As much as I love plants, I don’t want to spend my free time tending them. Low maintenance… that’s the way I roll and Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) fall right into that category.
Making its way from South Africa, the spider plant has easily established itself in most American homes. ¹There are more than 200 species in the genus Chlorophytum; all are evergreen perennials, but only a couple are regularly cultivated. Spider plants are sometimes sold under the name Chlorophytum capense, but this is a different species, and one that does not produce the little plantlets so characteristic of the real spider plant. The photograph above is ‘Bonnie’ and her foliage is somewhat curly.
Most often you will see Spider plants growing in hanging baskets, creating a lovely look as little plantlets sway about from the mother plants runners. When you get a bunch of babies, remove some and start new plants. Give them away to all your friends and neighbors because it’s like growing squash… you’ll always have enough.
I’ve got a couple different varieties of Spider plants so I always have plenty of babies. I have taken some and placed them beneath my oak trees for use as bedding plants. Even in the Florida heat, they do well on whatever water they get from me watering my surrounding containers. Very seldom have I had to water them in particular. Note that they are under trees so they are not out in full sun.
Spider plants are established for hydroculture also. I’m not much into growing plant this way so I don’t have any first-hand knowledge here. The first site I checked out was scary. Stating that drainage is all propaganda and the public is intentionally being duped. Like I said… it was scary and was clearly bad information. I found this one (Houseplant Hydroculture) and it didn’t send up red flags and talks about converting your houseplants to hydroculture.
If you want maximum growth and production of flowers and little plantlets, keep your spider plant in a bright place, avoiding hot, mid-day sun.
Moisture: Watering always varies, depending on where your plant lives. Check him once a week by feeling the soil. Don’t allow the soil to become too dry. If the soil feels slightly moist (not wet) and heading towards the dry side, give him a good drink and make sure he has good drainage. If you let your plant get too dry, don’t freak… he’ll most likely pull through. You can dunk him in a sink or tub of water and let the soil re-hydrate.
There are different ways to start them. Some recommend placing a prepared pot next to the parent plant. Keeping the runner attached to the parent you will bend the runner until the plantlet rests on the soil. Anchor the plantlet to the soil and let it establish itself. I’ve always had luck by cutting the plantlet off the parent and placing the base in some potting soil and letting them go. However you choose to start your plants, while the little guys are getting established, don’t drown them. Give them water when the soil feels like it’s getting towards the dry side.
There really isn’t a set time to re-pot and will depend on how fast your plant grows. Spider plants like to be somewhat pot bound but if starts to look like its crawling out of its container… re-pot it.
If the foliage turns dark green and loses its variegation you probably don’t have enough light. Try moving it to a brighter spot.
If the foliage becomes weak or lanky and it looses it color you might be keeping it in a spot that is too hot and it’s getting too dry.
If you get tips that are turning brown (notice the one in the photograph). I tend to not water enough out of pure laziness. Tipping is usually a sign of either too much or in the case of the above photograph, it got too thirsty between watering.
If your sure of your watering and you have the right amount of light but your plant still just doesn’t look happy, check for pests. Check under the leaves for mites (tiny creatures and hard to spot unless they are already making webs) and check the inside of the plant and the underside of foliage for scale.
If your into easy low maintenance plants, you can’t grow wrong with a Spider plant. If you happen to see one as you make your way into your local supermarket, don’t even think about it. Grab it up, take it home and give it some love.