How to grow and care for Spider Plants Indoors

Houseplant, Spider Plant

Botanical name: Chlorophytum comosum
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Agavoideae

Spider Plant also called Airplane Plant, Spider Ivy or Ribbon Plant is a popular houseplant, fast growing and easy to grow even for a beginner. It is ideal for a hanging basket or a pedestal and is a good air cleaner. Spider Plant is extremely adaptable and will grow in hot or cool rooms, in sun or shade and it will withstand dry air. It bears slender, arching leaves which grow from a central crown and can reach up to 1 ft long. Mature Spider Plants produce numerous long stems which bear tiny plantlets that can be used to propagate new Spider Plants. The young and small plantlets root faster than the large and old ones. Spider Plants are native to tropical and southern Africa and naturalized in other parts of the world including western Australia. Several varieties of Spider Plants are available with varying variegation form like 'Variegatum' with green leaves trimmed in white and 'Vittatum' with a central white stripe on green leaves.

How to Grow Spider Plants

Light

Spider Plants prefer bright, indirect light inorder to maintain variegation but they can still adapt to low light conditions. Protect them from direct sunlight to avoid scorching the leaves. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Water

Water Spider Plants liberally during the growing season and keep the soil evenly moist through out. Reduce watering during the cold season to keep the soil barely moist. Use chlorine-free water which is at room temperature. Spider plants are sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in the water. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead in root-rot. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth with a minimum of 120C is ideal for Spider Plants. Protect the plants from cold draughts. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Average room humidity is ideal for Spider Plants. Mist the leaves occasionally and clean them by damp-wiping with a soft cloth.

Feeding

Feed Spider Plants with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer every 4 weeks during the growing period. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time may lead to fertilizer burn. Regularly flush out accumulated salts from the soil by running a stream of water through the soil until the water comes out through the drainages holes. Let the water run for a few minutes and repeat several times. Learn more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Spider Plants during the growing season only when the plant has become pot-bound. Use a rich, free-draining soil and a pot one size larger. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole(s) to prevent waterlogging which can lead to root-rot. Large Spider Plants can be split up and potted into individual pots.

Pruning

Pruning Spider Plants involves frequent removal of any dead foliage. Cut back the leaves at the beginning of the growing season to rejuvenate growth. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate Spider Plants

Spider Plants can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from plantlets or from splits.

Propagating Spider Plants from plantlets in soil
Peg down the plantlets into soil while still attached to the mother Spider Plant. Cut the stem when rooted and pot in moist free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Use a pot that has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. The plantlets can also be detached from the mother Spider Plant and planted in moist free-draining soil until rooted and then transplanted into individual pots. For a full and bushy Spider Plant, plant several plantlets in the same pot. The mother plant can also be made more full by planting several plantlets alongside the mother.

Propagating Spider Plants from plantlets in water
Plantlets can also be rooted in water. Detach the plantlet from the mother Spider Plant. Place the plantlet in a jar of plain water, ensure the tiny roots at the base are touching the water. Change the water weekly. Place the set up in a well-lit place. Wait until the roots are about 4 in. long before transferring to soil. For a full and bushy Spider Plant, plant several plantlets in the same pot. The mother plant can also be made more full by planting several plantlets alongside the mother.

Propagating Spider Plants from splits
Divide the Spider Plant into several sections while ensure each section has some roots. Pot each section in individual pots in moist free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to avoid waterlogging. Place the set up in a cool shaded place and maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges. Allow the new Spider Plant to be well established before transfering.

Common Problems in Growing Spider Plants

  • Brown leaf-tips
  • There are several reasons for brown tips in Spider Plants. One reason is underfeeding; feed Spider Plants every 4 weeks during the growing season. The second reason is excessively hot air; mist the leaves more regularly during the hot season or set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity. The third reason for brown leaf-tips in Spider Plants is underwatering or overwatering; maintain the soil moist but never allow the soil to be waterlogged or the soil ball to dry out completely.

    Overfeeding or accumulation of salts in the soil is the fourth cause of brown tips in Spider Plants; regularly flush out accumulated salts from the soil. The fifth reason for brown leaf-tips is bruising from human or animal traffic; place the plant away from the line of traffic. The sixth reason for brown leaf-tips in Spider Plants is bacterial leaf spot which starts as light spots on the leaf tips which turn brown and eventually black. The disease is prevalent in hot and humid conditions. Avoid wetting the foliage when watering.

  • No plantlets
  • There are two reasons why Spider Plants will not produce plantlets. One reason is that the plant is too young. The stem bearing plantlets only form on mature plants but the plants need to be pot-bound; avoid frequent repotting. The second reason for no plantlets in Spider Plants is overfeeding; withhold feeding in order to stress the plant so that it can put out the plantlets.

  • Leaves curled with brown spots and edges. Some yellowing and leaf drop
  • Underwatering Spider Plants is the reason for curled leaves with brown spots and edges while some leaves yellow and drop; water liberally and maintain the soil moist at all times during the growing season. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

  • Brown leaf streaks
  • Too much water during the cold season is the cause of brown leaf streaks in Spider Plants; reduce watering and maintain the soil barely moist during the cold season.

  • Pale limp leaves with some yellowing and leaf drop
  • Exposure of Spider Plant to too much heat and too little light are the cause of pale limp leaves with some yellowing and leaf drop. Keep Spider Plants away from hot direct sunlight.

  • Pests
  • Spider Plants are rarely attacked by pests but a weak plant can be attacked by Spider Mites, Aphids, Scale Insects and Mealy Bugs. Ensure the Spider Plants are healthy at all times.

Toxicity

Spider Plants (Chlorophytum comosum) are non-toxic to both humans and pets. The plants are safe to grow indoors.

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