Lush & Fast Growing: The Spider Plant
Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) have long been popular because they’re so easy to grow (both indoors and outdoors). If you’re looking for a lush, fast growing houseplant that’s fuss-free, this one’s for you. Here are a few tips to get you started…
Appearance: Green leaves with either a white or yellow (or cream) central strip or along the outside edges (it can also have ones that are all green). It looks similar to thick, wild grass and there are several different varieties found that have different features: leaves that curl, are very short or very long.
Watering: They like an evenly moist but well draining soil, allow the top of the soil to dry between watering. Slow down watering a bit during the winter months. It doesn’t care for fluoride usually found in tap water (the common cause for brown leaf tips). Use distilled water or water that has sat for at least 24 hours. If you have an aquarium, it thrives on that water.
Humidity: It will grow heartily in both humid and dry air but let it sit in the bathroom for a day or two once in awhile so it can get a nice dose of a humid environment–your plant will love you for it. You could also occasionally mist the leaves with distilled water using a spray bottle.
Growing Tip: Rotate it occasionally so it will grow evenly rather than lopsided.
Lighting: They’re happy in both full sun and shade but if plantlets fail to develop it’s likely because they’re not getting enough light or too much light. An ideal location would be somewhere it will receive lots of natural light but not in direct sun.
Fertilize: You can feed it during Spring and Summer (every two to three months or so), but don’t fertilize during late Fall and Winter when it is typically dormant.
Outdoors: Can be grown in a hanging basket or in flower beds for edging and ground cover. They can spread up to 3 feet so make sure you choose a spot that will accommodate their growth. If you’re moving it outdoors for the summer, first acclimate it by starting it in a shady spot then slowly moving to a sunny location.
Plantlets Tips: The plant will develop long stolons that will grow flowers and then plantlets (offsets) or even seeds if pollinated and keep producing them until they trail several feet (stolon–>plantlet–>stolon–>plantlet–>and on and on for up to six feet). These look like “baby spiders”. The plantlets are what you want to snip to propagate and multiply. Young plants won’t produce plantlets. If it’s not growing “babies”, it could be because it isn’t mature enough (around two years old), it’s growing in too small a pot or overcrowded, receives too little sun or too much sun.
How To Propagate: Snip off the little plantlets to root in compost or rooting medium, or you can divide the whole plant. Tip: you can propagate while the plantlet is still growing on the “mother” plant–just press the “baby” plantlet into rich potting soil that’s kept moist–it will root and then you can snip it off the mother. You can also root plantlets in a cup of water then transfer to soil once roots develop. As you can see, they are so easy to propagate!
Troubleshooting Brown Leaf Tips: A common problem with spider plants is that they can develop brown leaf tips. There are a few reasons why this happens: Either it’s not getting enough water or it’s receiving too much water. The browning could also be caused by too much salt in the soil (from fertilizers, etc.). To avoid this occasionally flush the soil with lots of distilled water (until it runs out the bottom of the pot). You might also want to use distilled water only to water since tap water usually contains fluoride levels that it doesn’t like. You can remove the brown ends by snipping them off with sharp scissors (Tip: Cut the ends in points so the leaves look more natural).
Did You Know:
- Spider plants are believed to improve indoor air quality.
- It’s also known as “Ribbon Plant” or “Airplane Plant” (because the little plantlets look like airplane propellers) and is part of the lily family.
- They originate from South Africa.