Spider plants (Chlorphytum comosum, also known as airplane plants) are one of the easiest houseplants to grow and propagate, just one reason these attractive house plants are so popular. Their long, narrow leaves grow from the center of the plant in variegated stripes of green and white. Some spider plants have a reverse stripe pattern, with white on the outside, or may be solid green. Gracefully arching stalks grow from the plant, forming plantlets on the end. Spider plants create a beautiful display of greenery when the pot is suspended from a plant hanger, and improve indoor air quality by removing toxins from the environment.
The Best Environmental Conditions For Your Spider Plant
Spider plants can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, but may be harmed by frigid air or hot sunlight. They adapt to low-light conditions and fluorescent lighting but have their best color and variegation when they are placed near a bright window where the hot afternoon sunlight won’t strike them directly. When hung outdoors, they should be sheltered from the mid-day sun.
Potting Your Spider Plant
Use a high-quality potting soil for all of your house plants. Good soils will allow for better drainage, and some also contain fertilizers. Spider plants like to be pot bound, that is, to fill the soil with roots, rhizomes (horizontal underground stems that send out new shoots) and tubers. A pot-bound spider plant will send out many more stalks that form baby plants. Pot your spider plant in a container that is proportional to its size, and let it grow to fill the container. You won’t need to repot or divide your spider plant until the rhizomes are creeping over the edges of the container.
Feeding Your Spider Plant
These house plants are sensitive to fertilizers, so use about half the recommended strength each time you feed them. Too much fertilizer will damage the roots and may kill the spider plant. Spider plants that look healthy and are growing well don’t need to be fertilized at all.
Watering Your Spider Plant
Spider plants need watered about once a week, erring on the side of dryness. The large underground tubers produced by spider plants allow them to hold more water than many houseplants, and overwatering is a common problem. The leaf tips will turn brown with a yellow line between the brown tips and the still-green section of the leaf when the plant is kept too moist, and the crown of the plant will begin to rot from the center. Once rotting has begun, the plant won’t recover. A plant that has been allowed to dry out severely will often spring back to life when it is watered. You can cut the leaves down to the crown if the foliage has become too unattractive, and the plant will soon send up new leaves .
Propagating Your Spider Plant
With minimal care your spider plant will grow quickly and send out stalks with baby plantlets on the end, which can be potted to grow new plants. To produce the healthiest new plants, place smaller pots of soil around the parent plant and arc the stalks so the babies reach the soil. Anchor the plantlets down in the small pots with a stone or piece of bent wire. When the first new leaves begin to grow, the babies have rooted and can be cut away from the parent plant. Once the babies are on their own, cut the stalk away from both the plantlets and parent plants. Spider plant babies may also be cut free and rooted in soil or water, but it’s not their preferred method and will result in less healthy plants.