Meet Your Houseplant: Boat Lily

We recently welcomed a new and interesting houseplant into our apartment known commonly as the Oyster Plant, Boat Lily or Moses-in-the-Cradle (Tradescantia spathacea).

Moses-in-the-Cradle is an incredibly successful ornamental plant. It grows as a short, succulent perennial herb with waxy blade-shaped leaves that are green on top and a vibrant purple underneath. The plant’s list of colorful monikers stem from its unique flowers. T. spathacea produces small clusters of white flowers in oblong bracts, specialized leaves, that resemble, depending on your preference, oysters, boats or cradles.

While T. spathacea is native to Mexico and Central America, its popularity as a houseplant has spread it to homes all over the world. Capable of growing under low or high light, tolerant to drought and capable of flowering throughout the year, T. spathacea is a dream-come-true for those whose who lack green thumbs. It is so successful at adapting, that is some cases, it has been able to escape from yards and establish itself in the wild.

Much like T. spathacea, we’d also like to escape and establish ourselves in the wild. Maybe soon we’ll get the chance.

Brian Rutter, PhD, is the cofounder of Thing in a Pot Productions and a postdoctoral researcher in plant biology at Indiana University. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive our “Things About Things – Odd Facts About Plants” and video production tips in your inbox every month!

Works Cited:
CABI. “Tradescantia spathacea (Boat Lily).” CABI, Invasive Species Compendium. November 2019. Web. 30 May 2020. https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/119453

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