Growing and Caring for Spider Plants
Spider plants are one of the easiest houseplants to grow, and they're almost impossible to kill. Those without a green thumb can achieve great success growing these hardy houseplants. Spider plants make excellent hanging baskets, and their ornamental features add a great deal of beauty to a home.
TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Sisan Patterson adds, "there are three species of spider plants and one that is commonly grown indoors - Chlorophytum comosum."
Spider plants are available in solid green, and variegated yellow or creamy-white striped varieties. They have long ribbon-like leaves that looking like ornamental blades of grass, gently arching over the sides of the planter.
Healthy spider plants have long trailing stems that bear tiny white blooms, followed by spider-like plantlets. The plantlets are miniature replicas of the parent plant. They can be removed and rooted to create new plants, or left in place for added structure and beauty.
If you want a fast-growing houseplant, the spider plant is an excellent choice. With adequate light and proper care, they can reach a diameter of 2 1/2 feet, and an amazing length of 3 feet in a short amount of time.
Ideal Growing Conditions
Spider plants aren't demanding houseplants, but they have a few requirements for optimal health and growth. They require bright, indirect sunlight, and they can be grown beneath artificial lighting if necessary.
If you want your spider plant to produce plantlets, artificial lighting should be limited to daytime hours, to naturally simulate the shorter days of autumn. This is the time of year when plantlets begin to emerge.
Temperatures in the home during daylight hours should range between 65 and 80 degrees F.
TIP: Susan says, "I wouldn't worry about daytime vs nighttime temps. As long as the spider plant is not exposed to temperatures of 40 degrees or lower for long periods of time it will do well.
Watering and Feeding
Maintain consistently moist soil, and avoid saturation. Spider plants have tuberous roots that are prone to rot if constantly drenched.
TIP: Susan adds, "Again, I would not worry about spring vs. summer, fall etc. If the soil is kept evenly moist at all times, it will be fine. The amount you water will depend on the size of the plant and the container size as well."
If your water comes from a municipal water supply, consider buying distilled water, or collect rainwater for your spider plant. Chlorinated water that contains fluoride will cause the tips of the foliage to turn brown.
TIP: Susan says, "I would use a complete, soluble fertilizer for houseplants, as long as you are following the directions and not fertilizing too frequently, this should be fine. You should fertilize twice per month if the plant is in high light, and once every three months if it is in medium light.
Plantlets are very easy to propagate, and they can be rooted any time of year. They can be placed in prepared potting soil while still attached to the parent plant, or they can be removed and rooted in water.
To propagate a plantlet that is attached to the parent plant, purchase commercial potting soil, or create your own mixture by combining equal parts of peat moss, perlite, and a sterile fibrous growing medium. It will take approximately 6 weeks for the roots to become established, after which the plantlet can be cut from the parent stem.
Alternately, a plantlet can be cut from the parent plant and rooted in a cup of water. Simply cut the plantlet off the parent stem, and set it in a glass of water that will support the foliage and keep it out of the water. Place the glass in an area of indirect lighting, and in a week or two, you'll see white roots beginning to grow from the base of the plantlet. When the roots are 2 or 3 inches long, the plantlet can be potted in soil.
TIP: Susan adds, "This is a much easier way to propagate and more common than the first method, and will result in a quicker root, however, rooting in soil will give a more adaptable root.
Spider plants have very strong roots, and when a plant becomes root bound, the roots can crack the pot. Don’t wait for your spider plant to outgrow the container. Repot the plant before the roots become overcrowded.
Divide your spider plant if you want to keep the size under control, or repot it in a larger container. Use sterile commercial potting soil, or mix your own according the above instructions.
Your spider plant will thrive and grow for many years to come!