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Oyster Plant Care (Tradescantia Spathacea)

Updated: December 30, 2022

Looking for a houseplant with appealing color, which grows abundantly and tremendously easy to care for? An oyster plant is a perfect choice. It is famous for iconic leaves that feature purple, pink, green, and white tones. This plant is an excellent option for beginners and can handle a bit of abuse plenty well. The oyster plant is native to southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Central America and has now found its way to most countries. Here is a look at everything you need to know about Oyster plant care.

Does The Oyster Plant Have Any Other Names?

The oyster plant is scientifically referred to as Tradescantia spathacea. This particular Oyster plant variety is also referred to as boat-lily or Moses-in-the-cradle. The names might make you think that the plant has ocean characteristics. However, the only ocean-like trait is the bracts resembling small boats that hold onto the flowers.

Different Types of Oyster Plants

The different types of oyster plants include;

  • Oyster plant(Tradescantia spathacea)
  • Dwarf oyster plants (Tradescantia spathacea ‘Dwarf’)
  • Oyster tricolor plants (Tradescantia spathacea ‘Tricolor’)
  • Golden oyster plants (Tradescantia spathacea ‘Gold’)

Main Uses of Oyster Plants

The plants are perfect for someone looking for a smaller tropical houseplant that needs little maintenance. Oyster plants embellish smaller spaces with a beautiful pop of color. It is utilized for ornamental uses in most tropical and subtropical climates. It is also used for medicinal purposes for various health conditions, including sore throat, colds, anti-inflammatory treatment, and nosebleeds.

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How to Prune Oyster Plants

You only need to prune the Oyster plant when it has dead foliage. You should cut off any leaves with brown spots. You can also prune the plant to maintain the preferred shape. Some individuals will require to prune the Oyster plant more frequently depending on the shape they want.

Best Soil for Oyster Plants

Oyster plants can thrive in various soil types, including clay, sand, and loam, alkaline and acidic. However, they do best in well-drained soil. Add compost and perlite to the regular potting mix, and the plant will have the best nutritious environment to grow best in.

How Much Light Do Oyster Plants Need?

The oyster plant thrives best on bright indirect sunlight during the daytime. While they might also survive in partial shade, they have lesser chances of thriving. When the plants are grown in the shade, they tend to have less vibrant and dull foliage.

How Often to Water Oyster Plants

The Oyster plant is not very demanding when it comes to watering. During the summer, when the plant is growing actively, you should maintain lightly moist soil. Allow the first inch to dry out before you water again, which will most probably be watering it twice a week. Just keep in mind that overwatering can rot the roots, which may, in turn, kill the whole plant. So, ensure to remove the excess water in case of overwatering.

In the winter, the plant has less growth. Hence you should reduce the watering frequency to about once a week and leave the soil to dry a little more before rewatering.

Ideal Temperature Conditions for Oyster Plants

The ideal indoor temperature is sufficient for the oyster plant to thrive fine. The plant does best at an optimum temperature range of 13 to 27 degrees Celsius. The oyster plant does not do well in temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius. You hence require to be careful about keeping them outdoor during the fall and winter months.

Humidity Conditions for Oyster Plants

Considering their natural habitat under tall trees, it is evident that oyster plants prefer high humidity levels. They do best in moderate to high humidity, and anything about 40% humidity should be sufficient. You can increase the level of moisture for your plant by misting or placing the potted plant underneath a pebble tray.

Best Fertilizer for Oyster Plants

Similar to most houseplants, a little fertilizer from time to time will boost their growth rate. The best fertilizer is the water-soluble one that quickly spreads in the soil. Mix in some diluted houseplant fertilizer with water when watering the plant during the growth periods of spring to fall. You should avoid giving it fertilizer during the winter.

How to Propagate Oyster Plants

Oyster plants are easy to propagate. The most appropriate method is division, in which you split some shoots and plant them in a new pot. This should be done in summer and spring when the weather is most favorable for regrowth.

You can also propagate the plant by harvesting seeds from the flowering oyster pant and place them in warm moist soil. The seeds will germinate and become ready for potting in about two weeks.

Most plant experts also advocate for stem cutting propagation. Pick a well-grown stem through the dense leaves and make a cut using a sharp knife or shears, then root the cutting in moist soil.

Growth Rate of Oyster Plants

Oyster plants have a moderate to fast growth rate when provided with bright, indirect sunlight consistently. The plant grows up to twelve inches wide and twelve inches tall. The leaves of the plant have an average size of about 5 to 6 inches. It takes them and year or two to achieve this height which is relatively fast.

Ideal Pot Size for Oyster Plants

You should plant your oyster plant in a pot that is slightly larger than the root ball. The ideal pot size should have enough space for the root system and sufficient drainage holes. The plant root system gets dense over time, so it’s essential to report the plant after every two years.

Repotting Tips for Oyster Plants

You will only need to report the oyster plant once it is too big for the pot it is currently in. this should be done after some years. Plant it in one size bigger pot every time you repot the plant. The new pot should not be too big as the root system might deny the leaves sufficient nourishment. It is always recommendable to repot the Oyster plant after it gets to four inches tall.


Is The Oyster Plants Edible?

No! The oyster plant has an irritating sap and is considered to be relatively toxic. Don’t try to eat the plant.

Are Oyster Plants Toxic to Cats and Dogs?

Although Oyster plants are not unequivocally toxic, the leaves have an irritating sap that can hurt the mouth or other parts of your cats or dogs when it comes into contact. So, if you are worried, keep it out of reach from your pets and children.

Is The Oyster Plants Poisonous?

The whole oyster plant, including the leaves, flowers, and stem, is considered poisonous. The leaves have a sap that causes skin irritation and a burning sensation in the throat when ingested. You should hence consider using gloves when touching any part of the plant.


The oyster plant is very colorful and easy to grow, making it an excellent choice for most people. There is nothing about this plant that makes it hard to care for. If you are looking to introduce bright and appealing foliage to your garden, this is the best option for you.