Plant Care Guide: Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant)

Plant Care Guide: Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant)

Spider Plant Overview

Welcome to the world of spider plants, where graceful arching leaves and air-purifying qualities make them a beloved addition to any indoor space. Spider plants, scientifically known as Chlorophytum comosum, are popular for their adaptability and low-maintenance requirements, making them an excellent choice for both beginner and experienced plant enthusiasts.


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Chlophytum cosmosum have been kept as houseplants for over 200 years, becoming a very popular choice for plant keepers. Not only are they fast growing, they are easy to care for. Native to South Africa, and introduced to Europe in the late 18th Century by Carl Peter Thunburg, a student of Carl Linnaeus. The spider plant was reclassified several times before being placed in the Chlorophytum genus in 1862. In 1989 it was one of the plants included in NASAs Clean Air study.


How to Care for a Spider Plant

Spider plants are relatively easy to care for, but a little attention goes a long way in ensuring their health and vitality.

  • Light: Spider plants thrive in bright, indirect light. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight, which can scorch their leaves. They can tolerate lower light conditions, but their growth may slow down.

  • Watering: Allow the top two inches of the soil to dry out before watering. Water thoroughly, ensuring water drains from the bottom of the pot. Overwatering can lead to root rot.

  • Humidity: Spider plants appreciate higher humidity, but they can adapt to typical indoor humidity levels. If you notice brown tips on the leaves, it could be a sign that the air is too dry.

  • Temperature: Spider plants prefer average room temperatures 15-24°C. They can handle slightly cooler temperatures at night. Try to not let them get too cold during winter.

  • Fertilization: During the growing season (spring and summer), feed your spider plant with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 2-4 weeks.


How to Re-pot a Spider Plant

Repotting is necessary when the plant becomes root-bound or outgrows its current container. Repot when rootbound. You can also individually plant up the plantlets (babies) separately from the mother plant.

  • Choose a slightly larger pot with drainage holes. 1-2cm larger in diameter is ideal.

  • Gently remove the plant from its current pot, being mindful of the roots.

  • Place a layer of fresh potting mix in the new pot.

  • Position the spider plant and fill in with more potting mix, ensuring the plant sits at the same depth as before.

  • Water thoroughly after repotting.


How to Propagate a Spider Plant

Spider plants are known for their pups, or baby plants, that can be propagated easily.

  • Locate the pups with roots at the base of the parent plant or from a runner (long, thin stems that will produce flowers first)

  • Carefully separate the pup from the parent using clean scissors or your hands.

  • Plant the pup in a small pot with well-draining soil.

  • Keep the soil consistently moist until the pup establishes roots and begins to grow.


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How Often Should You Water a Spider Plant

Watering frequency depends on factors like humidity, temperature, and pot size. Generally, water your spider plant every 1-2 weeks. Stick your finger into the soil; if the top two inches feel dry, it's time to water.


How to Prune a Spider Plant

Pruning is mostly about maintaining the plant's appearance and removing any browning or yellowing leaves. Trim leaves at the base using clean scissors or pruning shears.


Best Soil for a Spider Plant

Use a well-draining potting mix. A mixture of houseplant soil, perlite, and vermiculite works well. You can also add a bit of sand for extra drainage.


Sunlight for Spider Plants

Spider plants prefer bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can scorch their leaves. They can tolerate lower light conditions, but their growth may slow down.


Why Is My Spider Plant Turning Brown

Brown tips can be caused by low humidity, underwatering, or fluoride in tap water. Maintain proper humidity or adjust your watering routine.


How to Stop Spider Plant From Dying

Ensure you're meeting their basic needs: proper light, watering, and humidity. Check for signs of pests or diseases. Adjust your care routine accordingly.


Are Spider Plants Toxic to Pets

Spider plants are considered non-toxic to cats, dogs, and most other pets. However, some pets may be curious and chew on the leaves, which can lead to mild gastrointestinal discomfort. Keep an eye on your pets' interactions with the plant. If they show interest, consider placing the plant out of their reach.


With these tips in mind, you're well-equipped to care for your spider plant and enjoy its beauty and air-purifying benefits for years to come. Happy planting!

Spider Plant Care FAQs

Do spider plants flower?

Yes, spider plants can produce small white flowers on long stalks, typically during the spring and summer. These flowers are followed by baby plantlets, also known as "pups”, that can be easily propagated.

How can I make my spider plant bushier?

To encourage a bushier appearance, periodically prune the spider plant by removing any leggy or discolored leaves. This redirects energy to the healthier parts of the plant, promoting fuller growth.

How long do spider plants live?

With proper care, spider plants can live for several years. Some can even thrive for decades, making them wonderful long-term companions.

Can spider plants live in water? How do I grow spider plants in water?

Yes, spider plants can be grown in water temporarily, but they prefer well-draining soil for long-term health. To grow in water, place a spider plant pup or cutting in a jar with water, ensuring the bottom of the pup is submerged. Once roots develop, you can transfer it to soil for sustained growth.

Do spider plants like direct sunlight? Do they need a lot of light?

Spider plants prefer bright, indirect light. They can tolerate some morning or evening sun, but avoid placing them in direct sunlight as it can scorch their leaves. They adapt well to moderate light conditions.

How big can spider plants get?

Spider plants can reach impressive sizes, with mature plants having a spread of about 2 to 2.5 feet (60-75 cm) in width and length. Their arching leaves contribute to their lush appearance.

Do spider plants like to be root bound?

Spider plants are somewhat tolerant of being root bound, but they will benefit from repotting every 1-2 years to refresh the soil and provide space for growth.

How do spider plants reproduce?

Spider plants reproduce through the growth of "pups" – small plantlets that develop at the ends of long stalks. These pups can be separated from the parent plant and replanted to create new spider plants.

Why is my spider plant drooping?

Drooping spider plant leaves can be due to underwatering, overwatering, or stress caused by extreme temperature fluctuations. Check your watering routine and ensure consistent conditions.

Why is my spider plant pale? Why is it turning yellow?

Pale or yellowing leaves can result from overexposure to direct sunlight, nutrient deficiencies, or improper watering. Adjust light levels, fertilization, and watering to address these issues.

Are spider plants good for the air?

Absolutely! Spider plants are excellent air purifiers, removing pollutants like formaldehyde and xylene from the air. They contribute to a healthier indoor environment.

Do spider plants like humidity?

Spider plants do appreciate higher humidity levels, but they can adapt to average indoor humidity. If you notice browning leaf tips, consider increasing humidity.

Are spider plants easy to care for?

Yes, spider plants are known for their low-maintenance nature. Their adaptability and forgiving nature make them a great choice for beginners and busy plant parents.

Are spider plants good for bathrooms?

Spider plants can thrive in bathrooms with bright, indirect light and occasional humidity. Just ensure the bathroom receives enough light for their growth needs.