What you're learning
Popular for a name after an insect, the spider plant is nonetheless a plant. Particularly, it’s a plant normally kept indoors because of its ability to adapt to such conditions. It grows pretty easily in an indoor setting that it seems almost indestructible.
Spider plant belongs to the Asparagaceae family. It has a grassy appearance with elongated, narrow leaves in green and white stripes. Caring for it is not as demanding as other houseplants would require but first, you must learn the basic growing conditions.
|Scientific Name||Chlorophytum comosum|
|AKA||Spider Plant, Airplane Plant, St. Bernard’s Lily, Spider Ivy, and Ribbon Plant|
|Similar to||Lily turf (Liriope muscari)|
|Native to||South and West African|
|Shape||Grassy-like appearance with elongated, narrow leaves in green and white stripes
Produces plantlets that look like danging little spiders
|Maximum size||2 to 3 feet long spreading up to 2 to 2½ feet wide|
|Light requirements||Bright, indirect light (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)|
|Preferred temperature||65 to 75 F (18 to 24 C)
Not less than 50 F during winter
|Soil||Soil texture must be loam (silt) with good drainage and pH of 6 to 6.5|
|Fertilizer||Monthly application of liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half of the original strength|
|Propagation method||Propagation by division
Propagation by cutting off offsets
|Toxicity||Non-toxic to dogs and cats|
|Vulnerable to||Scales and mealybugs|
Growing spider plants indoors has been a popular practice because it’s a convenient option. If you’re a newbie or someone who just wants a more laidback option, the spider plant is perfect for you. The chance of mortality in this plant is very slim and propagation is almost straightforward.
To be able to produce the best spider plant, you have to provide the best growing conditions as much as you can. This includes giving the right amount of water, light, humidity, and nutrients. Additionally, it also requires knowledge of how to properly do repotting, pruning, pests, and disease management because you’d have to deal with such things from time to time.
Spider plant has medium water requirements. Water should be provided consistently but you have to wait for the soil to dry before watering again. This will prevent the plant from developing root rot.
You can test the soil’s moisture level by dipping your finger an inch below the soil. If it feels moist, then, there’s no need to water. If it feels dry, then, water must be provided.
Water quality is also an important consideration. If water is heavy in minerals especially calcium and fluoride, the leaves will have tip burns. Use rainwater whenever you get the chance to or you can use tap water but you have set it aside for a day first to allow salts to settle and chlorine to evaporate.
Light is very essential for any plant to produce its food. However, every plant has a distinct requirement of light intensity and period of exposure. For spider plants, what is preferable is a bright, indirect light.
You can put the spider plant near a window where sunlight is available. But, you have to avoid direct contact because it’s not good for the leaves. Either they will get scorched from the strong light intensity or they’ll get bleached, leaving your spider plant look pale in color.
Providing shade, like light curtains, is necessary. It will allow light to reach the plant with less intensity. You may also place other plants with higher height and leafy tops to serve as shade.
Generally, the relative humidity inside a home is enough for a spider plant to thrive. This is because they require only a moderate amount of humidity. However, drastic changes in humidity level such as extreme highs and lows can be detrimental to the plant’s health.
When this happens, you can do a few adjustments to make the condition favorable. When humidity gets low, you can do misting from time to time. Using humidifiers and pebble trays can also add moisture to the air.
You also need to protect your spider plant from high humidity. Fungus and other pathogens love such a moist environment so they grow easily. To avoid this, make sure your plant receives enough light and do not let the foliage become wet.
Plant Food and Soil
Spider plants do well even with a little amount of fertilizer. But of course, it would appreciate a steady supply of nutrients so you can feed the soil monthly during its active growth, March to October. No fertilizer should be added during winter because plants are normally dormant at this time.
Use a general-purpose houseplant liquid fertilizer. Dilute the fertilizer to only just half the strength of the original recommendation. Apply the diluted solution on the soil and never ever on the leaves.
The spider plant is able to tolerate root-bound but occasional repotting should be done. Repotting would give the roots enough space to breathe, absorb nutrients and water which results in a healthier plant.
Carefully remove the plant from the pot. Examine the roots and trim off excesses. You should also trim the upper portion of the plant if you trim the roots down there.
Prepare a fresh set of good quality potting mix and plant the spider plant there. Fill the spaces with soil, water the pot deeply, and let it drain well. Set the pot under the shade and avoid direct contact with bright light.
From time to time, you need to trim off the foliage of the plant especially if it already looks so dense. Overcrowded plants are less efficient so they’d become stunted. You can cut off the plantlets first (if present) and use them for propagation.
After that, you can cut the plant to the base and allow it to grow new leaves. Pruning should be done during spring or summer time. It also helps the plant to conserve moisture and nutrients.
You can propagate the spider plant using its plantlets. These plantlets are dangling smaller versions of the mother plant and they look like little spiders. You have to wait for these plantlets to grow their own roots.
Cut off the plantlets and plant them individually in different pots. Water them thoroughly and drain for a few hours. Set them aside in a shady place until they are established.
Pests aren’t much of a problem to spider mites. However, there are chances that they get attacked by scales and mealybugs. If you’re vigilant and are able to catch them early on, your plant will be safe.
Remove the pests manually from the leaves. You can also use a cotton ball dipped in alcohol to wipe them out. Spraying water with pressure is also a simple way to get rid of them.
The spider plant is considered as non-toxic to both cats and dogs, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (APSCA). This means that it’s okay for them to have contact or even ingest the leaves because it won’t cause them harm. Good news for everyone who owns a pet or two at home.
Nevertheless, it would be best to keep them away from any pet’s touch. Cats and dogs tend to be playful and they might accidentally ruin your spider plant.
Why are my spider plant’s leaves getting bleached?
Bleaching leaves are a result of too much exposure to light. Recall that spider plants love indirect light. If it receives strong light intensities, the tendency is for the leaf color to turn pale, thus, bleached appearance.
In this case, you’ll have to transfer the pot’s location or you may provide additional shade.
Why is my spider plant not producing many plantlets?
This happens when you’ve given much fertilizer to the plant. It tends to grow more foliage than smaller plants. If you want more plantlets to develop, you should manage your fertilizer application
How often should I prune a spider plant?
Basically, it depends on how dense the foliage gets. Once you see the plant overcrowding in the pot that it looks unpleasant to the eyes, you can start trimming it off. Also, if you’ve observed that the leaves are way thinner than usual, you may also prune them.
Pruning can also be done during hot seasons to conserve moisture. Removing the leaves would lessen the transpiration rate of the plant.
Growing spider plants is one of the easiest journeys you could take in raising indoor plants. Once you have them established, you won’t need to worry about losing them sooner in time. They can stay for as long as you want.
Sudden changes in the environment are not much of a threat because they can easily adapt. Nevertheless, you have to keep an eye on critical conditions because they might bring harm to your spider plant. After all, we all want the best for our indoor plants.