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A picture of a Boat Lily

Boat Lily

Tradescantia spathacea

Also known as

Spiderwort, Christ In The Manger, Cradle Lily, Men In A Boat, Moses In The Cradle, Moses-In-A-Basket, Oyster Plant, Purple-Leaved Spiderwort, Moses In The Bulrushes, Moses On A Raft, Moses In His Cradle, Moses-In-The-Cradle, Purple Flame, Moses in the cradle, Three men in a boat, Boat lily

Photo by red_hogweed1 (All rights reserved)

Full Shade
Easy care
Moderate watering


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size








5 years to reach maturity


  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has no fragrance

More images of Boat Lily

A photo of Boat Lily
A Tradescantia spathacea in a pot on a table
A photo of Boat Lily
A photo of Boat Lily
A photo of Boat Lily

Boat Lily Overview

Tradescantia spathacea is a stunning plant to brighten up your space, keep it in bright, indirect sunlight and allow it to dry out in between waterings. Tradescantia spathacea is a tender evergreen perennial with a compact, clump-forming habit with rosettes of semi-erect, fleshy lance-shaped, pink, white and green leaves which are purple on the underside. This attractive foliage plant produces white, 3-petalled flowers and is commonly known by many common names, including Boat Lily and Moses in the Cradle. Plants in the genus Tradescantia have until recently been commonly known as ‘Wandering Jew’. This name is no longer used by the horticultural world due to its historical use in supporting antisemitic stereotypes.

Common problems with Boat Lily

Boat Lily Companion Plants

Best planted on its own as it can overgrow other plants.

How to propagate Boat Lily


Take cuttings in the spring in cooler areas/Autumn in warmer areas. Stem cuttings roots quickly placed in a smaller pot with moist potting soil in a warm, bright area.


Remove stems with roots and replant to new areas.


Wherever the shoots touch soil, it roots and spreads!


Cover seeds with potting soil/organic matter. Sow in spring or towards the end of autumn.

Special features of Boat Lily

Pot plant

Plant using potting mix or organic matter. Be careful not to over-water and do not let soil dry out, prefers evenly moist soil.

Indoor plant

Also grown as indoor plants with bright, indirect light.

Attractive leaves

Other uses of Boat Lily


Cultivated as a garden ornamental. It is often grown as a ground cover in mild climates, mainly for its colourful foliage. In temperate regions, it is commonly cultivated as a houseplant for its attractive foliage.