Top Caring Tips for a Tradescantia Spathacea (Oyster Plant)

Oyster Plant blooming

The Tradescantia Spathacea comes with a beautiful rosette of pinky foliage and will produce tiny white flowers at the base that appear in clusters. This makes it one of the most beautiful tri-color combinations that can transform your garden.

To grow a vibrant Tradescantia Spathacea, keep its soil moist by watering once or twice in ten days. Place it where it can get indirect bright light and temperatures of 60-85ºF (15.5º-29.4ºC) with slightly high humidity. Plant your Oyster Plant in well-drained soil.

The oyster plant is loved because it does not demand too much attention while offering bright colors all through the year. The bright purple and green foliage crowning your pot will become an attention grabber indoor without taking too much space.

Here is a detailed look at the conditions needed to grow and care for a robust oyster plant in any environment and produce vibrant flowers throughout the year.

Let’s begin.


Water at most twice in ten days to keep the soil moist from spring to summer. When you can soak the soil during watering, ensure that the water drips out of the container, leaving the soil moist for a week before the next watering session. Too much water will result in root rot and the inability to absorb the nutrients available in the soil.

As an invasive and undergrowth plant, the oyster plant will survive over-watering more than under-watering. In some instances, it helps to cover large pots where tree flowers like palms grow. Such growth characteristics point at a plant that is comfortable with a lot of water.

The quantity of water and the frequency of application will depend on prevailing heat as well as humidity conditions. If you are growing the plant in a hot area, you must continuously water it because the heat evaporates most of the water. In cold areas without much wind, reduce watering because the soil does not lose as much.

Monitor the water quality to avoid damaging the sensitive leaves and soil. Fluoridated and Chlorinated water alter the soil pH as well as chemical composition. It affects the growth potential of your plant and will also interfere with its brilliance. Use aged, filtered, distilled, or rainwater, even when misting because it also ends up on the soil.

The top layer of the potting soil will indicate whether your plant requires watering. The top two or three inches should dry before the next watering session. However, it would be best if you remembered that moisture content in the soil depends on your pot’s drainage.

Lack of water reduces the vibrance of the typically colorful leaves. The older leaves at the base will also begin to dry and fall off. Hence, you end up losing the entire plant. If it happens in spring or summer, the plant will fail to flower. A similar trend will be observed when chemicals in water or fertilizer will damage the soil.


The oyster plant will thrive in a humid environment. It is typical of a variety that grows on the forest floor, sometimes next to the streams. The plant also provides mulching cover to other potted plants: it usually thrives below forest canopies in the native forests where it grows.

Misting is the obvious option when you want to enhance humidity around your oyster plant. Because the plant has hairy leaves, it will trap the tiny particles for a while to sustain its humidity needs. While misting is useful, it works best for plant owners who love to provide attention to their plants. If you have a busy schedule or could be away for several days, misting might not work for you.

A pebble tray near the plant will enhance humidity levels around the leaves. Pebble trays provide water that supplies the humidity through evaporation. The tray will require refilling once every two to three weeks, depending on its size. It provides the best alternative for owners who do not have the time to give the plant a lot of attention are could be away for days without risking the plant.

Grouping oyster plants is a workable alternative to provide sufficient humidity to your oyster plant. It works best when some of these grouping plants are taller because they will provide shade and a sense of layering in your garden. Plants grouped with oyster plants must love the same humidity and temperature so that all of them thrive.

An electric humidifier also works perfectly to keep the air moist. It is automated and will not require your continuous attention. When the humidity is low, the leaves of your oyster plant begin to dry and drop. Too much humidity exposes your oyster plant to fungal infections.


As an invasive plant, the oyster plant can be described as a scavenger that will survive on almost any soil type. However, it thrives in rich soil with moderate-high moisture content but not soggy. Monitor the quality of soil provided because it enhances the chances of flowering and will guarantee glorious foliage throughout the year.

The best soil mix for the oyster plant is a mixture of perlite, compost, and commercial potting mix. It should lean more towards clay than sand. Improved loam or clay soils are some of the best alternatives. The improvement is made using gravel or sand to enhance drainage.

Use organic compost when potting the oyster plant to improve nutrient availability, aeration, and drainage. Organic mulching also helps to improve the quality of the soil. Always remember that the quality of the soil will determine the health and beauty of your foliage and must, therefore, be well-balanced.

Beyond using the right soil, you must maintain its quality through daily care. Use distilled, aged, filtered, or rainwater that does not contaminate the soil. Flash the soil with water at least twice a year, especially towards the end of summer after a season of robust fertilization. Moreover, use liquid instead of granular fertilizer to protect the soil.


The oyster plant is an undergrowth plant that rarely rises in search of the sun. It prefers indirect light exposure, like in the shaded areas below the tropical forest canopies where it is a native. However, please do not keep the oyster plant in too much dim light because it loses coloration on the foliage, remaining more green than the usual shades of red.

Place the oyster plant a few meters near the window where the direct sun cannot get to the leaves. East or west-facing windows will be ideal to allow your plant to enjoy both the early morning and later afternoon shine. Avoid the midday and noon sun that is too hot to the extent of scorching the leaves.

When grown outside, it helps to provide shade to protect your oyster plant against the direct sun. The balcony and other structures where the plant hangs mostly provide the much-needed shade for your oyster plant. In winter, you can place the plant closer to the window to maximize the absorption of light.

The absence of light affects coloration more than any other element. Since the oyster plant is grown for its beautiful leaves more than the flowers, do not risk losing this coloration because you cannot provide adequate light. The size and vibrance of the leaves will also suffer because of low light. Bright light is especially important in spring and summer when the oyster plant is flowering.


The oyster plant prefers the warm temperature between 60ºF(15.5ºC) and 85ºF(29.4ºC) during the day. These warm temperatures are crucial for coloration, glorious foliage, and flowering. Such temperature will also help to control pests and diseases by providing an environment where pests and infections cannot thrive.

The oyster plant’s characteristics allow it to grow in areas with a broader range of temperatures. The plant can take temperatures up to 95ºF(35ºC); only this time, the leaves will appear faded and less succulent. The leaves may also bend in the middle and eventually die, causing the loss of your entire plant.

As an undergrowth variety, the oyster plant can tolerate lower temperatures. They may fall as low as 45ºF(7.2ºC) as long as the drop is not drastic and will not be sustained for an extended period. 

Experts advise plant owners to bring them indoors during winter or a frost. When grown as mulching for other plants, it remains in the shade, meaning that the temperatures are lower.

Advanced Care Guidelines

The Oyster Plant can bear with neglect but will result in a colorless plant. Owners who provide the right conditions are rewarded with beautiful floral spectacle and colorful foliage that will flower in spring and summer.

Below are the care points that require attention to give you a glorious oyster plant.

Let’s continue.


The oyster plant produces tiny flowers that are tucked inside the leaves. They may be white, pink, or purple, depending on the variety and prevailing conditions. The flowers may sometimes pass unnoticed because they are hidden inside the leaves. Their size also makes them less useful in a floral arrangement. It explains why most owners prefer to grow the oyster plant for its tri-colored leaves and not for the flowers.

The flowers produce seeds that are used for propagation. However, you must provide the right conditions, especially soil nutrients, water, and temperature, for the plant to bloom and produce seeds. The flowers usually last several months but do not produce any fragrance.


Feed the oyster plant monthly, especially in spring and summer, when it experiences robust growth. Use a balanced fertilizer that is diluted to half strength because the oyster plant is a mild feeder. The best fertilizer is the water-soluble variety that spreads quickly in the soil and will not result in chemical accumulation.

Liquid fertilizer also helps you to achieve the double goals of fertilization and watering without overburdening the plant. Reduce fertilization in winter when the plant remains dormant. Because of the sensitive leaves, apply the fertilizer at the base, avoiding the leaves by all means.


Adequately feed the oyster plant, so it results in a full and bushy plant. However, the short leaves that crown your pot are glorious because of their color, meaning that pruning will not be necessary. It is only recommended when you want to control the growth pattern and size of your oyster plant.

Pruning is best done by cutting the lower old leaves to give your oyster plant a fresh look. The process also boosts air circulation within the leaves and will eliminate disease or pest-infested leaves. Use gloves during pruning because the sap from cut leaves could be irritating to the hands.


The oyster plant is a slow-growing plant with a small root structure. Even the foliage crown is relatively small compared to other house plants that need regular repotting. This will only be necessary if the roots outgrow the pot. However, damaged soil through the accumulation of chemicals from fertilizer or water will necessitate repotting.

Prepare a fresh potting mix and endeavor to maintain soil quality by watching the fertilizer and water used.


The oyster plant is one of the easiest plants to propagate. The division is most appropriate where you split a few shoots and place them on a new pot. It is done in spring and summer when the weather is warm enough to promote regrowth. You may also harvest seeds from the plant once it flowers and later sprinkle them in warm moist soil. They will eventually germinate and will be ready for potting within two weeks.

Pest and Disease Prevention

The oyster plant is reasonably resistant to pests and diseases. You might only have to worry about mealybugs, whitefly, scales, and spider mites. Adequate humidity, the right temperature, and pruning will keep your flower healthy and glorious.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tradescantia Spathacea/Oyster Plant

Why is my oyster plant dying?

The soil is probably too dry or too wet. Soggy soil could also have resulted in root rot, and your plant requires repotting. If you have not pruned the plant in a while, diseases and pests could have found a home.

Is an oyster plant poisonous?

The oyster plant is not poisonous to humans or pets but will irritate when you come into contact with sap from cut leaves. Caretakers are requested to use gloves when pruning.

Where do oyster plants grow?

Oyster plants grow in damp and humid conditions that imitate the inside of tropical forest canopies. A successful houseplant owner is one who will imitate these conditions.

How tall do oyster plants get?

Oyster plants grow between 6″-8″ depending on the amount of feeding. Horizontal growth will also depend on feeding and the size of the container provided.

Sebastian Moncada

I’m also a plant enthusiast and researcher. I’ve been privileged to have lived my whole life around the wilderness of Colombia and I’m happy to share everything I learn along the way. “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience” – Emerson.

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