Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Spider Plant, Airplane Plant
Tropical Africa and South Pacific
What is the best houseplant for you and your home?
MEDIUM to high INDIRECT SUNLIGHT.
Though spider plants will tolerate lower levels of sun, they do not prefer it. Spider plants do not handle change very well, so find the brightest room in your home and keep it there. Regular sunshine is key!
Medium to high: CHECK WEEKLY.
Spider plants are one of the few houseplants that don't like to dry out. They can withstand if you miss a week, but will do much better if you water regularly. I suggest a smaller amount once a week. For example, I have my spider plant (pictured above) planted in a 6" terra-cotta pot and I water once a week with about two cups of water. I pour it on evenly and slowly.
Keep in mind the amount of water is primarily based on the amount of sunlight your houseplant is getting. So, watering is never a hard and fast rule, but one that needs to be experimented with and watched carefully until you establish a good routine.
All plants go into a rest period during the colder months, this is because there is less sunlight. Water less in the winter.
NORMAL TO MEDIUM: KEEP LEAVES DUSTY FREE
Coming from tropical regions spider plants would appreciate additional humidity. However, I have kept mine in an area with little to no humidity for months and it is doing just fine. I do however maintain a very regular watering schedule and rinse the leaves frequently.
Soil + Pot
POTTING MIX IN A TERRA-COTTA POT.
Choose terra-cotta. Because spider plants prefer to be in tight spaces I suggest not repotting up more than one size up at a time. I always choose terra-cotta for moisture-loving plants, like the spider plant, to help prevent root rot. If you have another planter you absolutely love and would rather use just be sure it has excellent drainage.
Pruning spider plants isn’t necessary. However, if a leaf or two is damaged or unhealthy feel free to pull it out. You can prune back the pups and root them if you desire or leave them on the mother plant for a fuller, more lush hanging plant.
HOUSEPLANT MIX: MONTHLY DURING SPRING AND SUMMER.
A general houseplant fertilizer is perfectly fine here. I suggest using a liquid, slow release concentrate. I have used Shultz brand and really loved it.* I use at half strength every time I water during the Spring and Summer. During fall and winter, I only fertilize once a month or not at all.
Spider plants get their name because of the little baby spider plants it shoots out, much like a strawberry does. These new baby plants are called plantlets. In the wild these plantlets, when they come in contact with moisture (usually in soil) will root and grow a new plant. Often time, if left to continue to grow, these plantlets will produce plantlets until the plantlet reaches the ground to produce roots and establish itself as a new plant. This process makes it incredibly easy for plant collectors to propagate them for ourselves! If you want to propagate your plantlets be sure to do it while the plantlet is still young. As they grow bigger the bottom scabs over and roots will no longer emerge with very much success.
My favorite method is using a vase of water. You can either leave it attached to the mother plant or cut it free. I have heard leaving them attached will help it to produce roots more quickly, though I have never tried it. Then place your cutting in a vase or jar filled with water so that just the bottom 1/2 or so stays 100% submerged in water. Keep in their until roots are well established, about three to five weeks. Keep in a mildly light space and away from direct sunlight.
Rooting your spider plant in soil follows a similar process and using this process you can also leave attached to the mother plant or opt to cut it free. If you choose to you can dip the bottom 1/4 inch of the plantlet in rooting hormone following the package directions. This step isn’t necessary, but it will certainly help establish stronger growth sooner. Then stick the plantlet into a small pot filled with moist soil. Keep soil moist at all times being very careful to avoid direct sunlight until roots are fully established.
Varieties + Cultivars
Zebra Grass Spider Plant
Pictured above, most commonly found. Long, thin leaves with green and white striping.
Bonnie Spider Plant
Not pictured. The leaves are a bright green and curl at the ends.
Variegated Bonnie Spider Plant
Not pictured. This looks just like the Bonnie Spider Plant, but with a stripe of white variegation down each leaf. (Just like the Zebra Grass Spider plant.)
Hawaiian Spider Plant
Not pictured. This variety looks very similar to the Zebra Grass Spider Plant but only the new leaves are variegated and as the mature they loose their variegation.
Pests + Common Problems
Plant not producing plantlets (aka pups)
Too large of a pot. Spider plants need to be in a tight space in order to reproduce, it is the tightness that tells the plant it is running out of space and forces new growth in the form of plantlets.
Nothing to worry about, this happens in the wild too and is usually not big enough of a problem to diagnose the plant. It can be hinting at too little humidity, too much direct sunlight, or most commonly, too much fertilization or too hard of water.
Brown Discs on leaves
Scale. Remove scale bugs from plant (this will be difficult and you will have to use your fingernail or a credit card). Isolate from other plants. Check plant twice a day and remove as many as humanly possible. Scale is hard to fight!
Ready to curate the houseplant collection of your dreams!?
(and to actually keep it alive)
p.s. Just because you’ve killed a succulent it doesn’t mean you’re a plant killer!
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