How to Care for a Beautiful Moses in the Cradle Plant [Updated 2022]
Moses in the Cradle

How to Care for a Beautiful Moses in the Cradle Plant [Updated 2022]

Moses in the Cradle (Tradescantia spathacea)

Moses in the Cradle is botanically known as Tradescantia spathacea and informally called a boat lily, Moses in a basket, Moses-in-the-bulrushes, and oyster plant. The plant is native to Mexico and Central America. It is commonly known for its beautiful dark green, lance-shaped leaves with purplish-red undersides. This Herbaceous perennial easy to care plant can thrive in a wide range of conditions as long it has moderate access to water. Despite their undeniable beauty, they are poisonous and should be kept away from children and pets.


Many people water their plants based on a schedule. This approach does not apply to Tradescantia spathacea. Expert advice suggests growers should only water the plant when the first two inches of soil dry.

The ‘water little but often’ technique is also not suitable to Tradescantia spathacea. This is because little water may not reach deep-seated roots but will create a damp layer of soil, which can encourage fungus gnats. It is advisable to water the plant adequately and allow it to drain. In winter, when growth is minimal, try to keep the soil dry.

Watering can be a tricky area whether you’re a new plant parent or seasoned. For a little support, check out our guide: Tips on Watering for New Plant Parents.

Light and Humidity

Moses In The Cradle plants require six hours of indirect bright light daily. Keep the plant away from direct sunlight lest you want to scorch it. It can tolerate low light conditions, but the leaves will be more green than purple. Humidity levels should be kept medium – around 40 percent. Brown leaf tips are an indication of dry air.

You can increase humidity levels using humidifiers or placing the plant pot on a humidity tray. Alternatively, just mist the leaves. Though it can survive in temperature above 55°F, warmer conditions of 65-80°F are considered optimal for the plant.

Moses in the Cradle plant

Soil and Fertilizer Requirements for a Moses in the Cradle Plant

The plant grows well in light soil that retains moisture for long but drains water quickly. To achieve these two conditions, create a potting mix using an equal amount of peat moss and perlite. Alternatively, apply organic matter and sand. Moses in the cradle is a relatively fast-growing plant that requires substantial feeding during growing seasons – spring and summer. Apply a water-soluble balanced fertilizer diluted to half strength once in a month. Avoid overfeeding the plant- it can cause mineral accumulation in the soil, thus killing it.

Cleaning and Pruning

Wipe off the dust using a damp soft piece of cloth or put the plant in the rain or the shower and let the water run over it. Pruning is essential for keeping Tradescantia spathacea in shape. Pinch off growing tips to help the plant have a bushier appearance. Also, trim off dead and dying leaves to improve appearance. 

Cellar Door Plants aims to help bring nature into your home. We are avid plant lovers so every plant sold is packaged and protected with care to guide it to your home safely. If you’re looking for some new plant babies, check out our Plant Shop to browse our inventory.


Propagation is done through stem cuttings, root division, or seeds. The most straightforward approach is root division or stem cutting. It can also be propagated from suckers produced by mature plants. Root division method entails removing a clump of stems at the roots, checking for any disease, and transferring the divisions to appropriate pots. The stem cutting approach involves cutting a 4-inch section of a stem from a healthy plant, putting it in water to grow roots, and transferring it to a soil medium.

Repotting a Moses in the Cradle Plant

These plants grow quite fast; thus, they should be repotted much frequently. Repot after every one or two years to prevent the plant from becoming root-bound. When repotting, use a pot that is one size up. To repot, remove the plant from its container gently, run water on the roots to clean, and untangle them. Half-fill the new container with fresh potting mix, put the plant in its new home, and fill the remaining half. Water it thoroughly and return it to its location.

Moses in the Cradle plant


Moses in the Cradle is poisonous; hence it should be kept away from children and pets. It can be infested with aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and scale. These pests can be removed by spraying or dusting the plant with conventional pesticides. Check root rot complications by watering the plant correctly. Trim off ailing leaves to minimize the chances of the disease spreading to other parts.

Overall, the Moses in the Cradle plant is a wonderful starter plant due to its resilient nature. The beautiful colorful leaves make this a stunning choice either indoors or outdoors. 

Visit the Cellar Door Plants Plant Shop to check out our Moses in the Cradle plant!

Cellar Door Plants aims to help bring nature into your home. We feel like people nowadays are more distant from nature than ever before. How can we protect the earth with so much distance from everything living around us? While we are based in Seattle, Washington, our greenhouse is located in San Marcos, California.

We are avid plant lovers so every plant sold is packaged and protected with care to guide it to your home safely. We have a wide selection of houseplants with care requirements ranging from easy-to-care-for home additions for beginners to more complicated varieties that require a more experienced grower.

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for more staging ideas for your new plant friends! Be sure to use #CellarDoorPlants for a chance to be featured.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Moses in the Cradle an indoor plant?

The Moses in the Cradle plant can grow either indoors or outdoors. It can make a colorful and unique indoor houseplant.

Is Moses in the Cradle toxic?

A Moses in the Cradle plant is poisonous so it should be kept away from pets and children.

How do you care for a Moses in the Cradle?

The care guidelines for a Moses in the Cradle are fairly simple. You should water when you notice that the first two inches of soil is dry. It also requires at least six hours of bright light but not direct sunlight. Overall this plant is low maintenance and resilient making it a great addition for new plant parents!

Why is it called Moses in a Cradle?

The Moses in a Cradle plant received its name due to its ability to self pollinate which happens through the growth of small, three petaled flowers that emerge out of purple boats or cradle shaped bracts. 

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