Tradescantia spathacea

Tradescantia spathacea

Tradescantia spathacea is a very attractive house plant, a semi-epiphytic herbaceous shrub with underground rhizomes and a rosette of long sword-shaped leaves, dark purple above and bright purple below.

This plant can be found under other botanical names – Tradescantia spathacea variegated, Tradescantia spathacea multicolored (Tradescantia spathacea discolor). This plant has several unusual names that have become widespread among flower growers around the world: moses rook or Moses in a boat (Moses in a Boat), Moses in the cradle (Moses in the Cradle), Boat Lily (Boat Lily), Christ in the cradle (Christ in the Cradle).

Tradescantia spathacea was first described in 1788.

tradescantia spathacea
tradescantia spathacea

Native to Belize, Guatemala and southern Mexico (Chiapas, Tabasco and the Yucatan Peninsula), today it is widely cultivated as an ornamental and naturalized in Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Hawaii and the Caribbean, South America, is an aggressive exotic for South Florida and Louisiana, a ruderal plant in Brazil. Elsewhere in the world, it is cultivated most often as a houseplant.

In natural growing conditions, Tradescania veilum lives at low altitudes above sea level. It grows well both in soil and as a lithophyte or epiphyte on rocky walls and on trees in dry or moist woodlands, it can often be seen on palm trunks or niches with little to no soil. This species is heavily cultivated in tropical or subtropical gardens, as a common border or edging plant – unpretentious and easily adaptable to different growing conditions, suitable for full sun or partial shade, as well as for different types of soils. The only thing that really bothers him is the cold. Ultimately, the plant can take over a large area in the garden if left to its own devices. Its colorful foliage makes it a popular plant for adding contrasting foliage throughout the garden.

Tradescantia spathacea

Tradescania vembata is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial with a dense and fleshy erect stem growing up to 30-40 cm in height. Numerous side branches grow arbitrarily, so the shape of the plant is always different. The shoots are covered with large leaves, under the weight of which the shoots lean and hang. During the life of the plant, the lower leaves die off and fall off, and the plant becomes like a palm tree. Horizontal sessile leaves reach a width of 5-7 cm, and a length of 20-30 or more cm.

The upper side of the leaves is dark green, and the lower side is red-purple with barely pronounced stripes. The whole plant is covered with red-orange hairs. The inflorescence consists of small white flowers on small peduncles opening at the base of the leaves, a leaf-shaped veil formed by two or three purple-colored leaves.

Flowers do not live long, and flowering is not tied to a specific season, it can happen both in autumn and in summer (in natural conditions – usually in mid-summer), but in favorable conditions, one inflorescence replaces another, and this can continue all year round. But both in gardens and in indoor conditions, this plant is grown not for the sake of flowers, but for the sake of its very decorative leaves.

Among the varieties popular in indoor floriculture are the following:

Tradescantia spathacea variegata
  • Variegata (striped Tradescantia spathacea) – this variety is characterized by the presence of light stripes on the upper part of the leaf plate:
  • Pink Tradescantia spathacea – on its plants, pink stripes are particularly bright;
  • Sompacta is a compact low-growing, easily bushy variety;
  • Concolor (monochromatic) – with green leaves and greenish-white flowers;
  • Vittata is a very elegant variety, possessing sparse longitudinal yellow stripes on the leaves, located closer to the edges of the leaf; the stripes are narrow, and towards the center they thicken;
  • Hawaiian Dwarf – a variety that has leaves with stripes of three colors at once – pink, green and white;
  • Sitara Gold – a variety in the color of which yellow color predominates, greenish stripes pass along the golden-yellow background;
  • Stripe me Pink is a new variety with white and pink stripes on a silver background of the upper side of the leaf and a bright pink reverse side of the leaf.

Tradescania vetaceata is a medicinal plant with antimicrobial, insecticidal, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Peoples living in places where Tradescantia spathacea grows in nature boil its leaves and turn it into purple-colored herbal tea. This tea is used to relieve high fever and headache, as well as treat fever, cough and bronchitis. The heated leaves of the plant are used as a compress, applying them to the joints as a therapeutic agent for sprains and rheumatism. In Cuba, reo juice is used to stop bleeding from the gums, and a decoction of leaves – for various respiratory diseases. And in Mexico, reo juice is used to create blush, as it irritates the skin and causes its prolonged redness.

Attention! The astringent juice of this plant can cause allergic dermatitis – burning and itching on the skin in susceptible people and animals. Tradescantia spathacea can cause skin irritation in dogs, although this is usually not a big problem, since dogs do not show interest in this plant. You can not ingest this plant in its raw form, as the juice can cause a sharp pain in the mouth and throat.

Tradescania veilata is a plant of magical rituals. According to the flower horoscope, this plant was born under the sign of Aquarius. In addition, it is believed that it fills the room in which it lives with creative energy, neutralizes bad thoughts and negative energy, protects its owner from love spells and witch charms.

Tradescantia spathacea

Although the veil trade does not belong to demanding plants, so that it is healthy and beautiful, it must be kept in good shape: withstand the correct light regime, regularly water and feed, timely break off wilted flowers and leaves, shorten too overgrown branches, periodically update the soil. In addition, good drainage is mandatory. This plant is resistant to many diseases and pests, so there are no special difficulties in growing this flower. In general, with the care of this plant, if desired, a beginner in indoor floriculture can easily cope.


For normal development, this plant needs bright diffused light without direct sunlight, so in room conditions it is a resident of western or eastern window sills. From direct aggressive sunlight, shading is necessary to avoid leaf burns. In dark places, the plant stretches, changes color to a paler one.


Favorable temperature regime: in summer + 22 … + 24 º C, in winter + 14 … + 17 º C. Tradescantia spathacea is able to withstand high temperatures, but absolutely does not tolerate low ones. For normal plant growth, the temperature in the room should not fall below + 10 º C. With balcony maintenance, it can transfer night temperatures to + 5 ° C, but the leaves lose turgor, which leads to a weakening of the plant and its disease. Also undesirable for this species are sudden changes in temperature and drafts.

Air moisture

Humidity is desirable. In extreme heat, it is necessary to spray the Tradescantia spathacea with warm filtered water or wash under the shower. Spraying is carried out carefully, so that the splashes of water do not fall on the flowers. In extreme heat after a warm shower, the plant must be gently tilted and shaken slightly so that water pours out of the leaf axils and flowers. Return the flower to its place on the windowsill only when it is completely dry.


The soil for tradescan should be nutritious, light and loose. Of the finished soil mixtures, it is better to purchase universal ones, which contain peat in their composition. Or prepare the soil yourself, mixing in equal parts coarse sand, leafy earth, peat, humus and turf earth, to which you need to add a handful of fine charcoal or several crushed tablets of activated carbon. All ingredients need to be mixed very thoroughly.


Usually, reo is transplanted once every 2-3 years in the spring, but with the constant rapid growth of the plant, transplantation can be carried out every year. The first transplant is carried out after the plant reaches the age of 2 years. Adults are considered specimens that have reached the age of 5 years, they should be transplanted less often – every 5 years.

Since the root system of this species has the peculiarity of growing not deeper, but in width, low but wide pots with drainage holes are used to grow tradescania veil. It is better to give preference to plastic and porcelain containers, because they retain moisture longer. At the bottom of the vessel, it is necessary to organize a drainage layer 2 cm thick to protect the roots of the plant from decay. Transplantation is carried out by transshipment. After transplanting, the plant needs watering.


The soil should not be overdried. During the period of active growth, the veil tradescancia is watered once every two days. In winter, watering is done less often, but according to the same principle, as soon as the top layer of the substrate in the pot dries. For irrigation, settled water at room temperature should be used. So that excess water does not stagnate in the roots of the plant, the pot should stand on a pallet with pebbles.


During the growing season – from April to September – the plant needs fertilizing – once every two weeks with complex mineral fertilizers for indoor ornamental deciduous plants. Since September, fertilizers are applied once a month, and from November, fertilizing is stopped completely until the end of March.


Each variety of tradescan veil branches in its own way. In some varieties of this plant, side shoots are formed easily in a natural way, they do not need to be pruned or pinched, it is only necessary to remove the dried lower leaves in time. Other varieties do not branch on their own, so they pinch the top to stimulate the formation of lateral processes.

Reproduction of Tradescantia spathacea


At home, this plant is most often propagated by division or cuttings.

Dividing usually propagates an old plant, taking it out of the pot and carefully freeing the roots from the soil. The plant is divided into parts so that they are all approximately the same and each has a sufficient number of roots. Plant divisions in pots with drainage and substrate.


When cutting with the onset of spring, cut off young shoots from the plant with a clean and disinfected knife, free their lower part from the leaves and keep them in soft water until the roots appear. Young shoots are very sensitive to temperature changes, so it is necessary to maintain a temperature regime in the room where they are located in the range of + 18 … + 20 ° C. Over time, they will take root, after which they can be cared for as adult plants, transplanted into a new pot. It is necessary to plant a young plant in the ground when the roots have reached a length of 1.5-2 cm With this method of reproduction, the young plant retains all the varietal signs of its parent, so flower growers prefer this method of reproduction, which also does not require much effort.

The most favorable method of reproduction is the rooting of side shoots. The young that appear from the roots of the main plant are carefully separated from the mother plant. If the root system is not yet enough, then it is kept in a vessel with settled water until the formation of full-fledged roots.

Propagation by seeds

Tradescania veilica can multiply and seeds, their germination is very good, they germinate quickly and amicably. Fresh seeds are sown in a peat-sand mixture and watered abundantly. Often Tradescantia spathacea reproduces by self-sowing, when seeds fall out of the scaphoid bracts as they ripen. However, during seed reproduction, the varietal qualities of the mother plants are not preserved, instead of a particularly decorative variegated variety, a plant of the main species can grow.

Diseases and pests of Tradescantia spathacea

Tradescancia is resistant to various diseases and parasites. But it can get sick with gray rot or powdery mildew if you do not follow the watering regimen, and the soil moisture is too high.

Gray rot affects the plant most often as a result of excessive watering and lack of drainage. To get rid of gray rot, you need to dry the soil in the pot and reduce water consumption when watering. Usually, for this, the plant is removed from the pot to inspect its roots and remove rotten areas, after which the root system is treated with a fungicide solution, the flower is transplanted into a new, disinfected substrate. In the future, it is necessary to observe moderation when watering. The plant should be placed on a tray with pebbles so that excess water can flow freely from the pot.

If, when spraying, water gets into the leaf axils and stagnates there, the plant can get sick with powdery mildew. Powdery mildew is easy to diagnose: whitish sloppy spots appear on the leaves, which gradually darken. For treatment, it is necessary to prune all damaged leaves and 2-3 times with an interval of 7-10 days to treat the plant and soil in the pot with a fungicide solution.

In rare cases, tradescania vemorata is affected by the shield. Wash off the sticky coating from the shield with a soapy sponge, then rinse the plant in the shower, well protecting the soil in the pot with a film. Strongly affected by the shield leaves are better to pinch off and throw away. Then it is necessary to treat the flower with an insecticidal agent With Actara, Actellik or Fufanon. One treatment will not defeat the shield, so after ten days the procedure must be repeated in the same order: washing with a soapy solution, a warm shower, treating the plant with an insecticide.

Mealybugs can easily be recognized by their sloppy white cotton-like secretions. Worms and their secretions must be removed from the plant with a soft brush or cotton swab soaked in a soapy solution, after which the plant must be treated three times with an interval of 7-10 days with a solution of Aktara, Biotlin, Mospilan or Phytoverm.


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