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How to Grow Rhoeo — Moses-In-A-Cradle

Moses-in-a-boat Tradescantia

Rhoeo–commonly called Moses-in-a-cradle–is a small evergreen perennial native to Mexico. It has lance-shaped leaves that are colorfully two-toned, dark green on top, and iridescent purple underneath.

Rhoeo thrives in regular potting soil. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. During winter allow the top half-inch of soil to dry out between waterings.

Rhoeo is commonly listed as Tradescantia spathacea.

Get to Know Rhoeo

  • Plant type: Tropical evergreen perennial
  • Growing Zones and range: 9-11
  • Optimal growing temperature: Prefers cool night of 50°-55°F (10°-13°C) and daytime temperatures of 65°-70°F (18°-21°C)
  • Light: Bright sun, filtered light, or deep shade
  • Height and width: 6”- 1’ tall
  • Foliage: Clusters of long sword-shape leaves along a thick stem up to 8” long; leaves are dark teal-tinged deep green on the top and rich violet below. Leaves grow from a mounded rosette to 1 foot (30cm) tall.
  • Flowers: Small white three-petaled flowers are hidden in boat-shape purple bracts
  • Bloom time: Year-round blooms
  • Uses: Houseplant, groundcover in warm-winter regions
  • Common name: Moses-In-A-Boat, Moses-in-the cradle, Moses-in-the-bulrushes, man-in-a-boat, boat-lily, oyster plant
  • Botanical name: Rhoeo spathacea (syn. Trandescantia spathacea)
  • Family: Commelinaceae
  • Origin: Brazil, Guatemala, Southern Mexico

Where to Plant Rhoeo

  • Rhoeo will grow in bright sun to deep shade.
  • Grow Rhoeo in all-purpose potting mix or soil rich in organic matter but will grow in sandy soil
Moses-In-A-Boat, Tradescantia spathacea
Moses-In-A-Boat, Rhoeo

How to Water and Feed Rhoeo

  • Keep the soil just moist for Rhoeo. Allow the soil to just dry between waterings.
  • Fertilize Rhoeo twice a month in spring and summer.

Rhoeo Care

  • Give plants extra humidity by placing the container on a tray with pebbles and water.
  • Repot Rhoeo only when the plant is crowded in its container.
  • Too little light will make the plant lanky and not as colorful; move the plant to a brighter spot.
  • When older plants begin to look shabby, start new plants.

Growing Rhoeo as a Houseplant

  • Rhoeo needs bright light, an average room temperature, and medium to high humidity.
  • The soil should be allowed to dry between watrerings.
  • Fertilizer can be applied regularly in spring and summer.

Rhoeo Pests and Diseases

  • Rhoeo is susceptible to mealybugs and spider mites.

Rhoeo Propagation

  • Take Rhoeo offsets or divide at any time or remove and repot seedlings that appear in the pot.

Rhoeo Varieties to Grow

  • Rhoeo is sometimes listed as Tradescantia spathacea.
  • ‘Variegata’ leaves are striped with pale yellow.

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