Rhoeo spathacea ‘Variegata’ (syn. R. discolor)

The Boat Lily is the only species in the genus Rhoeo. It has spread from Central America throughout practically all tropical regions. It often grows as an epiphyte. It resembles Tradescantia to which it is related; both belong to the same family. However, it is not suitable for hanging containers and is grown only in pots. The ornamental leaves are stiff, up to 35 cm (14 in) long and 35-70 mm wide. They grow upwards at a slant and are coloured a striking dark violet on the underside. The white, 3-merous flowers grow from the axils of the leaves between two spoon-like bracts. Both the type and the popular cultivar ‘Variegata’ with yellow-striped leaves are grown indoors. If placed in a light position the leaves are attractively variegated, but the plant does not tolerate direct sunlight.

Normal room temperature is sufficient; in winter the temperature should not fall below 16°C (61°F). The growing medium should contain peat. Water and mist the plant regularly to maintain a relative humidity of about 50-60 per cent. Propagate by means of sideshoots.

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