R. spathacea, also called R. discolor (Moses-in-the-cradle, man-in-a-boat)
CHARACTERISTICS: Moses-in-the-cradle derives its name from its tiny white flowers, which lie deep within boat-shaped petallike leaves, or bracts, like a baby in a cradle. The showy parts of the plant, however, are the 8- to 15-inch stiff swordlike leaves, which have purple-and-green topsides and purple undersides. In the variety R. spathacea 'Vittata', the variegated Moses-in-the-cradle, the leaves are striped with yellow.
HOW TO GROW: Moses-in-the-cradle
does best in bright indirect or curtain-filtered sunlight; if only artificial
light is available, provide at least 400 foot-candles. Night temperatures
of 50° to 55° and day temperatures of 68° to 72° are ideal.
Keep the soil barely moist. Feed established plants every three or four
months, but wait four to six months before feeding newly purchased or potted
plants. Repotting is not generally needed. Propagate old and straggly plants
at any season by dividing the roots. New plants can also be started from
seeds or from the young shoots, or suckers, that spring up from the base
of the plant. For best results pot in a mixture of 1 part loam, 1 part
peat moss or leaf mold and 1 part sharp sand; to each gallon pailful of
this mixture add 1 1/2 teaspoons of 20 per cent superphosphate, 1 tablespoon
of ground limestone and 2 teaspoons of 5-10-5 fertilizer. Otherwise, use
a packaged general-purpose potting soil. Generally pest free.