Moses in the Cradle Plant – Care, Growing, Watering, Flowering, Propagation

You might wonder where the name of Moses in the Cradle comes from. The unusual name derives from the stunning boat-shaped bracts that hold gently the beautiful white flowers growing in the middle.

Other names such as Boat Lily, Moses-in-a-Boat, Moses-in-a-Basket, Cradle Lily, Moses-in-the-Bulrushes or Oyster plant are also popular.

The Moses in the Cradle plant (Tradescantia spathacea) is native to Belize, Guatemala and Mexico. It is cultivated as an ornamental plant, but you can also find it naturalized in certain regions in Florida, Texas and Hawaii, and even in some oceanic islands.

Moses in the Cradle Plant Care Tips

In this guide I will give you some useful tips on how to take proper care of your Moses in the Cradle plant. Read thoroughly and get the most out of your plant by learning about its different necessities and requirements.

Plant Size

This perennial, evergreen plant reaches 12 inches in height. It forms clumps and grows sword-shaped leaves in a rosette pattern that are dark green on the upper side and purple underneath.

During the blooming period, they have a really stunning look: white flowers in axillary cymes appear, being held by the long boat-shaped purple bracts.

Light Requirements

In order to help your plant reach its full potential, put it in a bright place, where it is protected from direct light.

Growing your Moses in the Cradle plant in indirect light will reward you with colorful green and purple leaves. Also, the constant touch of bright light will help the blooming throughout the year.

Soil Type

When it comes to soil types, Moses in the Cradle plants really appreciate a good quality, all-purpose potting mix.

If you aim for the best possible potting mix for your plant, combine equal parts of regular potting soil, perlite and peat moss. This mix is rich in nutrients and will help your plant grow and stay healthy.


Moses in the Cradle is one of those plants that don’t appreciate watering on a set schedule. The best way to decide when your plant is ready for watering is to poke your finger 1” into the potting mix.

This way you can see if the soil is dry or not. If you notice any moisture, the best is to wait a few more days until the soil dries completely.

A common mistake people make is that they water their plant often and each time they add only a little water, so the soil can stay hydrated all the time. Naturally, based on the instructions discussed above, this is not the correct way to take care of this plant.

So how should you water this plant correctly? The recommended way is to soak the soil every time you water your plant. This deep watering method is going to hydrate not only the plant, but it will also reach and hydrate the roots.

Another thing that is good to keep in mind is making some slight changes during different seasons when it comes to watering your plant. Starting from spring through fall you should try to keep the soil moist, while in the winter let the soil dry out a bit between watering.

Temperature & Humidity

Moses in the Cradle performs the best in average to warm room temperatures all year around (65-80°F). It also enjoys lower temperatures, but not less than 55°F.

A great tip is to keep your plant away from windows or doors where the temperature can quickly and drastically change.

To keep at least 40% of humidity, try to find a place for your plant in a moderate humidity room. This way you can prevent discolored foliage and you can help your plant grow.

You can keep your plant indoors and outdoors as well, but you have to know that air indoors compared to outdoor fresh air tends to be drier.

To provide more humidity to your plant there are some easy steps you can follow:

  • Find a spot for your plant in the bathroom or in the kitchen. These rooms are usually more humid than other parts of the house.
  • Mist the leaves with distilled or filtered water by using a spray bottle.
  • Use a room humidifier to keep the air level humid enough for your indoor plants.
  • Add a pebble tray filled with ornamental stones under the plant pot and fill the tray with water.

Potting & Repotting

In order to give your plant a soil refresh, it is recommended to repot it every one or two years. After this time your plant will outgrow its pot or container. When choosing the new container, try to find the next size up.

A pot that is too large for the plant will make the soil damp and soggy that can lead to issues such as root rot.

Here are the steps you should follow when repotting your Moses plant:

  1. Take out the plant from its old pot or container.
  2. Gently remove some dirt from the roots. This is a good time to check for root rots and remove any dead or decaying roots.
  3. Fill the new container with good-quality sterile potting mix and place your plant in the fresh soil.
  4. Fill the remaining space around the plant with the same mix.
  5. Water thoroughly so the soil and the plant can accommodate.
  6. Place your plant in a bright location.


The Moses plant doesn’t require much attention when it comes to fertilizing. The best time to schedule the process is during the spring and summer period when the plant is actively growing.

Feed your plant once a month with balanced houseplant fertilizer that contains strengthening and healthy nutrients.

Moses in the Cradle Plant Propagation

There are two different ways to propagate your Moses in the Cradle. The recommended time to do this is during the spring, because it is the time when the plant starts to intensively grow.

  1. Root division: all you need to do is simply remove some stems at the roots and plant them in a separate pot.
  2. Stem cuttings: find a healthy plant and cut a 4 inch section of stem. Place it in a jar of water and wait a few weeks until the roots appear. When the roots are 1 inch long plant them in a pot.

Moses in the Cradle Plant Pests & Diseases

The most common pests that affect Moses in the Cradle plants are scale, mealybugs, spider mites and aphids. Since these infections can be damaging to your plant, it is crucial to act as quickly as possible in order to save your plant from further damage.

Depending on the issues, you’ll need to wash your plant under running water, gently wash down the leaves with dishwashing soap, rubbing alcohol solution or neem oil.

Another problem you may face is root rot that can lead to discolored leaves, no blooming, slow growth, etc.

To give the best treatment to your plant and to avoid decaying, the most important thing is to water it correctly. Follow the above-mentioned instructions: water your plant deeply, then let the soil dry.

Moses in the Cradle Plant FAQs

In this segment I am going to cover some FAQs about Moses plants:

Is Moses in the Cradle Toxic to Pets?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Moses plants are often responsible for skin irritations in household pets.

Based on the studies made by The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Tradescantia plants, that Moses in the Cradle is a part of, can cause dermatitis.

Also, eating a large number of leaves can cause toxic reactions as well.

Why are the Purple Leaves Losing their Color?

A common reason for leaves fading is that your plant does not get enough sunlight. If you notice that your plant is starting to lose its colors, try to switch its location and put it in a brighter place.

In case the leaves are turning yellow, it means that your plant got too much direct light. To save the plant, move it to a shaded place, where it is protected from direct and hot sunlight.

Why is my Moses in the Cradle Plant Dying?

There can be different reasons leading to your Moses in the Cradle plant dying. The most common is watering issues, too much direct sunlight, cold temperature and too much fertilizer.

Make sure that your plant is placed to a bright location where it is not exposed to direct sunlight. Check the soil moisture levels and if you find the potting mix too dry, deep water your plant.  In case of overwatering, wait until the soil dries out.


As you can see, Moses in the Cradle plants really appreciate proper care with their stunning sword-shaped leaves and beautiful white flowers.

This plant does not require much attention, especially when it comes to watering. You can easily go on a vacation for a few weeks and your plant will not dry out.

All you need to do is schedule watering and fertilizing according to your personal plans and find the right location protected from direct light.

Houseplants   Updated: June 14, 2022
avatar Hi, I'm Amy, a devoted horticulturist and the creator of, where I use my expertise to help beginners foster their green thumbs. My blog is a vibrant community where I unravel the complexities of gardening and share my profound love for nature.
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