Spider plant care
A spider plant is very easy to grow and is an excellent hanging basket plant.
The Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum 'Vittatum') is the ideal plant for beginners who have not yet developed their "green thumbs".
Since a spider plant needs no special room temperature and can grow in both light and shade, spider plant care is really quite minimal—thus making it the perfect plant for beginners and children who have exhibited interest in growing plants.
It can survive for several days without water and can grow in varied temperatures, as long as it isn't exposed to freezing conditions. Spider plants need bright natural light but will sunburn if grown in direct sunlight. They also do very well when grown under grow lights, but will be reluctant to produce the plantlets unless you decrease their light hours to simulate the naturally shorter days of fall, when they normally produce their 'babies'. Keep the soil evenly moist, but never soggy. They also prefer to be in a cooler (55-65 degrees F.) room but will tolerate warmer temperatures. Feed the plant every 3 or 4 months with any house plant fertilizer. Note: Over fertilizing will damage the plant, so when you feed it, use 1/2 of the recommended strength.
Spider plants are generally easy to grow, and mature plants are quite beautiful until the tips brown out. Tip burn is usually caused by chemicals in the water. If you are using city water for your plants, undoubtedly, it has been chlorinated and very likely has been treated with fluoride, either of which will cause the burn. Using rainwater or distilled water will take care of this problem.
Propagating Spider Plants
Not only is caring for you plant easy, spider plants are very easy to propagate. The ideal method is to allow the plantlet to root while it is still attached to the mother plant. Set a pot filled with sterile potting soil within reach of one of the plantlets and just stand the offset onto the surface of the soil. If necessary you can pin it in place with a bent paper clip. When the young plant has rooted (in 7-10 days) just sever its ties with the mother. If it is impossible to use this method, look at the base of the plantlets and choose one with a very fleshy set of roots rather than choosing one with good foliage. Sever it from the parent and follow the same procedure. This method will take about a month. The foliage can then be trimmed with a pair of clean sharp scissors if needed.
Spider plants have their main flowering season in summer; however it can bloom at other times of the year. The small white flowers are star-shaped and grow along an arching flower stalk that can reach a height of 40 inches. The plant thrives in bright shady environments; markings on variegated leaves will not be as prominent in excessive shade though. They do not need to be repotted very often, except when the roots start to creep out of the pot. Make sure to water thoroughly when the soil is dry. Do not water excessively in winter.
Potential problems in spider plant care:
- If the leaves develop brown tips, this is usually an indication that the plant is too dry or has been exposed to direct sunlight. Water the plant more and move to a less-sunny location.
- The markings on variegated leaves will become less clear if the plant grows in very shady conditions. Move it to a brighter spot.
- This plant is usually available year round. When shopping at your local nursery or garden store, check that all leaves are unbroken and without brown tips. The lifespan of this plant is almost indefinite when not exposed to frost.
- There are different varieties, Spider plant (chlorophytum comosum) is popular and has total green leaves. The most popular however are the variegated varieties with white or yellow striped leaves.
- Young plants are suitable for green plant arrangements. Older plants make attractive hanging baskets.
This is a fun plant to experiment with and a great one to involve your child in its care. Spider plants are remarkably forgiving when it comes to occasional neglect!