Spider plant or common spider plant, scientifically known as Chlorophytum comosum, is a popular houseplant that has been gracing our homes and offices for centuries. They are renowned for their long, slender leaves that cascade down from their center in a graceful, spider-like fashion.
These attractive houseplants are native to tropical and Southern Africa and were first brought to Europe in the late 19th century. Since then, they have become a common sight in homes worldwide. This popularity is attributed to their ease of care, low maintenance requirements, and ability to thrive in various environments. At the same time, spider plants have earned a reputation for their air-purifying qualities, like the ocean. Whether you’re an experienced plant parent or a novice, the spider plant is a must-have addition to any indoor plant collection.
Spider plants have long, slender leaves reaching 18 inches (45 cm) and are approximately 0.2-1.0 inches wide. The leaves are typically green with white or yellow stripes along the edges. They grow in a rosette-like pattern from the center of the plant, with newer leaves emerging from the center and older leaves cascading down in a spider-like fashion.
The plant grows to about 24 inches (60 cm) tall. However, it can descend many feet as a hanging houseplant.
Note that it also has fleshy roots. Each measure about 2-4 inches long (6.25 millimeters).
Spider plants produce flowers in long, branched inflorescence that can be as long as 30 inches (75 cm). Initially, flowers occur in clusters of between one and six at intervals along the stem, and they are typically greenish-white.
As the flowers mature, they develop into small plantlets, or “spiderettes,” which can be removed and propagated to create new plants.
Overall, the spider plant’s distinctive appearance makes it a popular choice for adding a touch of greenery and visual interest to any indoor space.
Spider plants grow in various habitats, including forests, savannas, and grasslands. In their native habitat, they grow as ground cover. They are adapted to survive in various conditions, from dry to moist environments.
As a houseplant, spider plants can thrive in various indoor environments. They do well in bright, indirect light but tolerate lower light levels. Also, they prefer temperatures between 60-75°F (15-24°C) but can do well in slightly cooler or warmer temperatures.
Spider plants also prefer well-draining soil and do not like being overwatered, which can lead to root rot.
As you know, a spider plant is not like an animal. They do not have a diet in the same way as we do. Instead, they are autotrophic organisms that produce their food through photosynthesis. They use chlorophyll to absorb light energy from the sun. With the help of carbon dioxide from the air and water from the soil, they produce glucose, their energy source.
As a houseplant, spider plants do not require any particular feeding regimen. However, it is essential to ensure they have access to the proper nutrients to support healthy growth.
Spider plants can benefit from occasional fertilization. A balanced, water-soluble fertilizer can be used monthly to provide the necessary nutrients.
A spider plant is easy to propagate from the plantlets that grow from the parent plant’s stems.
To propagate a spider plant, follow these simple steps:
- Locate a spiderette that has a few roots emerging from its base. Cut the stem that connects the spiderette to the parent plant.
- Plant the spiderette in a small pot filled with fertile soil. Make sure the soil is moist but not soggy.
- Keep the pot in a warm, bright location without direct sunlight. Spiderettes prefer temperatures between 60-75°F (15-24°C).
- Water the spiderette regularly.
- After a few weeks, the spiderette should begin to root and produce new growth. At this point, it can be transplanted into a larger pot or garden.
Alternatively, you can divide the parent plant by removing it from its pot, gently separating the root ball into smaller sections, and replanting each part into its pot.
A spider plant is generally hardy and not susceptible to many threats, but it can face a few issues if not correctly cared for. Here are some of the common threats to spider plants:
- Overwatering: Spider plants are susceptible to root rot if they are overwatered. Allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings, and never let the plant sit in standing water.
- Underwatering: Spider plants can also suffer if they are not watered enough. If the plant is drooping or the leaves are turning brown, it may be a sign that it needs more water.
- Pests: Spider plants can be attacked by spider mites and mealybugs. These pests can be treated with insecticidal soap or by wiping the leaves with a damp cloth.
- Low light: While spider plants can tolerate low light levels, they may perform dismally.
- Climate change: Spider plants do not tolerate cold temperatures well and should be kept in a warm, stable environment.
Facts about Spider Plants
- Spider plants are often grown for their air-purifying properties, as they effectively remove pollutants from the air.
- Spider plants are non-toxic to humans and animals and are safe to keep in homes with pets or children.
- Spider plants are named for their long, thin stems resembling spider legs.
- Spider plants have been grown as houseplants since the late 1800s
- Spider plants are easy to care for and can be a good choice for beginners or those with limited experience with houseplants.
How often should I water my spider plant?
A spider plant prefers to be kept evenly moist but not soggy. So, it’s essential to water them properly to keep them healthy. Generally, spider plants should be watered when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Depending on the environment and growing conditions, this may be done once or twice a week.
How much light do spider plants need?
Spider plants are relatively adaptable and can tolerate a range of light conditions. However, they prefer bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can scorch their leaves, so it’s best to place them in a location with filtered light or in a spot that receives morning or evening sun.
Spider plants can also tolerate low light conditions but may not grow as vigorously or produce as many siderites as you want.
Can spider plants be grown outdoors?
Yes, spider plants can be grown outdoors in warm, humid climates. They prefer temperatures between 60-75°F (15-24°C) and thrive in bright, indirect light. In outdoor settings, spider plants are often used as ground cover or in hanging baskets.
When growing spider plants outdoors, it’s essential to plant them in well-draining soil and ensure the soil is kept consistently moist but not soggy. They can grow in partial shade or dappled light.
Are spider plants toxic to pets?
No, spider plants are not dangerous to humans or pets. According to the NASA Clean Air Study, they help to purify the air by removing pollutants such as formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.
However, it’s important to note that they can attract certain pests, such as spider mites and mealybugs. If these pests are left unchecked, they can cause damage to the plant and may require treatment with insecticidal soap or other pest control methods.