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Growing and Caring for Spider Plants – An Essential Guide

a spider plant on a window shelf with the sun shining on it

With their graceful, arching foliage and easygoing nature, it’s no wonder spider plants are such popular houseplants. These attractive plants are exceptionally adaptable and low maintenance, making them ideal for both novice and expert gardeners alike.

In this blog post, we will provide a complete guide on growing and caring for spider plants. Read on to learn more about these “hens and chicks” plants!

An Introduction to Spider Plants

Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) are native to tropical and southern Africa. They earned their common name due to their long, thin, arched foliage that resembles spider legs. Other nicknames for spider plants include ribbon plant, airplane plant, and hen and chicks plant.

The “hen” is the main plant, while the smaller “chicks” are the offshoots or plantlets that grow from the mother plant on flowering stems. This easy method of propagation makes multiplying spider plants simple.

There are a few different varieties of spider plants with minor differences in leaf markings and structure. The most popular is Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’ which has leaves with white stripes running lengthwise down the foliage. An all-green variety known as ‘Plain Jane’ also exists.

Spider plants are perennial herbs that grow in a clumping or rosette form. At maturity, the foliage can reach up to 3 feet long and the entire plant spreads out to around 2-3 feet wide. Their relatively small size makes them great for desktops and tabletops.

a spider plant on a kitchen shelf with metro tiles

The Benefits of Spider Plants

Part of the appeal of spider plants comes from the fact that they are so easy to maintain. For beginner plant parents, they are very forgiving and can tolerate a fair amount of neglect. Their versatile nature also means they thrive in a variety of home environments.

Beyond being a beginner-friendly houseplant, spider plants also offer additional benefits:

  • Help purify indoor air by removing toxins like formaldehyde, xylene, and carbon monoxide.
  • Undemanding and adaptable to various light, watering, and temperature conditions.
  • Produce young plantlets on runners or stolons which can be used for propagation.
  • Add unique texture and interest to rooms with their arching thin leaves.
  • Come in a variety of different leaf markings and colors.

For these reasons, spider plants make excellent additions to offices, dorm rooms, kitchens, living spaces, nurseries, and anywhere that needs a little extra greenery.

How to Grow Spider Plants

a spider plant on a rustic window ledge in an old pot

Caring for these plants does not require much effort once you understand their preferences. Here are some tips on how to successfully grow spider plants in your home or office:

Light Requirements

They adapt well to various lighting conditions, from bright indirect light to lower light areas. Ideal lighting ranges from moderate to bright diffused light. Direct hot sunlight can scorch their leaves, especially if the plant isn’t acclimated. Insufficient light leads to sparse foliage.

Watering and Soil Needs

Spider plants prefer evenly moist, but not soggy soil. Allow the top inch or two of soil to dry out between waterings. Water approximately once per week, but increase frequency with higher light. Reduce water in darker locations. Overwatering leads to droopy, yellow leaves. Use well-draining potting soil and pots with drainage holes.

Temperature and Humidity

They thrive in average home temperatures between 60°F to 80°F. They can tolerate slightly cooler or warmer temps. Average humidity around 40-50% is fine. Their native African habitat does experience higher heat and humidity.

Fertilizer

Fertilize monthly during the spring and summer using a balanced houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength. Cease fertilizing over winter when growth slows. Excess fertilizer can cause leggy growth and burn leaf tips.

Potting and Repotting

Spider plants have shallow root systems and do not require frequent repotting. Only repot when the roots have filled the current pot, generally every 2-3 years. Plant in containers one size larger and use a well-draining potting mix and ensure the pot has drainage holes.

The best time to repot these plants is in the spring.

Keeping Plants Neat

Trim off any dead or damaged foliage at the base of the plant. Also snip off older leaves occasionally to encourage new growth. If desired, remove the baby spider plantlets to control spread. Plantlets are also easy to propagate!

How to Propagate Spider Plants

a spider plant hanging from a window in a macrame planter

One of the easiest ways to multiply your plant collection is through propagation. Spider plants naturally produce baby spiderettes or plantlets on flowering stems.

Here are some methods to propagate spider plants at home:

  1. Plantlet Propagation

Simply remove the baby spider plantlets that emerge on wiry stems from the mother plant. Place in pots of soil or root them in jars of water. Keep them evenly moist and transfer to soil once roots develop.

  1. Division

Carefully divide the rootball of more mature plants, ensuring each division has some roots and foliage. Replant divisions in small pots.

  1. Stem Cuttings

Take 4-6 inch stem cuttings below the joint where leaves emerge. Remove lower leaves and place in water or moist potting mix. Roots and new growth will eventually form.

  1. Runners

Guide the spider plant’s runners back into the pot and cover sections with soil. New roots and plants will generate at these buried nodes.

How to Grow Spider Plants from Seed

  1. Obtain Plant Seeds
  • Spider plant seeds can often be found at garden stores, nurseries, or online retailers that sell seeds.
  • Look for fresh seeds packaged for the current year. Older seeds may have reduced germination rates.
  1. Plant Seeds in Seed Starting Mix
  • Fill small pots or seed trays with a lightweight seed starting mix. Moisten the soil before planting.
  • Sow seeds on the soil surface and lightly cover with 1/4 inch of additional mix.
  • Alternatively, place 1-2 seeds in each cell of a seedling tray filled with soil.
  1. Maintain Consistent Moisture
  • Spider plant seeds require consistently damp soil to germinate successfully.
  • Water seeds daily or whenever the top of the soil begins to dry out. Be careful not to oversaturate.
  • Consider using a seedling heat mat to enhance germination.
  1. Ongoing Care
  • Water seedlings when the top inch of soil becomes dry. Avoid soggy soil.
  • Fertilize lightly with half strength houseplant fertilizer once a month.
  • Gradually introduce outdoor light if hardening off before moving outside.

Common Problems with Spider Plants

spider plant with lots of baby spiderettes

Spider plants are generally hassle-free if you meet their minimal care requirements. However, here are a few potential problems you may encounter:

  • Leaf tips turning brown – This usually results from dry air, inconsistent watering, or buildup of salts from tap water. Improve watering consistency and use distilled or rain water.
  • Yellowing leaves – Can indicate overwatering or underwatering issues. Check that soil is drying adequately between waterings.
  • Leggy growth – Indicates insufficient light. Provide brighter light to encourage compact growth.
  • Leaf spotting or fungus gnats – Allow soil to dry out further between waterings to prevent fungal issues. Use neem oil as needed.
  • Flower stalks not forming plantlets – Lack of nutrients or light often causes this. Improve lighting and fertilization.

With the right care, these plants are sure to multiply and thrive for many years. Their easygoing nature makes them a great choice for adding a touch of green to your indoor spaces.

Do spider plants need special fertilizer?

  • You can use a general-purpose houseplant fertilizer every month during the growing season (spring and summer).

Can they be grown outdoors?

  • Yes, in mild climates. They prefer temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C) and should be brought indoors when it gets colder.

Are spider plants safe for pets?

  • Yes, they are non-toxic to cats and dogs, making them a great choice for pet owners.

How can I make my plant fuller?

  • Regular pruning of dead or yellowing leaves and providing adequate light will encourage fuller growth.

What kind of pot is best for a spider plant?

  • A pot with good drainage is essential. These plants do well in both hanging baskets and standard pots.
the essential guide to spider plants pinterest pin

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