Even though they are called “spider plants” (Chlorophytum comosum), they are one of the most popular houseplants to grow.
When planted indoors, these warm-weather perennials can handle less-than-ideal conditions, and they look great if you can make the air warm and humid like it is in their natural tropical habitat.
The rosettes of thin, softly arching leaves on these plants can be anywhere from 12 to 18 inches long. The leaves could be green or striped with white.
When plants get big enough, they regularly send up long stalks with tiny star-shaped flowers on them.
After the flowers are pollinated, a small amount of fruit grows. When the flowers fall off, tiny new plants grow in their place.
Eventually, these plantlets grow their own roots and can be pulled off to make new plants for pots.
Spider Plant Care
Spider plants are often used as hanging plants because of their long stems with plantlets and leaves that hang down. They look great when they grow on top of columns, too.
If you put their pot on a shelf or table, make sure the long stems of the plantlets don’t get too heavy and pull the pot down. In warm places, spider plants do well in planters outside and as edging or ground cover plants.
Most of the time, watering is the most time-consuming part of caring for a spider plant. Plan on fertilizing often during the growing season (spring to autumn). And when the roots of your plant have grown too big for the pot, repot it.
Outside, spider plants grow best in light shade. They can still grow in a lot of shade, but they will grow more slowly.
These plants can grow in many kinds of soil, but they do best in loose, sandy soil that drains well.
The pH of the soil is mostly neutral, but the spider plant can live in soil that is slightly acidic or slightly alkaline. If the soil has a lot of salt, the leaf tips may turn brown.
Spider plants like damp but not saturated soil. If you water a plant too much, the roots may rot, which can kill the plant in the long run. Some plants’ leaf tips may turn brown when fluoride and chlorine are in the water.
If you can, use rainwater or water that has been distilled for plants in pots. Because the fleshy tubers store water well, watering spider plants every now and then is not ideal, but it won’t hurt them much.
Temperature and Humidity
Also, if the humidity is too low, the tips of the leaves might turn brown. Keeping the plant at the right level of humidity may be helped by spraying it often.
During the busy growing times of spring and summer, these plants usually only need a small amount of food once a month.
If there is too much fertilizer, the tips of the leaves might turn brown, and if there is not enough, the plant might not grow well.
During the growing season, use a granular or water-soluble all-purpose fertilizer like it says on the package. Depending on how your plant is growing, you may need to change the amount.
Spider Plant Varieties
Spider plants come in many different sizes and shapes, such as:
- Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’: This variety has leaf margins of cream or white with a dark green stripe down the middle. Its long stems are green.
- Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’: This plant’s leaves have a center white stripe surrounded by medium green margins. Its long stems are white.
- Chlorophytum comosum ‘Bonnie’: This variety is more compact than the main species plant and has loosely curled leaves with green margins and a cream center stripe. It produces yellow flowers.
Propagating Spider Plants
You’ll want to give spider plants to everyone you know because they’re so easy to grow and make so many flowers. Even a beginner can do this:
- When the little plantlets on a spider plant’s stem grow roots that are at least an inch or two long, it’s time to spread the plant. Use sharp pruners to cut the plantlets off the stem, but leave the roots alone.
- Plant them in potting mix in a clay or plastic pot that drains well, and keep the soil damp (but not soggy) until they grow roots.
- Put a small pot with potting soil near the parent plant for plantlets that haven’t started to grow roots yet. Put the little plant on top of the soil in the new pot to keep it moist. In a few weeks, roots should start to show. Cut the baby plant off of the parent plant and move it to a new pot.
You can also pull out and split plants that are already grown. Separate the root ball into pieces, being careful to keep as many roots together as possible. Then, the pieces should be replanted.
How to Grow Spider Plant From Seed
Because spider plants are so easy to grow from offsets or by splitting the roots, they are rarely grown from seeds.
But you can use this method if you want to try planting seeds and you have a plant that is flowering and making seeds.
When the flowers fall off, a few small green seed pods should take their place. Once they are dry, you can take them off the plant and break them open to get the seeds inside.
Plant the seeds in a small container about 1/2 inch deep with potting mix. Keep the potting mix warm and wet until the seeds sprout. Fertility will vary, so plant a lot of seeds to make sure that some will grow.
Potting and Repotting Spider Plant
Spider plants should be grown in pots that are no bigger than a third of the size of the root ball. Use a loose potting mix and make sure the pots have a lot of holes for the water to drain out.
Every two to three years, you should plant new spider plants. You’ll know it’s time when you see roots growing out of the drainage holes and above the soil level.
The best time to repot is in the spring. Carefully take the plant out of its old pot and put it at the same depth in a slightly bigger pot. Then, put new potting soil around it.
Since these plants will naturally go into a semi-dormant state in the winter, less fertilizer should be used. Keep watering and spraying the plant, though, because spider plants need moisture even during the dry winter months.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
Spider plants are usually healthy, but aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites, which are common plant pests, can hurt them.
Worn-out leaves are a clear sign of an infestation. A natural and effective way to fight infections is to simply rinse the plant with water. For bigger infestations, a pesticide or a natural treatment like neem oil could be used.
How to Get Spider Plant to Bloom
Farmers rarely have to worry about plants that don’t bloom because spider plants don’t make pretty flowers.
As a treat, you could get little white flowers that were about 1/2 inch wide. You may also not want to repot these plants because they tend to do better when their roots are a little tight.
Fertilizing doesn’t do much to make flowers grow. If you want flowers, you might be better off not fertilizing.
Common Problems With Spider Plant
Spider plants don’t usually cause big problems, and when they do, they’re usually easy to fix.
Plant Is Too Sparse
When a spider plant looks like it’s in trouble, our first instinct is to give it more water or fertilizer. However, this is not the right thing to do. Instead, the problem might be fixed by repotting and dividing a plant with very crowded roots.
These plants grow quickly, and if yours suddenly starts to get sick after being healthy for months, it probably needs more room for its roots.
Cutting off some of the young “plantlets” may also help, since this puts the plant’s energy into making more shoots.
Tips of Leaves Are Burned
When a spider plant gets too much direct sunlight, the tips may turn brown. Don’t forget that some plants like indirect light or shade.
How long does a spider plant live?
The spider plant is a perennial plant. Many perennial plants that do well as houseplants do so because they live for a long time.
Spider plants that are cared for well and re-potted and divided regularly are often passed down from one generation to the next.
Can I grow spider plant as an outdoor garden plant?
Yes, spider plant can be grown outside as a garden plant in warm areas (zones 9–11), and it can also be grown outside as an annual in cooler areas. It is often used at the edge of a garden bed, in window boxes, and in raised beds.
Does spider plant really clean the indoor air?
Yes, spider plants, like formaldehyde, have been shown to clean the air in a room.
Some estimates say it would take as many as 700 plants in a very large indoor garden to completely clean the air in a house, but a home with many houseplants would be a little bit healthier.
Even in a small office, four or five spider plants will make a difference.