Moses-in-a-basket (Tradescantia Spathacea ‘Vittata’)

Plant: Table of Contents

What is Moses-in-a-basket (Tradescantia spathacea ‘Vittata’)?

The Moses-in-a-basket, known scientifically as Tradescantia spathacea ‘Vittata’, is a magnificent tropical foliage plant renowned for its beautiful, variegated leaves. This ornamental houseplant is also referred to as Tradescantia Vittata, Spiderwort plant, Oysterplant, Boatlily, and Wandering Jew Vittata. The Moses-in-a-basket belongs to the family Commelinaceae and is native to Belize, Guatemala, and Southern Mexico. This exotic plant is popularly grown indoors as it thrives in the controlled environment provided within homes and offices. In this blog post, we will explore in detail the culture, uses, care tips, and interesting facts about the Moses-in-a-basket plant.

Key Takeaways – Moses-in-a-basket (Tradescantia spathacea ‘Vittata’)

Before delving into the specifics of the Moses-in-a-basket plant, here are some key takeaways that provide an overview of the plant’s characteristics and care requirements:

  • Scientific Name: Tradescantia spathacea ‘Vittata’
  • Other Names: Spiderwort plant, Oysterplant, Boatlily, Wandering Jew Vittata
  • Plant Type: Tropical foliage plant, indoor houseplant
  • Attributes: Variegated, decorative, leafy, low maintenance, exotic, vibrant foliage
  • Care Tips: Requires moderate water, indirect sunlight, well-draining soil, occasional fertilization, and protection from pests
  • Propagation: Easily propagated through division and stem cuttings
  • Common Uses: Suitable for container gardening, interior décor, air purification, and as an office or house plant
  • Popularity: Increasing popularity as a unique and visually appealing houseplant
  • Disease Resistance: Resistant to most common plant diseases
  • Pest Resistance: Susceptible to mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids
  • Fun Facts: Exhibits nyctinasty, a unique leaf movement characteristic, making it an intriguing addition to any indoor space.



The Moses-in-a-basket plant prefers moderately moist soil, but it is essential to allow the topsoil to dry slightly between waterings to prevent waterlogged conditions. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other moisture-related issues. Typically, watering the plant once a week during the growing season is sufficient. However, adjustments should be made based on environmental conditions and the plant’s specific needs.


As a tropical plant, the Moses-in-a-basket thrives in bright, indirect sunlight. Placing the plant near a window where it can receive filtered sunlight is ideal. Direct exposure to intense sunlight can scorch the leaves, causing damage to the plant. Additionally, this plant can tolerate low light conditions but may exhibit slower growth and reduced vibrancy in such environments.


During the growing season, from spring to early fall, it is beneficial to fertilize the Moses-in-a-basket plant every 2-4 weeks using a balanced liquid fertilizer. Dilute the fertilizer to half strength to prevent any potential damage to the roots. It is important to refrain from fertilizing the plant during the winter months when growth is typically slowed down.


The Moses-in-a-basket plant prefers well-draining potting soil, rich in organic matter. A combination of peat moss, perlite, and compost can provide the ideal growing medium for this plant. It is crucial to ensure that the potting mix is loose and aerated to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot and other related issues.


Regular pruning is not necessary for the Moses-in-a-basket plant. However, removing any yellowing or damaged leaves can aid in the overall health and appearance of the plant. Additionally, pruning can be done to control the size of the plant and to encourage a more compact growth habit.


The Moses-in-a-basket plant can be easily propagated through division or stem cuttings. When dividing the plant, separate the offsets from the main plant and plant them in individual pots. As for stem cuttings, select healthy stems, approximately 3-4 inches in length, and place them in a suitable potting medium. Ensure that the cuttings receive adequate warmth and humidity to promote successful root formation.

Container Popularity

Due to its striking foliage and low maintenance requirements, the Moses-in-a-basket plant has gained popularity as a choice for indoor container gardening. It adds a vibrant and decorative touch to any indoor space and is suitable for various styles of container gardening, including hanging baskets, decorative pots, and terrariums.

Container Common Diseases

The Moses-in-a-basket plant is generally resistant to most common plant diseases, provided it is grown in suitable conditions and its care requirements are met. However, it can be susceptible to certain issues such as root rot and leaf spot if exposed to prolonged moisture or unfavorable environmental conditions.

Disease Diagnosis

  • Root Rot: This occurs when the plant is overwatered, leading to the roots becoming waterlogged and subsequently rotting. Symptoms include wilting, yellowing leaves, and a foul odor emanating from the soil.
  • Leaf Spot: Manifested by the appearance of dark, water-soaked spots on the leaves. Proper watering practices and good air circulation can help prevent this issue.

Common Pests

While the Moses-in-a-basket plant is relatively resistant to diseases, it can be vulnerable to certain pests, including:

  • Mealybugs: These small, cottony insects can cluster on the leaves and stems, sucking sap from the plant, leading to stunted growth and yellowing leaves.
  • Spider Mites: These tiny pests can cause stippling on the leaves, webbing, and leaf drop if left unchecked.
  • Aphids: These tiny insects can cluster on the undersides of the leaves, causing yellowing and distortion of the foliage.

Botanist’s Tips

Growth Habits

The Moses-in-a-basket plant exhibits a clumping growth habit, with its attractive variegated leaves reaching up to 12 inches in length. The plant generally grows to a height of 12-18 inches, making it suitable for tabletops, shelves, and other indoor spaces.

Aesthetic Appeal

Its vibrant, green and white variegated foliage makes the Moses-in-a-basket an excellent option for interior décor, adding a touch of tropical elegance to any room. Its unique leaf pattern and coloration are visually appealing, making it a popular choice among plant enthusiasts and interior decorators.

Fun Facts

  • The Moses-in-a-basket plant exhibits nyctinasty, a unique leaf movement pattern in response to light and darkness. At night, the leaves fold upwards, resembling a basket, hence the common name “Moses-in-a-basket”.
  • This plant has been traditionally associated with various superstitions and beliefs. In certain cultures, it is believed to bring luck and prosperity to the household where it is grown.

Links to External Resources

For additional information on the Moses-in-a-basket plant, propagation techniques, care guides, and more, the following external resources are highly beneficial:

By utilizing these resources, plant enthusiasts can gain valuable insights into the maintenance, propagation, and care of the Moses-in-a-basket, ensuring the optimal health and growth of this exquisite tropical foliage plant.

In conclusion, the Moses-in-a-basket (Tradescantia spathacea ‘Vittata’) stands out as an enchanting addition to indoor spaces, offering vibrant foliage, low maintenance requirements, and an array of cultural significance. Its unique characteristics, ease of care, and visually appealing nature make it a sought-after choice for plant enthusiasts and interior decorators alike. With the right cultural practices and care, this tropical gem can thrive and elevate the aesthetics of any indoor environment. Whether displayed as a solitary specimen or incorporated into a lush indoor garden, the Moses-in-a-basket plant brings a touch of exotic allure to its surroundings, making it a standout choice for interior décor and indoor gardening.

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Peter Taylors

Expert botanist who loves plants. His expertise spans taxonomy, plant ecology, and ethnobotany. An advocate for plant conservation, he mentors and educates future botanists, leaving a lasting impact on the field.