Most houseplant enthusiasts are familiar with the beloved spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum). It is also called Airplane Plant. This includes some of the most popular varieties. All share similar traits, including long arching leaves that are either solid green or variegated in different ways. The variegated types are distinct in their own right. With unique colors and stripe placement, they are easily identified. One such variety is the Zebra plant (Chlorophytum laxium). This one has narrow stripes of silvery cream and wider leaves than the comosum varieties. The plain green spider plant has no stripes or variegation.
Most spider plants will produce ‘babies’. These are tiny replicas of the parent plant that grow out on long arching stems. It is not unusual for one plant to produce thousands of babies in its lifetime. A spider plant that is properly cared for and loved can live for 20 years or more, while plants that are growing in their native area of Africa can live up to 50 years. As far as all those babies, you can cut them off close to the vine or cut the whole vine off at the base. These babies are very easy to root and start more spider plants. Or you can just discard them or give them away.
If you choose not to remove the spider babies they will grow right along with the parent plant. Eventually, they will begin to produce babies of their own. However, it should be noted that if your spider plant is in a hanging basket, it will eventually need to be re-potted into something much larger so that it can continue to grow.
The most common problem among spider plants is the tips turning brown or black. Our human nature assumes that this means it is not receiving enough water. Our human nature is wrong. This is a telltale sign of over-watering. Spider plants need to dry out completely before you water them. Then, you need to soak them thoroughly and let them dry out again.
The environment around your spider plant will determine how often you have to water your spider. If the soil is dry when you purchase your spider water it thoroughly. If the soil is damp wait till it dries out completely then water. When you water, put it in a sink or outside in the shade and water until the water spills out of the bottom of the pot. This prevents salt buildup from the water or fertilizer. When it is finished draining, put it back in the place you usually have it growing. From the first time that you water it, make note of how long it takes to dry out and remember to check it at regular intervals of this amount of time. Of course, you will have to adjust according to the weather and season. Your plant will go through a period of dormancy in the winter. During this time it won’t use as much water. So, it may take longer to dry out. Always check the soil before you water.
Spider plants are perfect for a low-light area. Or if you have a place that gets bright indirect light, it will adjust and be fine there as well. The brighter the light the more pronounced the white stripes will be. However, don’t let that fact tempt you into sitting it right in front of a window. Spider plants are easily burnt. They will survive it but they will not be attractive while recovering. If your leaves get brown spots and the tips and edges turn brown there is too much light. Move it away from the light source to lessen the effects.
A unique member of the spider plant family is the Fire Flash (Chlorophytum amaniense), which has striking stems ranging from peachy to vibrant orange. However, please note that this variety is quite rare, so good luck in finding it. Also, don’t expect any runners to produce babies. Though it is a member of the same family, it looks nothing like the other family members. A family member yes, but it is a much different genus and species. We will get into the difference in all that at a later time.
So, for now, go find yourself a spider plant and have fun with it and all its little ones. Get creative. Add some of the little ones in with your patio pots of flowers for the spring and summer. The variegated leaves will add interest, the arching habit will add texture and depth, and its vines of babies will offer some spillage in the pot. Spider plants are not just for hanging baskets. Challenge your imagination and create a unique statement piece that shows off your flare! If you want all the specific science behind the spider plant CLICK HERE.
and, as always,
Happy House Planting!