Oyster Plant Care (Tradescantia spathacea)

If you like purple leaves then you must grow the Oyster plant, which is also called Tradescantia spathacea. It has purple and green leaves. The oyster plant is best for beginners. Because it does not need much maintenance. Moreover, oyster plant care is simple.

Just give it a good growing environment and it will thrive beautifully.

Grow your oyster plants in good fertile soil, and set the temperature between 55 to 80 degrees F. Fertilize it once a month, and keep it in normal humidity.

Read below to know a single thing about oyster plant care in detail.

About the plant

This plant gets its name from its flowers that resemble Oysters. It is naturally found in Guatemala and in the Southern parts of Mexico. The native people called it Boat lily. It is not a real lily plant, it gets a boat lilt name because of the shape of its leaves.

Oyster plants are members of the Commelinaceae family. They grow 6 to 12 inches in good growing conditions. The plant leaves have a green top surface and purple undersides. There are three common types of Oyster plants that are mostly found in plant nurseries.

Golden oyster plant

Tricolor oyster plant

Dwarf oyster plant

It does not matter which type you choose to grow. The growth techniques and needs are the same for all oyster plants. Therefore, pay close attention to the below part and learn what thing you need to grow oyster indoors.

Quick care guide

Common names Oyster plant
Toxicity Non-toxic to animals and humans
Light Low bright light
Water Moderate
Humidity 50% or Above
Soil Well -draining
Temperature 55 to 80 degrees F
Pests and Diseases Mealybugs, Spider mites, and Root rot

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Oyster Light Requirements

You can grow your oyster plant in low indoor light. But they do not develop bright color leaves. In too low light conditions oyster plant leaves lose their purple color. And the plant develops only green color leaves. If your oyster plant has green leaves then the problem is too low light.

Bright light is necessary to keep the leaves healthy and bright. The tricolor oyster plants need more bright light to maintain their tri-color leaves.

Do not grow this plant in an outdoor garden. Direct sunrays can damage the soft leaves. If you still want to grow it then grow it in containers and put them outside in warm weather. You also have to arrange shade for the plant. If possible, move the container to a place where it can only get 2 hours of morning sunlight.


The soil is not a problem as long as it drains well. Because the heavy clay type soil becomes soggy when watered. They invite many bacterial and fungus diseases. For proper oyster plant care use, good fertile loose soil. If possible, add some organic substance to it.

If you know about potting mixes then you can make it at your home. Below are few recommendations.

Potting soil + Coarse sand + organic compost

Perlite and potting mix in equal quantity

Potting soil + perlite + compost

The most important thing that you need to keep in mind while making soil is drainage properties. Oyster plants do not like soggy soil. In fact, they cannot survive in wet soil because they have soft roots. And root rot can easily destroy plant roots in few days.

If your garden soil is highly fertile you can use it instead of commercial potting soil. But before filling the pot you need to sterilize the garden soil. Sterilization is required to kill harmful bacteria and pathogens. This process will not kill the important nutrients

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Watering oyster plants

You will be surprised to know that oyster plants can handle a little bit of dry soil. But the excess water in the pot surely causes root rot. Most of the time oyster plants cannot survive in root fungus conditions. Because they have small roots and root fungus eat them in just a few days. Therefore, you need to be very careful while watering the plant.

In summer the plant needs more water than the cool days of the winter. Saturate the soil well at the time of watering. This way you do not need to water it before 5 to 6 days. In winter, check the soil moisture and then water the plants. The top 2 inches of the soil should be completely dry before watering.

And do not use the summer watering technique. Just take a jug of clean pure water and pour some at the base of the plant.

It is best to keep the plant a little bit on the dry side to promote good growth. Use a soil moisture meter to measure the water content in it.


55 to 80 degrees F is the ideal temperature range for oyster plant care. It is native to the tropical parts of the world. There it grows in warm weather in high humidity. You need to give it the same temperature range in your house. Fortunately, the temperature of our houses is perfect for all tropical plants. The problem comes with humidity.

One thing keeps in mind, oyster plants do not like frequent changes in the room temperature. This gives them a sudden shock that directly affects the plant size and leaf color.

If you are not sure about the room temperature. Then you need to use the room temperature monitor. By using it you can check the room temperature of any part of the house.


For healthy leaves put the plant pot in medium humidity. 50% is the minimum humidity for the oyster plant care and maintenance. In a low humid location, the plant leaves turn into brown color. Firstly, they develop brown tips to indicate that they are suffering in the area. Then if the grower does not take notice. The entire leaves turn into brown color and fall off the plant.

Take a try of small pebbles and fill them with water. Then keep your plant pot on it. This will surely increase the humidity of the place.

You can also put it in the shower room but only if there is plenty of light and air for the plant. Otherwise, the plant will get damaged in unfavorable conditions.

The last option is to use an electric humidifier. These powerful devices are used to increase the humidity of the entire house or a single room.

Plant grouping is another technique but it will not work if you only have 2 to 4 pots of plants. For this method to work you should have a minimum of 7 pots of different plant species.

Fertilizing Oyster plants

Tradescantia spathacea need less fertilizer as compared to the other tropical plants. But as we all know for the best possible growth and care we need to give some nutrient boost. Use liquid fertilizer and give your plants only in spring and summer.

Do not use any kind of organic or synthetic fertilizer on winter days. Winter is the dormancy period. Your plant will get burn in case of winter fertilization.

We have fast and slow-releasing nutrients for plants. Particularly for this plant use slow-releasing fertilizer. If you use organic fertilizer then you do not need to boost it again with nutrients for the next 100 days.

Organic nutrients release all the essential nutrients at a slower rate. This helps the plant to absorb and ingest the every batch of nutrients. Both fast and slow nutrients are equally effective for tropical houseplants.

The salt build-up is common in oyster plants. The unabsorbed nutrients get collected around the plant roots. This forms white salt-like material. To prevent it you need to flush the soil a few times a year. Following is the technique of soil flushing.

Bring the plant close to the sink and turn on the tap. Allow the water to deeply penetrate the plant roots. Keep the tap ON for 5 minutes. After that turn it OFF and let the plant there for 10 minutes to drain the extra water. Then take the plant to its original place.


The first thing you need for repotting is good draining soil with organic matter. Do not repot the plant that you just purchased from the local nursery. Let it get familiar with its new place. After that, you can think about changing the plant pot.

Remove the plant from the pot and take a pot that is one size up

Fill it half with potting mix

Plant the oyster plant in it and cover the remaining with soil

Give some water and put it in its right location

Propagation of oyster plants

Every mature oyster plant develops shoots. These are the small plants that grow on the sides of plant pots. To multiply your plants, pull the shoots out of the pot and then repot them in different plant pots.

Then put the pot in a warm location and give it some water. The shoots will grow into a big beautiful plant in a few months.


Generally, oyster plants do not get plant diseases and common pests. They are naturally resistant to many common problems. But overwatering can surely cause root rot. The first sign of wet roots is black and mushy leaves.

To save your plants from root fungus limit the water supply to the plant. Also, check the type of soil you use . It has to be well-draining soil. If you only use garden soil in pots. Then the 80% chances are your plants will surely get root rot.


Mealybugs and Spider mites are common pests. Most of the time they attack unhealthy and dirty plants. Keep the plant and surroundings clean to prevent pest infections.

Mealybugs are small pests that are coated in white cotton-like substances. They suck the sap of the plant. They lay their eggs in plant leaves. You can easily identify them from other pests.

Spider mites are the second most common pests. They are also called sapsuckers. They make a web over the plant like normal spiders. Plants that are infected by spider mites become weak in few days.

The good is you can treat all the pests with common solutions. Firstly, use insecticidal soap. Take the plant to the tap and rinse your plant by using soap. They leave it there and then apply neem oil all over the plant. This will kill the remaining pests and also help the plant to heal soon.

Oyster plant tips turning brown

This is a common problem and the reasons are over-fertilization or low humidity. Use your hygrometer and measure the room humidity if it is low. Then follow the above-written steps to increase it. For instant humidity, you can put the plant in the bathroom for 10 hours. Put the plant right after you take shower. Because that is the time when the bathroom humidity raise to 90%.

On the other hand, if humidity is good and fertilizers are the problem. Then you need to flush the soil, everything about flushing the soil is explained above in the post.

Oyster plant leaves turning brown

If the entire leaf of a plant turns brown the reason must be extra bright light or over water. Measure the light with a plant light meter. If it is too high intense light then move the plant to a suitable location.

If the light is not a problem, then check the soil conditions. If you feel the soil is soggy or wet then stop giving water. The problem will get solved in few days. Remember that you cannot make brown leaves green again. You have to cut them and remove them from the plant.

Then the plant spends its energy producing new leaves in their place.

I hope you understand the article and it will help you to grow your oyster plants. If you have any questions about oyster plant care, propagation, and common plant problems. Write us by using our contact form. We will reply As Soon as possible.

2 thoughts on “Oyster Plant Care (Tradescantia spathacea)”

  1. I’ve looked everywhere online & can’t find the answer to should I trim back the brown part of the leaves? I have 2 leaves that have became brown at tips. I’m pretty sure due to my grow lights being left on too long. Should I trim them back as I would on other plants? Thanks.

    • Yes, you can trim them because brown leaf tips will never turn green again. Trimming the dead parts of the plants is an essential part of their care.


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