Oyster plant – Plant, Grow and Care Detailed Guide

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A beautiful rosette of pointed foliage that adds great texture and color to any environment. It produces small white flowers at the base of the leaves protected by two cup-shaped bracts. Bracts and flowers resemble oyster shells with small pearls inside. An easy-to-grow and low-maintenance selection, ideal for beginners or those looking for a low-maintenance plant. Easy to grow indoors or outdoors in pots or beds. Use it as a highlight or display on flower beds, planters, and planters. They can be used to liven up balconies and patios.

The oyster plant (Tradescantia spathacea) has several common names and should not be confused with another plant commonly known as the oyster plant, Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius), whose roots taste like oysters.

oyster plant

The ornamental and tropical oyster plant is native to the warm regions of Guatemala, southern Mexico, and Belize, and is also known as the Boat lily and Moses-in-the-cradle. It receives the common name of Moses in the cradle due to the shape of the flowers, lily-boat for the leaves in the shape of a canoe, and oyster plant for the flowers that resemble oysters.

Belonging to the genus Tradescantia and related to the Wandering Jew and Spiderworts plant, oysters have already been listed under the name of Rhoeo Fade and some nurseries can still list them under the old name.

Oyster plants belong to the Commelinaceae family and are considered herbaceous perennials. The genus is named after Charles I of England gardeners and botanists John Tradescant and his son, who has the same name.

How to Plant Oyster Plant

  • Planting the plant from seed is undoubtedly the best way to grow oyster. 
  • In this way, you will encourage the oyster plant to establish itself in its growing environment and ensure that it thrives.
  • This plant, which is quite fragile, does not like to be moved or transplanted.
  • The oyster is best planted in the spring or fall, but you must be careful that it does not freeze.
  • Oyster really hates places that are very hot and sunny.
  • He appreciates well-drained soil and hates moisture.
  • It is also possible to prepare the seedlings in a sheltered place a little earlier and then transplant them carefully to the soil in the spring.
  • If you were able to prepare seedlings in a covered location, or if you bought your plants from a store, it is better to wait for spring to transplant your oyster.
  • You can plant your Oyster directly in the soil or, better yet, in pots: it is highly recommended to grow Oyster in pots to protect it from snails.
  • Avoid very compact and heavy soils.
  • Prefer partial sun instead of places that get very hot.
  • Water when the soil is dry, but don’t overdo it because Oyster hates moisture as much as periods of drought.

Growing Oyster Plant in pots

  • If you raise your pots an inch (a few centimeters) or more, snails will not be able to scale them, and if they could, they would, as they really love the plant!
  • The oyster is self-sown and growing it in containers will help to mark its growth space – when consumed somewhere, it tends to become quite invasive. 

Types of Oyster Plant

  • Oyster plant (Tradescantia Spathacea) is the most common type you will probably find in your nursery or local plants supplier online, you have options other varieties or cultivars with oyster plant leaves one slightly different.
  • Golden oyster plants (Tradescantia spathacea ‘Gold’) have golden leaves with green stripes and sometimes tinged with pink with a purple bottom.
  • Oyster tricolor plants (Tradescantia spathacea ‘Tricolor’) have thinner leaves with green, pink, and cream stripes with a purple underside.
  • Dwarf oyster plants (Tradescantia spathacea ‘Dwarf’) have a smaller oyster plant that grows only about 20 inches tall and has purple upper green leaves at the bottom.

How do you care for an Oyster Plant?

Size and growth

  • The oyster plant is not a large plant.
  • It rarely grows more than 45 centimeters in height, making it easy to handle.
  • As mentioned, the oyster plant produces tricolor leaves.
  • The upper parts are striped with light colors, while the lower parts are dark purple.
  • The leaves grow directly from the base of the plant without tall stems or branches.

Flower and fragrance

  • The flowers of the oyster plant also grow directly from the base, but most people choose to grow this plant for its impressive tricolor and sometimes green leaves.
  • The flowers are small and difficult to notice because they grow close together at the base.
  • The small white petals appear in bracts in the shape of a cradle and last for many months, but do not produce a noticeable fragrance.

Light and temperature

  • The best outdoor growing conditions include USDA rugged zones 9 to 11.
  • In summer, the oyster plant grows well in temperatures below 70 degrees.
  • During the colder months, keep the plant in a location that remains above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Outside the recommended resistance zones, the plant will probably need to spend the winter indoors.
  • Avoid placing the plant in places with drafts or windy areas.
  • Oysters enjoy partial sun and partial shade.
  • When grown indoors, place it in a window facing north or east to prevent the plant from receiving too much sunlight.
  • In winter, move the plant to a window with no direct sun, like an east-facing window with part of the sun and part of the shade.

Irrigation and feeding

  • Water the drought-tolerant oyster plant completely once a week, but avoid over-watering.
  • If there is water in the dish under the pan, it is because it is receiving too much water.
  • Fertilize during the active growing season. 
  • In the winter, water about once every two weeks.
  • Do not use fertilizers in the winter.
  • Watering is important, but humidity is the biggest concern.
  • Use frequent misting with a spray bottle to keep the plant moist, especially during the dry winter months.

Soil and transplant

  • Moses, in a pot, grows best on very porous soils with rapid drainage. To create the right conditions, mix the leaf mold with light humus. 
  • Transplant this low-maintenance plant every two or three years, but don’t move to a larger pot unless you transplant a younger plant.
  • If the pot is too big, the root system will absorb a lot of nutrition, delaying the development of attractive leaves.

Cleaning and maintenance

  • The oyster plant does not require preparation, but some producers like to clean the fallen leaves

How to propagate the oyster plant

  • Propagate the oyster plant with seedlings or seeds.
  • To propagate with seedlings, follow these simple steps:
  • In early spring, cut off the top of the plant. This encourages the plant to produce side shoots. 
  • Cut the side shoots after reaching 5 to 10 cm.
  • Plant cuttings in well-drained soil. To create the proper medium, mix equal parts of standard soil, leaf mold, and sand. 
  • Cover the seedlings with plastic or glass and place them in a warm, shady place.
  • After about two months, the new shoots should appear.
  • To try to propagate from the seed, pollinate the flowers and then harvest the seeds in September or October.
  • Germinate the seeds during November and December to sow in the spring.

Oyster pests and diseases

  • Mealybugs (small white insects on plants) and other pests can appear.
  • Treat these infestations with insecticide or try to wash them with a spray bottle or hose.
  • If the leaves look dead or brown, the plant is probably getting too much sun.
  • Move it to a shady spot or a window that receives less sunlight.
  • Neck rot is another concern. This occurs when the plant receives too much water and too little moisture.
  • Reduce irrigation and increase fogging with a spray bottle.
  • NOTE: Handling the oyster plant can cause skin irritation.

Uses of Moses in a Crib

  • The dwarf oyster does not like high light, being a great option to place it under taller plants
  • They also look great on their own on a stand, shelf in a small vase or as potted plants.
  • Oyster Plant is an excellent plant for hanging baskets, planters, and garden soil coverings.
  • For best results, grow with others of its kind, as grouping multiple plants help to keep humidity levels high.

How to grow an Oyster Plant

Plant Oyster Plant
Plant Oyster Plant
  • The oyster plant is perfect for planting in rock gardens because it grows well on rocky soils.
  • Planting oysters from the seed is easy, although the seeds usually take up to a month to germinate.
  • To break the seeds’ natural dormancy, keep them refrigerated for several weeks before planting.
  • Since oysters don’t like to be transplanted, if you start them indoors, be sure to plant the seeds in pots so that you can plant them with pots and everything, and avoid the shock of the transplant.   
  • Place the young plants in the shade of the warm sun. Keep them well watered and never let the soil dry.
  • When the plants are fully grown, cut the stems in half to strengthen the plant.
  • You are growing oysters for the leaves, not the flowers, so remove all flower buds, as they can deplete much of the plant’s energy. 
  • The leaves that are cut in the morning are more fragrant and tasty than those that are cut at the end of the day. Choose only half of the leaves, so that the plant can grow again.
  • The oyster plant does well in pots. An advantage of growing in pots is that you can place the pots on pebbles in water trays, and not only get more moisture in the leaves, but also prevent snails from attacking.
  • Always use fast-draining soil, such as a cactus potting mix, or add sand to the soil for normal potting. Mulch, especially in the summer, keeps the soil fresh and maintains moisture. 
  • Use your raw oyster leaf in salads or as a garnish for seafood, especially scallops and shrimp. Oyster leaf floats on top of the lobster soup.
  • You can surprise your guests with a bed of oyster leaves covered in wild mushrooms, like Hypomyces lactifluorum, the so-called lobster mushroom. Then you will eat fake lobster in fake oysters and never touch the seafood.

Is the oyster plant poisonous?

Is the oyster plant poisonous? The oyster plant has long, striped leaves that are green at the top and purple to green at the bottom. It has small white flowers at the base of the leaves.

It is often used indoors and outdoors as an ornamental plant. Plant sap can cause skin irritation and various symptoms if large amounts are ingested. The species can be poisonous in large quantities if ingested.

There are also reports of effects on pets, especially dogs that have developed severe allergies. Ingestion of the plant can cause irritation of the lips, mouth, throat and abdominal pain in animals and humans.

The oyster plant can affect you through:

  • Skin irritation
  • Itchy skin
  • Redness of the skin
  • Eye irritation
  • Itchy eyes
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Tearful eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • Burning eyes
  • Mouth irritation
  • Severe pain in the mouth
  • Lip irritation
  • Tongue irritation
  • Sore throat
  • Abdominal pain

What is Oyster Plant good for

The oyster plant, also called purple leaf spider herb or boat lily, is a fleshy or succulent perennial garden herb that belongs to the Commelinaceae plant family.

The oyster plant (Tradescantia spathacea) is a fleshy or succulent perennial herb. It is used for ornamental purposes in many tropical and subtropical climates. Medicinally, the plant is used for colds, sore throat, whooping cough, nosebleeds and also as an anti-inflammatory.

Medicinal use

  • Colds, sore throat and whooping cough
  • Nose bleed
  • Bacillary dysentery
  • Bleeding stools
  • Anti-inflammatory

How to use

  • The decoction of flowers and leaves is recommended for colds, sore throat, whooping cough, nosebleed, bacillary dysentery and blood in the stool.
  • A poultice made from crushed or crushed leaves can be applied externally to reduce inflammation or swelling.

Used ​​parts

The leaves and the flowers.

How tall do oyster plants get

How tall do oyster plants get? Oysters grow between 15 and 30 centimeters in height, with their green leaves at the top and the purple bottom forming a spiral rosette.

The spear-shaped leaves grow 15 to 30 centimeters in length and the plants on average about 30 centimeters in width, forming in dense clusters. When it receives enough light, the white flowers wrapped in purple vase-shaped bracts bloom all year round.

Why is my oyster plant dying

Why is my oyster plant dying? Your oyster plant may die due to following reason:

Withered leaves

If the leaves on your plant are falling, you should first check that the soil is dry for more information; place a finger on the first joint to test it. If the soil is dry, the solution is simple: your plant needs water. However, if the soil is still moist, your plant may have root rot, which is a fungal root infection caused by excess water.     

Yellowed leaves

Older leaves may turn yellow and fall off as part of the natural aging process, but if that happens too much or on newer leaves, you know you have a problem. This can be caused by too much sun, so if you think so, try moving your plant to a more shaded area.

Also make sure your plant is not receiving cold flow from an open window, door or air conditioner.   

Burnt brown spots on top of leaves

If these marks correspond to where the light falls on your plant through a window, then you are to blame: sunburn! Just remove the plant from direct light and it should be fine. 

Falling leaves

Weeping figs (ficus) and bougainvillea have a habit of dropping leaves when they move and feel stressed; they usually adapt to the new conditions. But a more common cause is cold air or excess water; other signs of excess water include brown or yellowish spots on the leaves, dead leaf tips and, of course, moist soil.    

Change the leaf color

If none of the above applies and your plant is generally healthy but looks a little pale and sick, you may be missing nutrients. Apply a weak solution of liquid fertilizer for a quick boost.

In winter, this may be enough, but in the warmer growing season you can follow up with a pinch or two of slow-release plant foods, but don’t overdo it – twice years is enough and check the application packaging rates.

Is Oyster Plant Invasive

Is Oyster Plant Invasive? The oyster plant is native to tropical range and subtropical America, and has naturalized in Florida and Louisiana, which is considered an invasive species. The dwarf oyster plant is a widely used ornamental plant and is considered less invasive than the larger variety.

The tricolor oyster is a tiny, slow-growing, sterile form of the once-popular oyster plant, an invasive species often called Moses in a vase because its small white flowers nestle in vase-shaped bracts. However, ‘Tricolor’, a 20 cm high dwarf with beautiful pink, white, and green leaves with a purple bottom, has no bad habits and is grown as a soil cover, border plant, and houseplant.

And although it is not a succulent, it is attractively paired with real succulents in desert environments.                   

Is the creeping Purple Heart poisonous to cats?

Is the creeping Purple Heart poisonous to cats? Creeping Purple Heart is toxic mainly for cats, and each of them is for us: bulbs, leaves, and flowers. The wandering Jew (tradescantia albiflora) thrives almost everywhere and is very difficult to eradicate. Dogs love to lie in cool areas as it is padded and refreshing.

It causes an allergic skin reaction in almost all cats. A rash and then callous and ugly areas of skin form on the “elbows”, groin, stomach, under the chin and anywhere in the body that comes in contact with the plant.       

Can you eat Oyster Plant?

Can you eat Oyster Plant? This plant has been used as food for more than 2,000 years. As a food, this plant gained, lost, recovered, and once again lost its popularity. All parts of the oyster plant are edible. It is a mild vegetable, with a slight oyster flavor, hence the name.

Once broken, the root tissue becomes discolored and quickly spoils if not eaten shortly thereafter. This process can be delayed if the root is stored in water with a little vinegar. New roots can be grated in salads, while older roots are cooked in soups and stews.

Latex from the oyster plant can be used to make gum. Edible flowers can also be added to salads, and young flower buds can be treated the same way you would use asparagus. Even achenes can be sprouted and added to salads.

Instead of removing this plant from the landscape as an unwanted weed, enjoy its ability to grow without our help, savor its delicious flavor, and enjoy the beautiful flowers while they last.        

Are oyster plants deer resistant?

The tricolor dwarf oyster plant, Tradescantia spathacea ‘Dwarf Tricolor’, is a highly varied non-invasive form of the oyster plant and this plant is resistant to deer.

How to grow oyster plant from seed

How to grow oyster plant from seed? Planting oysters from the seed is easy, although the seeds usually take up to a month to germinate. To break the seeds’ natural dormancy, keep them refrigerated for several weeks before planting.

The seeds are available in specialized nurseries, such as Baker Creek (www.rareseeds.com). Since oysters don’t like to be transplanted, if you start them indoors, make sure to plant the seeds in pots so you can plant with pots and everything, and avoid the impact of the transplant.

Place the young plants in the shade of the warm sun. Keep them well watered and never let the soil dry. When the plants are fully grown, cut the stems in half to strengthen the plant.

You are growing oysters for the leaves, not the flowers, so remove all flower buds, as they can deplete much of the plant’s energy.             

The leaves that are cut in the morning are more fragrant and tasty than those that are cut at the end of the day. Choose only half of the leaves, so that the plant can grow again. The oyster plant does well in pots.

An advantage of growing in pots is that you can place the pots on pebbles in water trays, and not only get more moisture in the leaves, but also prevent snails from attacking.

Always use fast-draining soil, such as a cactus potting mix, or add sand to the soil for normal potting. Mulch, especially in the summer, keeps the soil fresh and maintains moisture. Use your raw oyster leaf in salads or as a garnish for seafood, especially scallops and shrimp. Oyster leaf floats on top of the lobster soup.             

Mertensia maritima is easy to grow from seed, but as a cold germinator, it would be beneficial to keep the seed in the refrigerator for several weeks before planting. The seed should be sown in containers, preferably in a cold environment during autumn.

Keep young plants in the shade and don’t let the soil dry out. Carefully divide the plants when new growth begins in the spring and grow on sandy, well-drained soil, with partial sun and some shade at midday. Offers some protection against slugs.

The plant is quite fragile and does not like to be moved or transplanted, so it is highly recommended to grow it in pots and this will also help to protect against snails. As the plant grows, trim the stem to half its length regularly, as this will strengthen the plant and remove the flowers as you watch them open, as they absorb much of the plant’s energy.

The leaves are the most attractive part of the plant and, of course, what you intend to harvest, not the flowers. A morning harvest of the leaves will taste more fragrant than those harvested at the end of the day and remember to never collect more than half of the leaves, as the plant needs them to continue growing.

How to trim oyster plant

Let us check out how to trim oyster plant?

  • There are three common methods associated with pruning an oyster. This includes splitting, stem cuttings or seedlings. Choosing to obtain new individuals from seedlings can be a longer process than cuttings or stem splitting.     
  • Most plant enthusiasts would defend stem cuttings as the best propagation technique. We will list the steps later in this text for you to try at home! 
  • Trim the oyster plant with seedlings or seeds.
  • To propagate with seedlings, follow these simple steps:
  • In early spring, cut off the top of the plant. This encourages the plant to produce side shoots. 
  • Cut the side shoots after reaching 5 to 10 cm.
  • Plant cuttings in well-drained soil. To create the proper medium, mix equal parts of standard soil, leaf mold and sand. 
  • Cover the seedlings with plastic or glass and place them in a warm, shady place.
  • After about two months, the new shoots should appear.
  • To try to propagate from the seed, pollinate the flowers and then harvest the seeds in September or October.
  • Germinate the seeds during November and December to sow in the spring.

Can you eat Oyster Plant?

Can you eat Oyster Plant?

  • The brown seedlings of the oyster plant turn into long, thin pieces of grass, such as green leaves, which are also edible and can be added to mixed salads.
  • Brown roots can reach 20 to 30 centimeters in length and about 2.5 centimeters in diameter.     
  • They must be washed carefully and the thin skin removed by peeling or scraping.
  • The roots also exude a liquid milky and sticky white when cut.       
  • After removing the outer layer of the skin, the roots should be quickly covered with cold water with lemon juice or vinegar to avoid discoloration. From then on, a popular recipe calls for boiling the roots, kneading the cooked salsify, and turning it into fried dumplings. 
  • All parts of the oyster plant are edible. It is a mild vegetable, with a slight oyster flavor, hence the name. Once broken, the root tissue becomes discolored and quickly spoils if not eaten shortly thereafter.   
  • This process can be delayed if the root is stored in water with a little vinegar.
  • New roots can be grated in salads, while older roots are cooked in soups and stews.
  • Latex from the oyster plant can be used to make gum.
  • Even achenes can be sprouted and added to salads.

Growing Oyster Leaf Plant

Mertensia maritima also called oyster plant or oyster leaf. Or let’s call it a vegan oyster option! The oyster leaf is a perennial plant that tastes quite fragile when you think of it as a member of the plant kingdom! By the name, it doesn’t taste like oysters. With its thin greyish-green leaves       

Grow up

  • A good way to grow oyster leaf is to sow it directly in the garden. Thus you will obtain a strong plant, as it adapts to its habitat from the beginning.
  • Tried to transplant the oyster sheet from bed to bed, but it’s a little brittle. However, it can work, you just have to take care of it.
  • Therefore, in the spring, April or late April, after the frosts pass, it is time to sow
  • Prefers well-drained soils
  • It is also possible to sow indoors from the end of March and transplant them gently into the open field or in the garden in mid-April
  • Cultivation place in half shade.

Harvesting seeds

  • The plant produces small blue flowers: it cuts them, pruning the plant, making the plant strong and well-rooted.
  • It focuses on placing roots and side shoots, so to speak, becoming a plant with stronger and closer leaves.
  • But if you want seeds, you must let them bloom; that’s where the fruit of the seeds comes from. Let it bloom and you will get the small black seeds from each flower.

Take the seeds when they leave the plant; Shake a little and see if the seed falls to the ground. Now it’s ready.

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