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How to grow and care for spider plant


Whether you are an aspiring plant parent or have seasoned green thumbs, the spider plant makes a great addition to any collection. Here is how to grow and care for this fuss-free plant.

Wispy green threads that wave at you when the breeze blows – the spider plant makes a brilliant statement anywhere. © feelart | 123rf

Formally known as the Chlorophytum Comosum, the spider plant gets its name from its appearance. These plants are made up of a rosette of long, thin and arched foliage that is solid green or variegated with white. 

The spider plant looks good displayed on a tabletop to a mantle, or even when placed as a hanging plant near the entrance of your home. Plus, this evergreen houseplant is also known for its tremendous air-purifying qualities, making it a healthy addition to your humble abode as well.

And here is the best news: spider plant care is fairly easy.

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How to take care of chlorophytum comosum?

Life is stressful enough – so why not get one of the easiest plants to growThe chlorophytum comosum is a good choice for new plant parents, or if you generally don’t like to spend too much time on your plants. 

These plants come in various shapes and sizes. Some of the most common varieties of spider plants in Malaysia are the variegated forms. Namely:

  • The ‘Vittatum’ has green foliage with a single off-white stripe down the centre of each leaf. Its long stems are white.
  • The ‘Variegatum’ is the inverse of ‘Vittatum.’ This variety has leaf margins of cream or off-white shade with a dark green stripe down the middle. Its long stems are green.
  • The  ‘Bonnie‘ variety is more compact than the main species plant. They have loosely curled leaves with green margins and a cream center stripe. It produces yellow flowers.
  • Solid green varieties are also available.

Spider plants can thrive indoors or outside in the garden. These hardy plants are known for their abilities to survive less-than-ideal conditions and grow stunningly when you are able to mimic their native tropical environment.

How much sunlight does my spider plant need?

© vvoennyy | 123rf

When placed outdoors, spider plants are more likely to thrive and to grow in bright, indirect shade. Heavy shade is acceptable, but their growth won’t be as robust. Also, do note that they get sunburned easily – meaning harsh and direct sunlight can scorch the leaves. 

When placing chlorophytum comosum indoors, the best location is next to a bright window so that it gets plenty of indirect sun.

What kind of potting soil best suits a spider plant?

Spider plants are able to grow in a variety of soil types. They do, however, like loose, loamy soil with sharp drainage. Go for a fairly neutral soil pH if possible, but the plants can also tolerate slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil. 

A word of caution: high levels of salts in the soil can cause the leaf tips to turn brown. So, it’s best to not choose this soil for spider plants.

When to water spider plants?

During initial growth, water occasionally. Twice a week is enough. You should always make sure the soil is dry before watering it. Once they fully develop and are mature (within one year), then you can start water them moderately — once a week.

Balanced moisture is the rule of thumb for spider plants – they don’t like to be too dry or too wet. As with any other plants, overwatering can cause root rot and ultimately kill the plant.

These houseplants love slightly moist but not soggy soil and are sensitive to fluoride and chlorine in the water. The latter can result in the browning of its leaf tips. So, if possible, a suggestion is to make use of rainwater or distilled water for the plants.

If you want to learn about the common mistakes you’re making with your houseplant, click here. 

What are spider plant babies?

© terezie | 123rf

Spider plants may produce tiny white flowers on long stems, as well as spider plant babies. These baby and mini spider plants appear as hanging offsets, and are called “pups.” 

Spider plant baby occurs when a mature plant is flourishing in the right conditions – meaning it is getting an adequate amount of light, water, and the right soil as mentioned above. That being said, however, there is no definitive time for getting these pups on the plants. It can take years even in the best conditions and the best advice is patience.

Some of the issues as to why spider plant babies aren’t popping out include:

  • Being planted in a tightly planted container. 
  • Bad drainage – Make sure your pot has good drainage too, or root rot may become a problem.

How to propagate a spider plant baby?

Chlorophytum comosum are extremely easy to propagate. Wait to detach until the spider plant baby is well established on its own – basically, leave them on their stem until they develop roots that are at least an inch or two long. Then, carefully cut them off the stem, keeping the roots intact. Pot them in a container with good drainage, and make sure the soil stays moist. Leave them be to grow and that’s it. 

Spider plants have a steady and fairly quick growth rate. It is best to plan to re-pot a spider plant about every other year. You’ll know it’s time when you see roots peeking and protruding out of the drainage holes, as well as up above the soil line.

Fun fact: mature plants can also be dug up and divided. Gently pull apart the root ball into sections, keeping as many roots intact as possible. Then, replant the sections as you would with the spider plant baby. 

Read more: How to grow and care for aloe vera plants

Why is my spider plant dying?

© Alina Boldina | 123rf

Spider plants are generally a healthy and hardy bunch. But a few common plant pests – such as aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites – can impact them. Depreciated foliage is a common sign of an infestation. A natural and effective way to combat some infestations is simply to rinse the plant with water. An insecticide can be used on more serious infestations.

Also, if you notice the green striping on your Spider plant is losing its colour, it is likely because the plant is very thirsty. Fading leaves may also be droopy and limp. These are some of the earlier signs to look out for in terms of keeping your chlorophytum comosum happy and preventing spider plant death.

Spider plant benefits that will convince you to grow one at home

Not only are spider plants easy to care for, but did you also know that they come with a wealth of health benefits? Let’s take a look at how these wispy plants benefit us:

1. Purifies the air

As with other air-purifying indoor plants like aloe vera and snake plant, spider plants are also effective in removing harmful chemicals like carbon monoxide, xylene, formaldehyde and toluene from the air. A study by NASA also proved that the spider plant is one of the top air-purifying houseplants.

2. Can tolerate any environment

Spider plants can tolerate neglect, which makes them so well-loved by everyone. You can put them in a corner and not water them for weeks and they’ll still survive. Not just that, they are also very adaptable to their environment so you can move them around the house without fuss. But if you want your plant to thrive, we suggest you to put them under bright indirect sunlight.

3. Pet friendly

There are a lot of beautiful plants out there that are, unfortunately, not safe for your furry friends. But the spider plant is not one of them. So feel free to place them around the house. The only danger here is that your cat might damage the leaves by biting them.

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