Spider Plant Care and Grow Guide

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A spider plant is an excellent houseplant for beginners. Spider plants are perfect for beginners because they are inexpensive and easy to care for. They are also very attractive and add a touch of elegance to any room.

The spider plant actually has very little to do with spiders. It does not attract them more than any other houseplant might or provide a home for spiders, but gets its name due to its long wiry leaves and stems.

Spider plants are easy to care for and require minimal maintenance. They are drought tolerant and thrive in low light conditions. They are also very easy to grow indoors. 

Spider Plant Overview

Originally from South Africa, the spider plant is botanically known as Chlorophytum comosum. Common popular names include airplane plant, ribbon plant, spider ivy, and Bernard’s lily.

The spider plant is an herbaceous perennial that belongs to the Asparagaceae family and is an incredibly popular houseplant. It’s a hardy plant and will prosper in conditions even when they are not ideal. If these plants are well cared for, they are a stunning addition to any home or office.

Their slender, arching leaves can grow up to 1.5 feet in length and will be either all green, or green and white striped. Mature spider plants will grow longish stems with petite flowers that are shaped like stars.

When the blooms die, little plantlets form in their place. These plantlets will grow their own roots. Spider plants can be cultivated at any time of year. However, they must not be exposed to frost.

Spider plants are often cultivated as hanging plants since their leaves will cascade downward as they grow together with their long stems and hanging plantlets. They can also be positioned on shelves, atop furniture, or columns, so that the plants can develop their downward cascade.

If you position it on top of something, take care that the plant leaves hang free and are not crushed underneath the pot. Also, pay attention to the weight of developing stems with plantlets, so that they don’t become so heavy that the stems pull the plant container over or even off the shelf.

Remembering to water your spider plant will be your biggest challenge, together with feeding it during the growing season. In warmer climates, these plants do exceptionally well when grown outdoors with proper care.

There are well over two hundred varieties of spider plants. Some of the most popular varieties include:

  • Chlorophytum comosum “Bonnie” This variety is a compact version and has leaves that loosely curl. The leaf is characterized by a beige stripe down the middle with green margins. The blooms are yellow.
  • Chlorophytum comosum “Variegatum”This spider plant has a green stripe down the middle with cream-colored edges on either side. It has long stems, that are green
  • Chlorophytum comosum “Vittatum” The Vittatum has leaves with a white stripe down the center and green sides that are medium in color. Stems will be long and white.

Spider Plants Clean the Air

Spider plants are known to reduce air pollution indoors. So, the addition of a spider plant to your home or office will bring added benefits.

The NASA Clean Air Study determined that the spider plant is one of several air-purifying plants that are great at removing toxins in the air, particularly xylene and formaldehyde. 

The Spider Plant Care Guide

Soil for the Spider Plant

A spider plant can thrive in various soil types. It prefers a soil bed that contains loose, loamy, and well-draining soil. Drainage is incredibly important.

The pH level should sit ideally between 6.0 and 7.2 pH. They like when the soil pH is relatively neutral, but they will do well in soil that is slightly acidic soil to slightly alkaline. 

Make sure to keep the soil moist for healthy growth. If the soil bed has a high level of salt, the leaf tips may turn brown.

When grown outdoors in a garden bed, they will need at least three feet of room for growth.

Temperature for the Spider Plant

Ideal conditions for a spider plant are warm and humid.

Preferred daytime temperatures should rest between 65° F and 85°F. Temperatures at night should sit between 50°F and 55°F. You will want to prevent temperatures from falling below 50° Fahrenheit.

They need to be protected from cold drafts and especially air conditioning vents as well as heaters. 

Light for the Spider Plant

If you plan to grow your spider plant outdoors, they will prefer bright, indirect light and partial shade. They can support complete shade, but they will not grow as much as when they receive light. The light shouldn’t be direct sunlight as it can scorch leaves.

When cultivating indoors, you still want to give it bright light. Placing it near a window that receives indirect sunlight is the ideal position.

Plants that receive too much direct light may have green leaves that feature yellow stripes. If there is too little light, leaves will droop.

Outdoors, if your area is free from frost, spider plants can be used as a ground cover in an area where the sun is filtered. Or in a spot that is sunny, but protected from the hotter sun of the afternoon.

Water and Humidity for the Spider Plant

Like most indoor plants, spider plants prefer moist soil, but not soggy or waterlogged. It is important not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot and kill the plant.

Spider plants are sensitive to both fluoride and to chlorine that’s common in tap water. Fluoride and chlorine can cause brown leaf tips. If your city has high levels of chlorinated water, it would be better to use collected rainwater or distilled water for indoor plants.

Another option is to leave out a bucket of the tap water overnight to allow the fluoride and chlorine levels to decrease before watering.

During the initial period of growth for a baby spider plant (spiderette), water occasionally.  Once the plant has fully developed, it should be watered moderately. Particularly in the spring and summer seasons, make sure the soil remains moist to stimulate growth. The soil should not dry out completely.

Leaf tips may also turn brown if the humidity is too low. Regular misting will help your plant if you don’t run a humidifier or if you have a particularly dry home or office environment. If you like the idea of having a plant in your bathroom, steamy bathrooms are well-loved by the spider plant thanks to the higher levels of humidity.

Fertilizing the Spider Plant

Moderate fertilization can be good for spider plants. Too much, and leaf tips will turn brown, whereas too little will produce weak growth. Water-soluble fertilizer is ideal, but granular fertilizer can work as well.

These plants should be fertilized during the spring and summer months as much as twice a month.

Pruning and Repotting the Spider Plant

Spider plants can grow as large as three feet in diameter as well as in length. You can prune some leaves at the base of the plant, as it will not hurt or damage your plant.

Pruning in the springtime will help keep the size of your plant manageable and stimulate growth. Also, some pups can be removed. The more spiderettes your plant produces, the more water and fertilizer it will require.

To prune at the base of the plant, use a sharp pair of scissors to remove any diseased or discolored leaves. To remove the pups, cut the long stems all the way back to the base in both the parent plant and the baby plant.

Thinning your spider plant should also be considered. Since spider plants form crowded mounds of leaves, thinning can help to avoid overcrowding and die-out. Thinning will permit the main plant to have room for expansion and stimulate new growth.

Pups will appear when the plant is mature and when it is a bit root-bound. If you constantly thin your plant, it most likely will not produce plantlets.

When you repot, it may also be wise to trim the roots. A good pruning of the roots should be done every year or two before repotting it in new soil.

Spider plants should be planted in pots that are slightly bigger than their root balls and should have enough drainage holes to prevent soggy soil. These plants do better in loose, moist potting soil.

Spring is the best period if you need to repot. Remove your spider pot gently from its container and place it in the new container at approximately the same depth. Fill in the larger container with fresh potting soil. 

Your spider plant will need to be repotted every two or three years. When roots grow through the drainage holes or up through the soil bed to the surface, you’ll know it’s time to repot.

Propagating the Spider Plant

It is easy to propagate your spider plant. Since the plant will grow its own plantlets, simply leave them on their stems until they develop roots. When the roots have developed, you can cut the pup off the stem while leaving the roots intact.

Place them in a new container with loose potting soil and good drainage. The soil must remain moist, but not soggy. The new roots should gradually establish themselves in the soil bed.

An even better way to ensure success is by placing a new pot of soil near the mother plant in such a way that the pups touch the new soil. Ensure that the new soil stays moist. Once the spiderette has rooted into the new pot, you can cut it from the parent plant. Spider pups can also be rooted in water.

Mature plants can be divided. Dig them up gently and pull apart the root ball into two or more sections. The roots should remain intact. Replant the individual sections in individual containers.

Spider Plant Common Plant Pests and Diseases

Generally speaking, spider plants are quite healthy. They are subject to pests that are common to many other houseplants such as aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies.

A typical sign of pests in your spider plant will be foliage that looks depreciated and suffering. You may also note tiny black specks on the undersides of leaves and stems. Stunting, curling of leaves, and plant death may indicate an insect infestation.

If, you prefer not to use a chemical insecticide, you can rinse the plant off with water. If the infestation is serious, a pesticide may be necessary. You can check the organic pest control article for organic options. 

Because spider plants grow very rapidly, it is easy for this plant to become root-bound. One of the biggest indications of an unhappy spider plant will be brown leaf tips. These can be caused for multiple reasons including low humidity, dry soil, or too much salt or chemical buildup. Cut the brown tips off.

Cleaning the leaves of your spider plant is easy. Simply use a soft dampened cloth to wipe away dust, debris, and pests from the leaves, both tops, and bottoms.

Should you cultivate spider plants in your outdoor garden, remember that they will tend to crowd other plants if there is not some type of barrier between them.

Spider Plant Toxicity and Pets

Fortunately, this is one popular houseplant that is non-toxic for both cats and dogs, so if they ingest it, they’ll be okay.

Growing a Spider Plant Final Thoughts

Like the Pothos, a spider plant is relatively easy to care for with low maintenance, making it ideal for first-time plant owners. These spindly plants will add color, greenery, and texture to your home or office decor.

Long, sword-like arching leaves will be particularly attractive when placed in hanging baskets or perched up high enough to allow downward hanging growth.

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If you’re looking for other houseplant guides, here are popular ones: 

Spider Plant Care FAQs

How much sun does a spider plant need?

A spider plant needs bright, indirect sunlight. It’s best not to leave it in direct sunlight as it will lead to scorched leaves.

Is a spider plant indoor or outdoor?

The spider plant is a tropical plant that is a popular indoor plant, but also does well outdoors in warmer climates.

What are the benefits of spider plants?

Spider plants have a number of benefits that go beyond how great they look. They’re easy to take care of and help clean the air in your home. They don’t require a lot of light are good choices for those who live in apartments where space is limited.

How do you take care of a spider plant?

You can take care of spider plants by watering it regularly, and keeping it in an area with lots of indirect, bright light. A spider plant doesn’t like cold temperatures, so make sure to bring it inside during winter months. 

Do spider plants attract spiders?

The spider plant does not attract spiders more than any other houseplants might or provide a home to spiders. The spider plant is known as the “spider plant” because of its long wiry stems and leaves.

My spider plant has small brown bumps on the stem. What does this mean?

If you can scrape them off with a fingernail, they are scale insects.

I am growing my spider plants in my backyard garden. They are getting too big. What can I do to reduce the size?

If the spider plants are growing too big, trim the outer leaves back, so the plant size is smaller. You can also dig them up and divide the root ball into several smaller plants.

My spider plant has sticky stuff on it. What is it and what should I do about it?

The sticky stuff is probably honeydew from when pests suck the sap from your plant. This will ultimately kill the plant. Pests that cause this may be aphids, scale, or mealybugs. The pests must be eradicated and you can try with a strong spray of water. You can also try neem oil or insecticidal soap to remove honeydew and pests.

Should I cut the brown tips off the spider plant?

Yes, trimming the brown tips off the leaves will benefit the spider plant. If you want to give the trim a nice aesthetic look, make two cuts that meet in the middle and mimic the natural shape of the tips of the leaves.

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Written by:

Amy Walsh
I love to grow houseplants and herbs at home! Growing plants has always been a hobby of mine, but it turned into an obsession when I moved out on my own. My apartment is now full of shelves of various plants and stacks of pots waiting for new life. It’s not uncommon to find me checking out the latest indoor plant trends online.