Are you a newbie or beginner entering the world of houseplants? Then the spider plant is perfect for you! It is super easy to care for, very forgiving and quite sturdy. So, it’s a great plant to start caring for.
We’ll fill you in on all the characteristics and care requirements, as well as how to grow and revive a spider plant.
The spider plant’s scientific name is chlorophytum comosum, however, it is also commonly known as airplane plant, ribbon plant, and spider ivy. It belongs to the Asparagaceae family, the same family as a dragon tree.
The plant produces baby spiderettes that dangle from the mother plant just like a spider on its web, which is why it’s called a spider plant.
This highly adaptable houseplant is native to South Africa, just like the jade plant, and it can grow in a wide range of conditions. It sprouts a beautiful rosette of long arched leaves that are green or are variegated with white.
Fun Fact: The spider plant is a natural air purifier, so it removes the toxins in the air we breathe.
Spider Plant Varieties
There are many different types of spider plants that you can cultivate. Take a look at some of the most popular variations below.
- Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’: This plant has long green stems with striking leaves that have white margins and a dark green stripe that runs through the middle.
- Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’: This variation’s leaves have a white stripe down the middle with green margins. It also grows a pretty white stem.
- Chlorophytum comosum ‘Bonnie’: This houseplant’s leaves are curly, have green margins and have a creamy white stripe in the center. This variation produces bright, yellow flowers.
- Chlorophytum comosum ‘Green orange’: The deep green leaves have an orange vein and are grown on a vibrant orange stem. If you place them in the sunlight, the stem almost has a glowing appearance.
- Chlorophytum comosum ‘Zebra Grass’: This type of spider plant has a broader leaf with a bright outline.
How Big Do They Get?
In optimal conditions, the chlorophytum comosum can grow up to 1 to 2 feet (30.5 – 61cm) tall and have a spread of around 2 to 4 feet (61 – 122cm).
How Fast Do They Grow?
It typically takes around 5 years or so until it reaches its mature size. On average the spider plant grows 2 to 4 inches (5 – 7.6cm) a year.
How Long Do They Live?
When cared for properly the chlorophytum comosum can survive for 20 years. Some expert gardeners have even managed to grow this houseplant for 50 years.
Are They Toxic to Cats and Dogs?
The spider plant is not poisonous to your cat or dogs. These plants do, however, contain a chemical related to opium. Some studies have found that the spider plant may have a slight hallucinogenic effect when cats ingest its leaves but don’t worry because this is totally harmless.
Spider Plant Care
Spider ivy require proper care in order to flourish and bloom. Although these plants are one of the toughest and most adaptable houseplants out there, you still need to show them some TLC.
We’ll discuss the best way to care for your spider plant below.
How Often to Water
Chlorophytum comosum needs to be well-watered once a week during the warmer spring and summer months, and you can reduce this during the wintertime. Ideally, you should water the plant when about 50% of the soil is dry.
Spider ivy are slightly finicky when it comes to the type of water you use. It’s sensitive to fluoride and chlorine found in tap water. It is best to use distilled water or use tap water that was left in a container overnight.
Do They Need Drainage?
Chlorophytum comosum is susceptible to root rot, so it needs to be grown in well-draining and aerated potting soil.
You can also improve drainage by layering some sharp sand or gravel at the bottom of the pot. It is super important that the container has a drainage hole to allow for any excess water to drip out.
Make sure that you always empty the saucer, so that the houseplant doesn’t sit in soggy conditions.
How to Prune
The spider plant needs to be pruned to maintain its appearance, health, and to promote new growth. You should prune off the leaves during the spring and summertime. Always clean the pruner or pair of scissors with a rubbing alcohol mix to make sure that no diseases are spread from other plants.
If the plant is becoming too large, unkempt or its leaves are damaged, you’ll need to cut them back. You must trim these leaves off at the base of the plant.
If spiderettes are left to grow on the mother plant for too long then it may die as the mother plant isn’t receiving the nutrients it requires. You’ll need to remove these pups by cutting the stem at the base of the mother plant.
Ideally, you should repot the plant every 2 to 3 years or when the plant has become pot bound. Repotting should be done during the springtime when it is actively growing.
If it is pot bound, you’ll see the roots growing out through the container’s drainage hole or even grow up the soil line.
Follow the steps below to repot your spider plant:
- Remove the plant from its current container by gently sliding it out.
- Position the plant in a new container that’s about one size bigger.
- Fill soil around the plant with a fresh potting mixture.
- Care for it as you normally would.
The spider plant flourishes in bright, indirect sunlight. It can tolerate shade but it won’t grow as fast and it may even lose its beautiful stripe.
You’ll need to place it by a windowsill or in an area where it won’t receive direct sunlight. The harsh sun rays will burn and scorch the leaves.
The best type of soil is well-draining, loose, and loamy. It will thrive in soil with a neutral pH level, and it must be nutrient-rich.
The key to a thriving houseplant is that the soil must be kept moist but not saturated. This requires good drainage and aeration.
Avoid using any heavy potting soil as this will retain too much moisture causing damage to the plant’s roots.
Top Tip: Mix together some potting mixture, perlite or pumice, and a handful of compost. This will ensure the soil is aerated, well-draining, and rich in nutrients.
The plant only requires to be fed with some weak fertilizer every 2 to 3 weeks during its active growing seasons. There is no need to feed it during winter as this will only cause a build-up of salts.
The ideal fertilizer is a balanced, water-soluble one like 4-4-4 or 2-4-4. If your plant’s leaf tips start to brown, you should reduce the number of times you feed it and you can dilute your fertilizer.
Pot Size and Type
Plastic or terracotta pots are great for this plant. You’ll just have to water the plant more when it is grown in a terracotta container, whereas, if it is grown in a plastic pot then you may have to reduce the amount of times you water it.
The container must have a set of drainage holes and it needs to be about 2 inches (5cm) larger in diameter than the plant’s rootball.
Chlorophytum comosum thrives in temperatures ranging from 60 to 80°F (15.5 – 26.7°C) during the day. It cannot survive in temperatures below 50°F.
Do They Like Humidity?
The spider plant is native to tropical regions so it loves a humid environment. The ideal level of humidity is around 60%, however, it’ll still grow in levels as low as 40%.
Just like with the Chinese money plant, the spider plant needs to be kept away from any hot or cold drafts.
If you are concerned about your household’s lack of humidity, you can place the plant near a humidifier, group it with other plants, and place it on a humidity tray.
Can They Live Outside?
Spider ivy grows in USDA hardiness zones of 9 through 11, the exact same as the yucca plant.
If you decide to place it on your patio or porch, then you must keep it out of direct sunlight, water it more frequently, and maintain moist potting soil.
Once it’s winter, you’ll need to move your plant back inside as it may die when temperatures are too low.
Do They Flower?
Yes, and you’ll be gifted with these pretty little white flowers during the spring or summer months. The delicate blooms grow about 2 to 4 inches (5 – 7.6cm) long. The flowers grow on long, arching stems and produce 3 to 6 petals each.
The plant blossoms when it is mature and slightly pot-bound. It needs to receive the right amount of sunlight, not too much but not too little.
Once the flower begins to die off and the green pods have turned brown, you can collect the seeds to plant later on.
Fun Fact: Unlike other houseplants blooms, the spider plant’s flowers have no scent at all.
How to Grow
You can grow the chlorophytum comosum using many methods such as propagation in soil and water, and you can grow your very own spider plant from a seed.
You’ll need to carry out all of these methods during the springtime.
How to Propagate
No matter which method of propagation you choose, always clean the blades you are going to use. You can propagate a spider plant through division and spiderettes. Check out the guides set out below.
You can multiply spider plants in soil by planting their divisions or offsets.
This method of propagation will require you to split the rootball and plant each division. Follow the steps listed below.
- Loosen the soil by sliding a blunt knife along the edge of the pot, and then slide the plant out. Remove any excess soil by lightly dusting the roots with your hands.
- Take out a new pot with drainage holes, and fill it with at least 3 inches (7.6cm) of potting soil.
- Observe the rootball and snip off any damaged roots. You can then look for natural areas of division and slice your rootball.
- Gently untangle the roots and pull apart the divisions.
- Plant the divisions in their new pots and water each plant deeply until it drips out the drainage holes.
- Position your new collection in some indirect sunshine and care for it as you would a mature houseplant.
Spiderettes are the pups/offsets that the mother plant produces. You should dip the cutting into some rooting hormone if you want it to grow faster.
Here are the steps to propagating spider plant’s babies:
- You can remove the spiderettes by cutting along their base.
- Find a new pot for the pup and fill it up with well-draining, moist soil.
- Use your fingers to make a hole that is wide and deep enough to just cover the pup’s roots.
- Dip the cutting into a rooting hormone and plant it in the potting mix. Make sure that the roots are completely covered.
- Find a sunny area for the pup and water it frequently.
- In about a month or so the roots should have developed. You can give it a little tug and if it resists then it has rooted.
Whenever you are propagating a plant in water, you need to use a clean jar/glass with distilled water. Follow the steps below to propagate the pups in water.
- You must cut right along the base of the spiderette to remove it.
- Take out a clean jar and fill it with enough water to cover the bottom of the spiderette. Make sure that the leaves are not submerged in the water.
- Find a sunny home for the pup and change the water when it is cloudy or looking slightly murky.
- In 2 to 4 weeks, you’ll notice new root growth.
- Once the roots have fully developed you can plant it in soil and care for them like you normally would.
It is fairly easy to grow a spider plant from a seed, we’ll guide you through the process below.
- You’ll need to fill a shallow tray with moist potting soil.
- Evenly scatter the seeds across the potting mixture and plant them about half an inch (1.3cm) deep.
- The seeds will germinate after 2 to 3 weeks.
- Once three leaves have grown, you can repot the seedlings.
How to Revive
The spider plant doesn’t run into many issues as it is very adaptable, however, if you notice any changes then you’ll need to tweak your care routine.
We’ll guide you through the process of reviving your houseplant back to perfect health.
The spider plant must be kept moist but it doesn’t do well when the soil is soggy and saturated. Overwatering can cause severe damage to the roots and leaves. Excessive overwatering will cause the leaves to brown and blacken, and the roots to rot.
You must immediately cut back the damaged leaves or roots and then repot the plant in fresh potting soil. You should wait a few days to a week before you water the plant again.
Brown Leaf Tips
There are a few culprits that may be causing the tips of the leaves to brown. You may be underwatering your plant or using tap water.
If you are underwatering the plant then you need to deeply water it as soon as possible, however, you must still allow the water to drain out. You can also mist its leaves frequently to enhance the humidity levels surrounding the plant.
Tap water will cause salts to build up in the soil. You’ll need to water the plant for 5 minutes in order to flush out the salts. Refrain from using tap water and rather use distilled water.
Why Is It Turning Yellow?
There are three main things causing your plant’s leaves to turn yellow; overwatering, fertilizer burn, or an iron deficiency.
If the potting soil is soggy then repot your houseplant in some fresh dry soil or refrain from watering it until 50% of the soil has dried out.
Overfeeding your houseplant will not encourage it to grow faster but will actually hamper its growth. You’ll need to flush out all the fertilizer salts by placing your plant under a stream of water for 5 minutes.
When your plant is deficient in any nutrients it won’t survive. All you need to do is add some compost to the potting soil.
This houseplant is great for a newbie or someone who has had a little trouble with caring for plants in the past.
It is sturdy and very forgiving, however, keep in mind that it needs filtered sunlight, distilled water, and well-draining soil. You’ll be good to go if you follow the few care requirements. You will even be rewarded with spiderettes to multiply your collection.