How to Repot Spider Plants in 5 Easy Steps
Do you need to repot your spider plants due to plant health, cramped roots, or some other reason? Spider plants are hardy plants and repotting them is fairly straightforward. In this article, gardening expert and houseplant enthusiast Madison Moulton takes you through five simple steps of repotting your Spider Plants.
Spider plants have been a houseplant staple since the 1960s and 70s, appreciated for their overflowing appearance and ease of care. To keep them looking as lush and healthy as the day you bought them, there are a few essential care tasks that can’t be skipped, including repotting.
Spider plants are happy to be slightly confined, making them great for growing in pots. But if they really outgrow the space or if the soil degrades in quality, the plant will eventually stop growing without repotting.
Luckily, the process is simple. Completed in just 5 steps (or 4 if you choose not to divide), your spider plant will quickly bounce back to fill out its new pot and continue growing.
Signs Your Plant Needs Repotting
Spider plants grow relatively quickly to fill out their existing containers. They also like being a little pot-bound as this encourages them to push out more flowers and pups. But if they become so overgrown that the roots circle each other and have no more space to grow, it’s time to consider repotting.
The first sign to look out for is roots growing through the drainage holes. If you’ve hung your spider plant up in a hanging basket, these roots should be easy to see. But, if they’re planted in a regular pot, make sure you check the base of the container every now and then to look for overgrown roots.
Roots growing above the soil line are also a problem. This shows the roots have used up all the available space in the container and are likely wrapped around each other in circles at the bottom of the pot.
Under these conditions, the roots struggle to draw up moisture and nutrients to deliver to the parts of the plant that need it, leading to stunted growth.
Stunted growth in general is another potential sign that your plant needs repotting. Although this can be caused by a number of factors, from lack of light to lack of nutrients, an overgrown plant combined with stunted growth typically indicates a potting problem.
When roots stop growing below the soil, the plant slows growth above the soil too. No matter what caused the issue, this can lead to many health problems in the plant. Plus, stunted growth means a lack of pups, in case you’re interested in propagating.
If your spider plant has been in the same container for a while without a soil refresh, you may notice a decline in quality of the soil. The soil may become compacted and any water will quickly drain through the container without much retention.
After a few years, even if your plant has not outgrown its current pot, it will still need repotting to refresh the soil. This keeps the roots healthy in the years to come and replenishes nutrients that have been absorbed and leeched from the soil over time.
When To Repot
Although repotting is a necessary task for all houseplants, it can be quite a traumatic experience for them.
Spider plant’s roots were not designed to be exposed to the air. That’s why leaving them out of the soil for long periods can lead to shock. While they are resilient plants that bounce back quickly, they also won’t take kindly to having their roots mangled and messed with.
It’s best to repot when the plant is actively growing for the quickest possible recovery. For spider plants, that typically means early spring in most areas.
Repotting at this time also allows the roots to spread quickly into the new spaces in their new container. While you can repot in winter in emergency situations (such as root rot), this leaves a lot of the soil empty for some time, holding onto moisture that the roots cannot absorb.
As a general rule, stick to repotting in the warmer months and avoid disturbing the plant as much as possible in the cooler months.
What You’ll Need
To repot, start by choosing a new container. If you’re keeping the plant as is, you should choose one around one to two sizes up at most. This provides the right balance between giving the plant extra space and giving it so much space that it struggles to grow.
Never choose a pot far larger than the current container as the roots will likely rot from excess moisture and the plant will have limited growth above the soil line.
If you plan on dividing while repotting, the number of containers and their size will depend on the size of the plant itself. You can typically replant one of the divisions in the previous container, using similarly sized pots to plant up the rest.
You’ll also need something to fill the containers with. When grown as houseplants, spider plants need a well-draining and light soil mix to promote airflow and prevent rotting. Search for a houseplant-specific soil mix at your local nursery or online. Or you can combine two parts potting mix with one part perlite and one part coconut coir for the same result.
You may want to lay down some newspaper to make the cleanup of this messy process quicker, but this is completely optional. If you prefer not to get your hands dirty, you can also use some gardening gloves.
How To Repot a Spider Plant
Now that you’re prepared, it’s time for the fun part – repotting your plant.
Step 1: Remove From The Container
Step one is to remove the plant from its current container. This can be easy or difficult, depending on the container and state of your plant.
If the plant appears loose, simply tip the pot on its side and gently pull the plant out from the base. Never pull from the strappy leaves as this can cause damage and won’t give you much leverage if the plant gets stuck.
Overgrown plants may have roots clinging to the drainage holes and the sides of the container at the bottom. Make sure you loosen these first before trying to pull the plant out. Run a knife along the edges of the pot if they are still sticking.
For spider plants in plastic pots, the process is much simpler. Squeezing the sides of the container should loosen the roots, allowing you to slide the plant out easily.
Step 2: Tease The Roots
An overgrown spider plant will have roots circled around each other in the shape of the container it was planted in. These roots need to be loosened to allow them to grow outwards in their new container rather than in circles.
With your fingers, gently pull the roots apart at the base and around the edges to free them. At the same time, remove some of the old soil to make space for fresh, nutrient-dense soil around the roots. It’s best to be gentle to limit the damage to the root system, but don’t worry if you pull a few off – they will grow back.
If any of the roots are too long, or if you want to limit the growth, you can trim the roots back now. Use a sharp and clean pair of shears, never removing more than one-third of the root mass to prevent shock.
Step 3: Divide (Optional)
For those who want to turn one spider plant into many, repotting is the perfect time to divide. This close look at the roots will help you identify various sections that can be split and all you need to do is pull them apart before replanting as you normally would.
Each section should have several leaves and long enough roots to grow on their own. Grabbing each section separately, shake the roots apart to free them. If some of the roots are tangled, you can also trim them with shears to separate the divisions.
If you want the plant to remain full and bushy, this step is completely optional. But over time, it will improve the health of your plants by limiting overcrowding and increasing the space they have to grow. Plus, you get to double your stock at the same time.
Step 4: Plant In New Pot
Take the new pot (or pots) and fill them with soil mix about halfway up, depending on the size of the container. Then, grab the plant at the base and lower it into the container, holding it at the level it was in the previous container. This should be an inch or two below the rim of the pot to stop the soil from spilling out when watering.
Fill in the gaps around the plant with more soil mix, pressing down gently as you go to remove any air pockets. Once the container is full and the plant can stand on its own, press around the top to secure the plant in place. Don’t push too hard as this can compact the soil and limit airflow.
Step 5: Water Thoroughly
The final step in the process is one you will be familiar with – watering. Watering after repotting is essential as it settles the roots after being exposed to the air and encourages them to grow outwards into new areas in the container. Watering also settles any air pockets in the soil, ensuring moisture reaches all the roots that need it.
After watering, allow the excess to drain from the drainage holes in the container before moving your spider plant back where it was previously. And if you’ve divided, you can choose spots for your brand-new plants too.
Repotting is not the first task on everyone’s mind, but it is essential if you want to keep your spider plant alive as long as possible. It’s essential for houseplant health and will keep your plants looking great as well as extending their lifespan. While you’re at it, use the time to divide larger plants, increasing your stock and giving the plants more space to expand.