How to Care for Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) Indoors

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Boat Lily Care, Tradescantia spathacea Care

Botanical name: Tradescantia spathacea
Synonym: Rhoeo spathacea
Family: Commelinaceae
Common names: Boat Lily, Moses-in-the-Cradle, Moses-in-a-Boat, Cradle Lily, Oyster Plant

Boat Lily Description

Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) also called Moses-in-the-Cradle, Moses-in-a-Boat, Cradle Lily or Oyster Plant is an easy to grow houseplant that is ideal for small spaces.

The Boat Lily bears small white flowers in purple 'boats' at the base of the lower leaves and hence the common names, 'Moses-in-the-Cradle', 'Boat Lily' and 'Moses-in-a-Boat'.

If grown under good light, Boat Lily flowers at any time of the year. It is low-growing plant with short stem.

The leaves in Boat Lily are fleshy, sword-shaped, glossy green with purplish-red undersides.

Boat Lily Origin

Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) is native to Mexico, West Indies and Central America.

Boat Lily Varieties

New varieties of Boat Lily have been developed like the spectacular cultivar Rhoeo discolor 'Variegata' which bears foliage that is striped in burgundy, pink, green and cream.

Boat Lily for Sale

Buy beautiful and healthy Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) from Etsy.

Boat Lily Care, Tradescantia spathacea Care

Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) Care Indoors

Boat Lily Light Requirements

Boat Lily prefers bright light but will grow in semi-shade (partial shade). Keep your Boat Lily away from direct sunshine as it can lead to scorching of the leaves.

Regularly turn the pot to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides for uniform growth. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

How to water Boat Lily

Water Boat Lily thoroughly during the growing season and maintain the soil moist at all times.

Reduce watering your Boat Lily in cold weather to keep the soil slightly moist as growth is minimal. Read more on how to water houseplants.

Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot disease and eventual death of your plant.


Temperature for Boat Lily

Average warmth with a minimum 130C is ideal for your Boat Lily. A room temperature that is comfortable for you is ideal for this plant.

Protect the plant from draughts as they can cause leaf drop. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity for Boat Lily

Boat Lily has no need for high humidity. Moderate (average) air humidity is ideal for this Plant.

However, mist the leaves of your Boat Lily or set the pot on a wet pebble tray where the temperatures are too high to raise humudity. Check out these techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Fertilizer (Feeding) for Boat Lily

Feed Boat Lily with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 4 weeks during the growing period.

Withhold feeding for your Boat Lily during the cold season as the growth is minimal and feeding at this time may lead to fertilizer burn. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

How to repot Boat Lily

Repot Boat Lily during the growing season only when the plant has become pot-bound.

Use a pot one size larger than the current one and free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter.

Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot disease and eventual death of your plant.

Soil for Boat Lily

The best soil for Boat Lily should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients. Most multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal for Boat Lily.

Buy quality Potting Mix for your Boat Lily from Etsy.

How to Prune Boat Lily

Pruning Boat Lily involves regular removal of dead foliage to maintain the plant neat and tidy.

To control the growth of your Boat Lily and encourage bushyness, pinch the growing tips.

Cut back leggy stems of your Boat Lily at the beginning of the growing season to rejuvenate growth.

Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) Propagation

Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) propagation can be done during the growing period by plants divison or from stem-cuttings.

How to propagate Boat Lily by plant division

Take out your Boat Lily from its pot and carefully divide it into sections. Ensure each sections has adequate roots and at least one set of leaves.

Pot up the Boat Lily sections in individual pots in free-draining soil.

Place the set up in a cool shaded place and maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges.

Allow the new Boat Lily plants to be well established before transplanting after which routine care can begin.

How to propagate Boat Lily from stem cuttings

Boat Lily stem cuttings root easily so there is no need for rooting hormone.

Take a stem cutting from a healthy Boat Lily of about 4-6 in. and ensure it bears at least two sets of leaves.

Fill your rooting container with free-draining rooting mix to a depth of about 4 in. Lightly moisten the soil.

With a pencil or similar object make a hole that is wider than the diameter of the Boat Lily cutting.

Carefully insert your Boat Lily cutting in the hole made previously to a depth of about 3 in.

Place the set up in a cool shaded place and maintain the soil moist through out until new growth emerges.

Allow the new Boat Lily plant to be well established before transplanting to individual pots after which routine care can begin.

Boat Lily Care, Tradescantia spathacea Care

Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) Problems Indoors

Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) problems indoors are caused by cultural faults like improper watering, improper feeding and inadequate light. Read on for remedies and solutions to these problems.

Boat Lily have brown and shrivelled leaf tips

Brown and shrivelled leaf tips in Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) is due to too dry air especially where the temperatures are too high.

Mist the leaves more regularly or set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity. Check out techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Boat Lily yellow and spotted leaves

Yellow and spotted leaves in Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) are caused by underwatering. Water your Boat Lily liberally during the growing season and maintain the soil moist through out.

Never allow the soil of your Boat Lily to dry out completely. Read more on how to water houseplants.

Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) not blooming (flowering)

Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) will not produce the white flowers where the light is too low (inadequate light).

Move Boat Lily to a brighter spot where it will receive bright, indirect light. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) dying

Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) dying is caused by root-rot disease which is brought about by soggy soil.

Ensure that the soil is free-draining and that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy. Also, reduce watering during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time and thus the plant does not require a lot of water.

Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) diseases

Common diseases in Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) are root-rot disease and leaf spot disease.

Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to the other houseplants and treat the plant appropriately for the disease.

Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) pests

Common pests which attack Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) are Mealy Bugs and Red Spider Mites.

Isolate the affected plant and treat appropriately. Mist the leaves regularly to reduce infestation by these pests.

Is Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) toxic?

Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea) is mildly toxic to both humans and pets.

If ingested the plant sap causes burning in the mouth, tongue and throat. The sap may also cause skin irritation in sensitive skin; always wear gloves when handling Boat Lily.

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