How to Propagate Spider Plants Using 3 Different Methods
Thinking of propagating your spider plants for some additional greenery indoors? In this article, gardening expert Madison Moulton shares three simple methods to propagate spider plants in your garden this season!
Spider plants are one of my favorite plants to propagate. Not because I love spider plants most (Monsteras take the top spot), but because they are so incredibly easy to propagate.
As long as you care for your spider plant correctly and place them in the right environment, it will do most of the hard work for you by producing small plantlets on long flowering stems. These plantlets look just like the parent plant, with a similar shape and structure.
All you need to do is root these adorable plantlets (also called spiderettes, babies or pups) in water or soil to grow a brand-new spider plant quickly. Depending on how many spiderettes your plant has, you can propagate far more plants at once than you would be able to propagate from cuttings. If you like the look of the pups on the plant, you can even remove a few and leave the rest for more visual interest.
If your spider plant has no pups, it doesn’t mean you can’t propagate. Spider plants also grow quickly to fill out their containers, making them ideal candidates for dividing. This will give you double the stock almost instantly and can improve the health of older plants simultaneously.
For those that already have more spider plants than they know what to do with, I like to propagate them to give out as gifts. They live a long time and make great presents for friends and family members. No more rushing to the store last minute because you forgot to buy that housewarming gift. Let’s jump in and look at spider plant propagation and how it’s done!
When to Propagate
Spider plants grow the most in warm temperatures during spring and summer. These are the best times to propagate as the roots will grow quickly, allowing you to transplant before temperatures drop.
However, as long as you can replicate the right conditions, you can propagate any time of year. This does require a little more effort – mostly keeping the container of soil or water warm to promote root growth.
Dividing is also best done in spring. If you divide your spider plants with temperatures below 60F in fall or winter, the roots will struggle to establish in their new pots. This can increase the chances of transplant shock that stunts growth and can lead to other growth problems.
Ultimately, if there are pups on your plant, there is no harm in snipping them off and rooting. Just keep them in the right spot, and roots should develop eventually, even if they do pop up slower than usual.
The easiest way to propagate spider plants is from pups. These can either be rooted in water or in soil, depending on which method you prefer. I prefer propagating in water as I like to watch the roots grow, but your pups will develop stronger initial roots if you go the soil route.
If you don’t have any pups or your spider plant is overgrown, dividing is a great option. Combining this process with repotting is best to complete two tasks in one.
The ideal method will depend on the performance of your plant and the kind of maintenance you’re willing to do. You can also try all three to increase your chances of success and maximize your spider plant stock.
Method 1: Rooting in Water
Rooting in water is one of the quickest methods and also requires the fewest materials. Plus, you don’t really have to get your hands or your home dirty mixing soil.
Before you start, you’ll need to grab a glass and a pair of shears. Clean both thoroughly to avoid transferring harmful bacteria to the new or parent plants. Soap and water are suitable, or you can disinfect with a 5% bleach solution if you have recently used your shears to prune diseased plants.
Depending on the shape of your glass, you may also need to grab some clear plastic wrap. This will stop the pup from sinking into the water if the neck of the glass is too large. I prefer this method anyway, as I find that narrow glasses can limit airflow and cause moisture to get trapped around the leaves.
Finally, you’ll need to fill the glass with water. Distilled water or rainwater is preferred as the chemicals in tap water can potentially inhibit root growth. However, for the short time the plant is rooting in water, tap water likely won’t have much of an impact.
Step 1: Remove a Plantlet
The first step in the process is cutting a pup off the plant. It’s better to remove a few at once in case there are any issues with rooting, but the amount you remove will all depend on how many your particular spider plant is producing.
You should only remove pups that are large enough to grow on their own. Smaller pups have a lower chance of rooting as they still need nutrients and moisture from the main plant to survive. The larger the pup, the better for propagation.
Another thing to look out for is small roots emerging from the base of the plantlet. These tiny starter roots are a good sign that the pup is ready to be trimmed off the plant. While initial roots are not required for successful propagation, they help quite a bit.
Remove the plantlet with sharp pruning shears, avoiding damage to the base. As spider plants can produce a few pups on flowering stems, keeping them on the plant is best. If the stem already has a few you can plant to trim off, you can remove the entire stem at the base of the plant.
Step 2: Cover Glass With Plastic Wrap
Set your plantlets aside and gather as many glasses as needed to root them individually. Fill the glasses with water almost to the top and cover the top with a layer of plastic wrap.
Make a small hole in the center with a knife to make space for the plantlet. The plastic wrap should be tight against the glass to stop it from sinking into the water.
Step 3: Root Plantlet in Glass
Next, gather your plantlets and place only the ends through the hole in the plastic wrap. The base where the roots form should be submerged in water.
Make sure the leaves are above the plastic wrap and completely dry. Make sure the base consistently touches the water. If it dries out periodically, root growth will be much slower.
Step 4: Move Glass
Finally, move the glass to a bright area out of the direct sun to avoid scorching the leaves. Choose a warm spot to encourage quick root growth.
Keep an eye on the water level every few days, topping up if it begins to drop below the base of the plant. It’s also best to replace the water completely around once a week to limit bacterial growth.
Roots will develop within a week or two in the right conditions. Once they are an inch or two long, transplant each plantlet into a new container with houseplant potting mix. After they have become established in these containers, you can care for them as you do all your other spider plants.
Method 2: Rooting in Soil
There are two ways to root in the soil. You can either trim the plantlet off and plant it in a new pot or keep it attached to the plant while establishing roots as they spread naturally in the wild.
I prefer the second method as the plantlet can still get any nutrients and moisture it may need to survive initially while it develops roots. In other words, it limits your chances of failure when propagating, as the plantlet will still be able to survive if root growth is slow.
To do this, you’ll need a container slightly smaller than the container the spider plant is currently in. Any materials are fine, as you will need to transplant them into a larger container later on. Make sure you choose a pot with drainage holes to prevent any potential rotting. Shears are not required initially, as you’ll only separate the two plants much later on.
Finally, you’ll need a soil mix to fill the pot with. My standard propagating mix combines equal parts coconut coir and perlite, and I find this works well for spider plant pups.
You can also replace coconut coir with peat moss if you have some around. As long as the mix drains well enough, it should be suitable for propagation.
Step 1: Fill a Container With Propagating Mix
First, start by filling your container with the propagating mix. Fill it to just below the rim of the pot to stop any soil from spilling out when you water.
Also, compact the soil gently as you go to identify any large air pockets that may lower the soil line after watering. Place this container right next to the original spider plant container.
Next, grab a plantlet ready for propagation on the end of a stem and guide it to the center of the new container. Press the base gently into the soil so the bottom of the plantlet is fully in contact with the soil.
You can also make a small hole with your finger before planting the base, as long as the leaves are not buried beneath the soil. If you plant too deeply, the leaves may begin to rot before the plant has the chance to root.
Step 3: Anchor Stem To Soil
The base may seem secure after planting. However, once you water or move the pots around, it can quickly become dislodged. This is even more likely if you’re propagating in a high-traffic area where the pots may get knocked. Any disturbance will impact the speed of root growth and can prevent rooting altogether if you don’t notice it has occurred.
To avoid this issue, you’ll need to pin the stem to the soil to keep the plantlet in contact with the soil. There are a few ways to do this using items around your home, such as paper clips. But my favorite tool to use in this case is hairpins.
They are the perfect shape, hold position well, and are almost invisible once you bury them in the soil. Pin the stem down into the soil as close to the base as possible to stop it from lifting.
Step 4: Water
Finally, to start encouraging root growth down into the soil, you’ll need to water. You can also water before you plant to check the soil drainage levels if you are unsure. As long as the soil is moist and remains moist while roots develop, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Make sure the new pot is in a warm spot just out of the path of direct sun (it’s best to choose this position before you start, as moving once you’ve planted can be tricky). After a couple of weeks, roots should have developed, ready to be trimmed off the plant.
To test for root growth, pull gently on the plantlet. Resistance to movement indicates roots have grown. Trim the stem off with a pair of shears, and you have a brand-new spider plant ready to go.
Once new growth begins to appear, it’s best to transplant to a new pot with a houseplant potting mix, as propagating mediums don’t contain the nutrients required for long-term growth.
Method 3: Dividing
Without plantlets, your only propagation option is dividing. This simple process can be combined with repotting, replanting each section into a new container depending on how large the plant is. For detailed instructions on how to repot and divide, take a look at the tutorial here.
Propagating spider plants is a great gardening activity for beginners looking to expand their collection. Even if spider plants aren’t your favorite, you’re bound to love them once you see how easy they are to propagate.