Spider Plant Care (Chlorophytum Comosum)

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The spider plant is one of the most popular indoor houseplants…and for good reason!

It’s exceptionally easy to care for and has variegated leaves that add a splash of contrast to your home.

Read on for a complete guide on spider plant care and cultivation…and as always, leave any questions in the comments!​

Spider Plant Overview

Common Name(s) Spider plant, spider ivy, airplane plant, ribbon plant, hen and chickens
Scientific Name Chlorophytum comosum
Family Asparagaceae
Origin South pacific and south africa
Height Up to 12 inches
Light Full sun
Water Medium
Temperature 65-75°F
Humidity Moderate
Soil Any good potting mix
Fertilizer Use fertilizer every two weeks. dilute it by half
Propagation Put small plantlets in a pot of moist potting soil
Pests Aphids, mealybugs, white flies, spider mites

Spider plants have long blade-like leaves that form from the center of the plant and have pointed tips. The leaves or blades can get up to 3 feet long and resemble blades of grass.

While mostly used in containers or hanging baskets, they can be planted directly in the ground. When planting in the garden or flower bed, they need to be sheltered from direct sunlight.

Spider Plant Varieties

Chlorophytum Comosum

Chlorophytum Comosum

The standard spider plant is actually all green, though it is the least commonly seen in stores. However, it can be a much healthier plant overall, because it produces much more chlorophyll than any of the variegated types.

Chlorophytum Comosum 'Variegatum'

Chlorophytum Comosum ‘Variegatum’

The most common type of spider plant is Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’, featuring a white stripe in the middle of each blade. This is most likely the one that you’ve seen sold in garden centers and nurseries.

Chlorophytum Comosum 'Reverse Variegatum'

Chlorophytum Comosum ‘Reverse Variegatum’

Chlorophytum comosum ‘Reverse Variegatum’ is exactly what the name implies — a spider plant with white edges and a green center. This is also a very common type of spider plant sold at nurseries.

Chlorophytum Laxum 'Zebra'

Chlorophytum Laxum ‘Zebra’

This type of spider plant is called Clorophytum laxum ‘Zebra’ and looks similar to ‘Reverse Variegatum’, save for the edge being a bit more yellow than white.

Hawaiian Spider Plant

Hawaiian Spider Plant

Finally, this is called a hawaiian spider plant and is a combination of all of the types mentioned above. It starts out variegated, but eventually the blades turn green as the plant matures.

When it produces babies, they will also start out variegated and turn green. If you can find this one, definitely get it!

Spider Plant Care

Spider plants are one of the easiest to care for houseplants that you can grow. They’re tolerant of a wide variety of growing conditions, especially when it comes to light.

If you’re just starting out with houseplants, give the classic spider plant a look!​

Light

Spider plants will grow in almost any lighting conditions except for bright, direct sunlight. They do best when kept in indirect lighting and even grow well in artificial lighting.

A spider plant that receives at least 12 hours of bright, indirect light per day will produce more spider plant babies. Place them in indirect light somewhere close to a window. Keep the temperature above 60°F and avoid breeze blowing over your spider plant.​

Water

Spider Plant Flower

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Throughout the summer, your spider plant should be watered regularly and soil kept evenly moist. During the winter months, the soil should be allowed to dry out briefly between waterings.

Water the plant weekly on the soil surface and not on the leaves. If you water over the leaves, it will just run off and not soak into the soil. Spider plants also like slightly warm or room temperature water — cold water could damage the roots.​

The plant’s long, tuber-like roots store water, but are also the main problem with watering this plant. The roots quickly take up space in the pot and prevent water from soaking through to the center of the roots.​

To make sure that the plant receives enough water, you can sit the plant in a sink and allow the water to soak into the plant from the bottom up. Then let the plant drain before rehanging it.​

The humidity in most homes is too low during the winter months for a spider plant to thrive. Misting them frequently will help keep them moist, as well as prevent an infestation of spider mites from attacking the plant.​ You can also try bringing it into the bathroom while you are showering for a humidity boost.

Soil

The perfect soil for your spider plant will be well-draining, but also retain moisture. A good high quality potting soil or soil formulated for african violets will perform well.

Fertilizer

Spider plants don’t need a lot of fertilizer. It’s best to only feed them several times a month and dilute the feeding solution to half of the recommended strength. During winter months the feeding times can be reduced to once per month.

Repotting Spider Plants

Spider plants actually do well when they are root-bound in a small pot, but eventually have to be transplanted into a larger pot. For best results, repot them into a pot that is 2″ larger than the current pot. It should have drainage holes and be made of something sturdy — the tuberous roots of the spider plant have been known to burst pots!

The soil moisture can let you know when the plant needs re-potting. If the soil is dry down to 1/2 inch within several days after watering, it’s probably time to re-pot.

Pruning​ Spider Plants

To keep them looking their best, you can trim spider plant leaves in the spring or summer. If you want to keep them under tight control, you should also prune the spiderettes or spider plant babies. Letting the babies grow increases the amount of water and fertilizer you’ll need to keep the plant nice and healthy.

Simply cut off leaves at the base of the plant. To prune spiderettes, just cut the longest stems back to the base.

Spider Plant Propagation

Spider plants are easy to propagate. When they flower in the summer, they produce spider plant babies right from the flowers! The simplest way to propagate the spider plant is thus to cut off the babies and plant them into pots.

They can also be rooted in water if you suspend the plant and just let the roots of the baby sit in the water.

Small pots filled with soil can also be set beside the parent plant and the baby secured into the dirt. Once the baby has rooted itself into the soil, cut it away from the parent.​

The small stalks that pop up can be planted to grow new spider plants. As the baby plants form on these stalks, pin them down against soil in a small pot. You can use a toothpick. The roots will begin to grow, which is the time to cut the babies free.

If you are having troubles getting the babies to live, try a little rooting hormone to encourage root growth. As for soil, use a quick draining soil that is aerated quite well.​

Spider Plant Problems

Spider Plant

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Overall, spider plants are quite a forgiving houseplant — there’s not much that bothers them, pests or otherwise! However, there are still a few issues you can run into when growing these hardy houseplants, so let’s take a look.​

Spider Plants And Your Cat

It is true that some cats adore eating spider plants. Evidently, there is good reason for their popularity among felines. They act as a hallucinogenic in a similar way to catnip. Keep them away from the cats by hanging them high and away from other objects.​

Growing Problems

Occasionally, the tips of the leaves might brown. This is typically due to either too much sunlight or insufficient humidity. It could also be due to chemicals in the water. Try switching to distilled water and this should solve the problem. Cut off the brown tips as they appear and adjust the light, humidity, or water quality.​

Pests

Funnily enough, spider mites are a big problem for the spider plant. They attack when the air is warm and dry. To get rid of them, use an insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Repeat every 3-4 days until they stop attacking your plants. You may need to repeat up to three times for full treatment.

Greenflies are known to chomp on the edges of the leaves. Apply insecticidal soap or pyrethrum, then do it again a couple of weeks later. Clip the leaves off at the soil, that show this damage.​

Mealybugs are a common houseplant pest and they can attack your spider plant. The simplest way to get rid of them is to treat them with rubbing alcohol or a systemic insecticidal spray so that the entire plant becomes a mealybug-killer.

Aphids​ feed on the sap of the spider plant and can quickly destroy a spider plant if left unchecked. They often show up in the crevasses of the plant, so be sure to inspect your plant closely for signs of aphids. To treat an aphid infestation, first aggressively rinse your plant with water. Then, treat the plant with cotton swabs of rubbing alcohol to kill the rest of the aphids.

Diseases

The only disease that is a serious problem for spider plants is root rot. Fortunately this is easy to prevent by simply watering your plant correctly. There are two main causes of root rot:

  1. You are watering too often
  2. Your soil isn’t well-draining enough​

Figure out which of these two is the problem, stop doing it, and you shouldn’t have any root rot issues in the future.

FAQs​ and Tips

Spider Plant Babies

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Q. How large should I let my spider plant babies get before I transplant them into soil?

A. You can plant your babies in soil as soon as they’ve begun to develop roots. Eventually the roots will thicken up and become water storage machines, so you don’t need to worry about root development. Just be sure to transplant into a deep pot.

Q. My cat chewed off almost all the leaves of my spider plant. What should I do?

A. New leaves will grow, they just may take more time as your spider plant is seriously damaged. Cut all damaged leaves to the base of the plant and put it in bright, indirect light for as much of the day as possible.

Q. My spider plant is feeling sticky. What’s happening?

A. If the plants leaves begin to feel sticky it could be a sign that the plant is infested with either scale or aphids. Both of these plant pests secrete a sticky substance.

Q. Is it OK if my spider plant is root-bound?

A. Spider plants like to be root bound and will grow much better if there’s just a little extra room around the roots. Potting a small plant into a large pot can actually kill the plant!

Q. My spider plant has lost its variegation! Is this normal?

A. When a variegated version begins to turn a solid color, it simply requires a bit more sunlight. The variegation will return.​

Q. The leaves of my chlorophytum comosum are soft and transparent…is it going to survive?

Cold will turn the leaves transparent and soft. Assuming the roots have not frozen, you can clip off the damaged leaves and let it regrow.​

Q. Can I use tap water to water my spider plant?

A. Some varieties of spider plants can be very sensitive to the chlorine found in tap water. Sodium can also damage the plant. If you’d prefer you can water your plant with distilled water, filtered water or allow tap water to sit over night before using it.​

Spider plants are quite simple to grow. Follow the few guidelines explained here and you will have cleaner air and a beautiful plant to brighten up your room. Since propagation is so simple, you can turn one plant into an army of spider plants and clean the air for your whole house.

Learn exactly how to care for the spider plant, one of the easiest and most forgiving houseplants to grow.
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35 thoughts on “Spider Plant Care (Chlorophytum Comosum)”

  1. I have recently bought a spider plant , the variegated one, would it be okay on an easy facing windowsill or should I put it in the bathroom , it does get good light but no sunlight.

  2. My leaves are turning brown in the middle of the leaves around the bottom of the plant but the leaves on the top are beautiful what is wrong?

    • While there’s a few possibilities, from your description I suspect your plant’s starting to get root-bound. Most browning of spider plant leaves occurs at the tip and is generally related to watering issues, but when it starts from the center of the leaves, it usually is a sign of problems with the roots.

      It may be time for you to buy a slightly larger pot and repot it. Be sure to untangle the roots gently with your hands to give them more room to grow without becoming entangled, as they need space to swell when the plant takes in water. If there are any limp or rotten roots, trim them off with a clean pair of pruners above the damage, being sure to sterilize your pruners between cuts.

      Also, double-check to make sure you’re not having any problems with spider mites. Those can cause a similar form of damage by weakening the root structure of the plant.

  3. I live in N. California. Summers are very hot but short (usually) winters are also short with snow once or twice a year at most. The rest of the time 70’s to 80’s. 10 yrs ago the house we moved into came with a spider plant on the deck. I didnt water it all winter or spring. In fact there was nothing left to even see. Just dirt.
    Somehow at the end of summer it got watered. Let me tell you to this day it has grown, multiplied and multiplied more. I plant babies in every place there is dirt! Each baby is full grown within a few months and I have huge pots of them everywhere. Everyone is sick of getting them as gifts! lol. I feed them once a year. The only time they need more attention is in the hot summers. Over 80 and they need water every other day. The colors change each year.
    When I replant them I make the crown a little higher than the top of the pot. I put my garden hose under all the leaves and water slowly so as to not get water inside the plant.
    Its very easy and they are outside all year on a covered deck.. Dont be afraid to try this plant.! The babies will keep coming and you will have many beautiful plants! If you get brown leaves as Kevin said just snip them off!

  4. I just put my spider plants outside and now some of the leaves are flimsy and translucent were as others have dull grey tips. What is making this happen?

    • Usually, the culprit is cold weather. If the roots of your spider plant haven’t frozen, you should be able to trim off the damaged leaves and it’ll come back.

      Typically, the perfect temperature range for spider plants is between 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below 60 degrees can cause leaf damage like you’re describing.

  5. After I took off the babies to grow, there is the big hanging stalk the babies were growing in. Do I trying that back also, or let it hang? Thanks!

  6. I keep my spiderette in a bathroom with a skylight. It isn’t cold in there and it’s nice and humid because of the shower, but the tips of the leaves are turning brown very day, even though I’m trimming them. I’ve had this plant for a couple months and it’s getting bigger, but it has very few leaves because they keep turning all the way brown and I have to keep cutting them off. Is there anything I’m doing wrong? I really like this plant and would hate for it to die, so any help or feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    • Hmm…I always recommend checking soil, then soil moisture, then light, then air temperature and draftiness, then pests. I’d do a quick rundown of your spiderettes growing conditions and see if any seem out of line.

  7. I got 4 baby spiderettes from a friend at work. She originally started rooting them in her fish tank (something she read) then potted them in little metal pot containers about 2 months ago. There are 2 babies in each one. I know they are thriving (I water when the top of the soil feels dry and I use a lamp to provide light) however being I can not see the roots I am unsure if it would be wise to re-pot all 4 in one pot. I dont want to kill the babies. Any help would be wonderful.

    • It all depends on what you want them to look like. If you’d rather have more spider plants to decorate your home, I’d go separate pots and spread them out a bit. If you want a spider plant jungle, go for the repot!

  8. I replanted my spider plant into 4 separate pots after separating them at the root. Now one plant has a green bulb like object growing from it. Can you tell me what that is. Not sure if it’s a mushroom or not but the plant is healthy

  9. My spider plant produced babies and i cut them and gave them to friends. I havent gotten any more babies in months….why?

  10. It depends on where you live 🙂 Spider plant’s can take pretty cold weather (for a house plant) but if it freezes in the winter where you are they will die.
    I think Zone 8 is about where you can start to expect them to live over winter.
    If you treat them as annuals you can grow them outside almost anywhere. Just keep the mother plant inside and plant a few of the spiders outside every spring.

  11. I have several airplane plants that I have planted outside around a tree. They are beautiful. Do I need to dig them up and put in pots and bring inside for the winter? This is the first time I have done this and I hate to loose them. If I leave them in the ground and they die back this winter will they come back this spring?

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