Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) are one of the most popular houseplants to grow, and it's easy to see why. Their graceful, arching appearance, their ability to bloom and produce adorable baby spider plants, and the lack of fuss they require are all reason enough to grow a spider plant. And when you consider the fact that they grow beautifully in hanging baskets (which gives you more room for growing plants indoors!) spider plants are a must for just about any houseplant grower.
Spider Plant Care
If you need a low-fuss houseplant that adapts well to just about any area of your home, take a look at spider plants. They are truly among the easiest houseplants to grow. And if you have children or pets, spider plant is a safe, non-toxic houseplant to have in your home.
Spider plants are very tolerant of a wide range of lighting conditions. The only lighting it really doesn't do well in is bright, direct light, since intense light tends to scorch its foliage. Medium indirect light to low light is ideal.
It's worth mentioning that while spider plant will grow quite happily in low light, variegation will slowly fade and the leaves will end up being fully green. It will also grow much slower. It's still very much worth growing if you have low light conditions, but it's worth keeping in mind so you're not disappointed over loss of variegation.
Spider plants grow best when their soil is kept damp but not soggy. Regular watering will help them thrive. Check the soil by sticking your fingertip about an inch into it. If the top inch is dry, it's time to water. Let any excess water drain from the pot to ensure that the plant isn't waterlogged.
You may have to water once or twice per week during very hot periods, but won't have to water as often (every week to ten days or so) during the winter.
If your water has a lot of fluoride or chlorine in it, you may want to water with spring water or collected rain water, since spider plants are sensitive to chlorine and fluoride. At the very least, fill your watering can and let it sit out overnight before watering your spider plants so some of it can dissipate.
Spider plants do best with regular fertilizing. For optimal growth and plant health, feed every two to three weeks through the spring, summer, and fall with a balanced houseplant fertilizer.
Spider plants don't need to be fertilized during the winter, when growth naturally slows.
If you don't fertilize, or don't fertilize as regularly as recommended, your spider plant will be just fine. It won't grow as quickly or flower as much, but it will be perfectly healthy.
Temperature and Humidity
Spider plants are not picky about temperature or humidity. Average home temps and humidity work just fine; if you're comfortable, your spider plant is as well.
During the colder months, keep spider plants away from cold windows or drafty areas; freezing temperature will damage or kill them.
If conditions are very dry, you may want to mist your spider plant once or twice per day with water; too little humidity can result in brown leaf tips.
Any good quality, well-draining potting mix will do for spider plants.
Spider plants are fairly fast growers, especially in medium to bright indirect light. If grown in low light, they don't grow as quickly.
If you find that the soil in the pot is drying out very quickly, or you see roots trying to escape from the drainage holes at the bottom of the container, it's time to repot. This is ideally done in spring, when the plant is growing more vigorously, but it can really be done at any time.
- Select a container that's one size up from the one the plant's currently growing in.
- Carefully remove the plant from its current pot.
- Add a one to two-inch layer of fresh soil to the bottom of the new container.
- Place the plant in the new pot, adding soil around the sides and gently firming it in.
- Water well.
Spider Plant Problems and Pests
Spider plant isn't susceptible to many pest or disease issues. They can sometimes become infested with aphids or spider mites. If they do, spraying with insecticidal soap (or just soapy water for a light infestation) will take care of the problem.
Other spider plant issues are usually related to watering or lighting.
- Yellowing leaf tips are often a result of fluoride or chlorine buildup from municipal water supplies. These don't hurt the plant, but if they bother you, consider switching to either rainwater you've collected outside, or purchase spring water to water your plants with.
- Brown leaf tips can also be caused by too much fertilizer. As mentioned above, they can also be the result of too little humidity. Fertilize no more than twice per month during the growing season, being sure to follow the directions on the package. Mist during dry conditions to supply humidity.
- Leaves that look bleached or burned are the result of too much hot, direct light. Move the plant away from the window.
Spider Plant Propagation
There are three general ways to propagate spider plants, and all of them are quite easy.
- Spider plants produce trailing stems, which will form tiny white flowers. How often it does this depends on the level of light the plant receives. After the plant blooms, those flowers will eventually turn into little baby spider plants, often called "pups" or "spiderettes." You can cut these babies off of the mother plant and either plant them directly into another pot to root, or root them in some water before planting.
- You can also place the pup in a small pot while it's still attached to the mother plant. This is often an even easier way to propagate, because the pup is still receiving nutrients and water from the mother plant while it's establishing roots.
- Spider plants can also be divided by dividing the root ball, carefully separating shoots from the main plant and repotting those in a new container.
Low Fuss, Plenty of Beauty
Spider plants are a great plant for new houseplant growers or those who don't have optimal lighting conditions. They're sturdy, easy to care for, and add a tropical feel to an indoor garden.