If you need a crash course on gardening and want to try your skills with a beginner friendly houseplant, then the Rheo plant has no second. It produces stunning foliage and is a fairly low maintenance plant. Rheo’s eye-catching foliage has vivid colors with hues of purple, pink, white, and green leaves.
So how exactly do you look after Rheo plants? Here’s all you need to know.
A Quick Overview of Rheo Plants (Tradescantia spathacea)
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Rhoeo spathacea, also known as Moses in the Cradle and Moses in the Boat, are native to Central America and Southern Mexico. It goes by various nicknames including oyster plant, cradle lily, and boat lily, on account of its sword-shaped leaves with white flowers tucked between boat shaped bracts.
The plant does extremely well in outdoor areas and is commonly used as ground cover, hanging plant, and even border plant. They are not very resistant to frost damage and are usually brought indoors in the colder months.
Moses in a Basket will bloom if you can replicate their native habitat. It grows pale white flowers that provide a stunning contrast to the sword-like leaves.
Soil for Rheo Plants
Rheo plants are not finicky about the soil and will even grow in regular garden soil. However, like most perennials, Rheo grows best in moist and well draining soil. Try to prepare soil that is rich in organic matter. A common strategy is to mix perlite or coarse grained sand with turf ground and peat, but you may also use regular household soil mix used for other indoor plants.
If the soil outdoors is heavy clay or sandy, toss in about 4 inches of well decomposed manure and compost. Provide a drainage hole to allow any excess water to leave the pot.
Rhoeo plants have a spread of about 12 inches and should be spaced at least 16 inches apart to prevent overcrowding.
Temperature, Humidity, and Acidity for Rheo Plants
Rheo plants are best grown between the temperature range of 65°F to 75°F. These houseplants are susceptible to cold damage in the winter months. Never allow the temperature to fall under 54°F to prevent the cold from damaging the Oyster plant at a cellular level. Cold damage may be irreversible in most cases.
Provide plenty of humidity when the indoor air is dry by spraying the leaves daily. You can also group various houseplants together to increase the humidity levels.
Finally, keep the pH value of the soil between 5.8 to 6.5 for best results. Use a pH meter to monitor the acidity and alkalinity of the soil at regular intervals.
Water and Humidity Requirements
The Rheo Oyster plant is highly susceptible to root rot damage due to overwatering. This is why you should only water the plant when the soil is about 50% dry. In fact, the plant is often grown because it is relatively drought tolerant. It is better to miss a few watering sessions than to accidentally overwater the Rheo Oyster plant.
Use a pebble tray or a humidity nearby to keep the moisture at the desired levels.
Use the finger test method to see if it’s time to water the houseplant. When grown outdoors, consider planting Rheo Oysters under trees to provide shade. This is especially important if you live in an area that receives plenty of rain.
Repotting Rheo Plants
When grown indoors, you will have to repot the plant once it has reached a sufficiently large size. A good time to repot the plant is in the spring months when the roots have filled the existing spot. Make sure to only go up one pot size and another larger because it will be too big a change for the plant.
Make sure there are plenty of drainage holes in the bottom of the container so that the excess water can flow out.
Light for Rheo Plants
Rheo plants prefer bright, indirect light. They can be grown as indoor plants but thrive when placed in a shaded outdoor area. The plants have been known to tolerate full sun, but doing this at home increases the risk of leaf burn.
Rheo plants are hardy and will survive low light conditions, but their foliage does not achieve vibrant color, and the stems may become leggy in an effort to seek light. Too much light is not ideal because it can lead to the yellowing of the leaves.
Pests and Diseases
Like any other houseplant, Rheo plants are highly susceptible to pest infestations and foliage diseases. The biggest culprits are spider mites, mealybugs, and scales. You can try knocking off most of the pests by spraying the plant with a strong blast of water.
In case of more advanced infestations, you may have to use something more targeted. Always use an organic insecticide instead of using chemicals because it may be too harsh on the plant. Essential oils like neem oil can eliminate most pests and their eggs, especially spider mites. For something stronger, you may use an insecticidal soap.
Once you have identified a pest infestation, quarantine the Rheo Oyster to contain the infestation.
The plant is at risk of root rot due to a lack of light and overwatering. If you discover suspected root rot damage, consider trimming the affected roots and discarding them.
Caution: Use a pair of gloves, goggles, and a face mask when handling the Rheo Oyster plant because it is toxic to humans and pets.
Rheo is Toxic
Rhoeo plants are known for being toxic to both humans and pets. They should be kept out of reach of small children and pets. Accidentally ingesting the plant may lead to throat irritation, skin and mouth irritation, stomach problems, as well as pain in the lips. Rhoeo plants have a sap that will cause skin irritation by touching it.
The plant is so toxic, in fact, that merely touching it can result in dermatitis in sensitive individuals. Bear the toxicity of the plant in mind before bringing it to your home or indoor garden.
And as always, sterilize your cutting tools to prune or propagate Moses in the Cradle. Dip the clean knife into a household cleaner and allow it to air dry.
Rhoeo plants may be included on the invasive species list in some parts of the world. Discard them responsibly to minimize damage to the ecosystem.
So there you have it, an in-depth look at care instructions for growing the stunning Rhoeo plants. It doesn’t take much to keep your Rhoeo happy. They are toxic plants to both humans and animals, so place them out of reach of children and pets