How to Grow Spider Plant

Botanical Name: Chlorophytum comosum

Spider Plant is an impressive house plant for beginners. It's easy to care for, tolerates average room conditions, and is easy to propagate.

The slender, arching leaves are dark green with a creamy white stripe. Leaves grow from a central crown and can reach up to 1 ft (30 cm) long. Give this plant plenty of light for the best leaf color. Plants grown in low light may lose their variegation.

Spider plants look best in hanging baskets or on tall stands or pedestals to show off their trailing foliage. Their variegated leaves and graceful, fountain-like growing habit add a beautiful contrast and texture when grouped with other house plants.

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When less than a year old, the plant produces small, white flowers on the tips of wiry, upright stems, called runners. The runners are soon weighted down with plantlets giving it a spidery appearance.

These plantlets -- often called "babies" -- are easy to propagate, giving you an ongoing supply of plants. For sure success, choose young, small plantlets for propagating because the larger plantlets are older and will root slowly. (See "Propagation" below for all the how-tos.)

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Repot in spring when the plant has outgrown its pot. If you see roots growing out of the drainage holes, it's time to pot up. For the best growth and flowering, use a pot that's only 1 to 2 inches larger.

No blooms? These plants like to be slightly root-bound and will flower and produce plantlets best when grown in a smallish container. Also, take it easy on the fertilizer -- too much will produce a lot of leaves, but no flowers and plantlets.

Brown leaf tips often seen on this plant are caused by fluoride, often present in tap water. Use distilled water, rainwater, or allow tap water to sit overnight so that the chemicals in the water will dissipate. Snip off brown leaf tips with scissors to keep the plant looking neat.

Buy a Spider Plant

This is one of the best plants for improving air quality indoors. It has one of the top removal rates of formaldehyde from tainted indoor air.

You'll find a couple types available. 'Vittatum' is the most common variety, featuring a central white stripe on its foliage. 'Variegatum' has broader green leaves with white margins.


Spider Plant Care Tips

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Origin: South Pacific and South Africa

Height: Plants grow up to 1 ft (30 cm) tall, with stems trailing to 3 ft (90 cm) in length.

Light: Give your plant bright, indirect light to maintain the variegation on the leaves. Keep plant out of direct sunlight because it can scorch leaves.

Water: Keep soil evenly moist. If your tap water contains fluoride, use distilled or rainwater to prevent brown leaf tips on your plant.

Humidity: Moderate indoor humidity. If the leaves turn brown and crispy, raise the humidity around it.

Temperature: Average room temps 65-75°F/18-24°C suit this tropical plant perfectly. It doesn't like the cold; don't expose it to anything below 50°F/10°C.

Soil: Peat-moss based potting mix, such as African violet mix.

Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks spring through summer with a liquid fertilizer diluted by half.

Propagation: Plantlets. Set a small pot filled with damp potting mix next to the plant. Sink a new plantlet into the soil of the small pot, so that the root buds are barely covered. You may need to use a bent paperclip to hold the plantlet in place. It should root in 2-3 weeks. After that time, sever it from the parent plant.


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