Spider plants are easy to care for, and the perfect houseplant for beginners. This detailed article will teach you all there is to know about growing spider plants, help you troubleshoot common problems, answer your FAQs, and much more!
But even though they’re easy, it’s still important to understand the basic growing needs so you can keep yours healthy and thriving for years to come.
This detailed guide will show you exactly how to grow spider plants. From hardiness and location, to sunlight, watering, soil, fertilizer, pests and disease, propagation, fixing common problems, and much more!
Here is what you will find in this detailed spider plant care guide:
- Information About Spider Plants
- How To Grow
- Propagation Tips
- Troubleshooting Common Problems
Information About Spider Plants
Chlorophytum comosum, more commonly known as spider plant or airplane plant, is native to southern Africa. But it’s grown as a houseplant throughout the world.
When given the proper care, this fast-growing plant can reach its full size of 12-24 inches within a few years. The long arching stems will eventually develop babies on the ends, which is a distinctive quality of this plant (and the reason it’s sometimes called an “airplane plant”).
As an added benefit, science has shown it to be an air-purifying houseplant. So, be sure to place it in a spot where it will bring you joy, as well as improve your indoor air quality.
Types Of Spider Plants
There are several spider plant varieties to choose from, but they all fall into two broad categories: variegated or solid leaf.
The most common type of variegated spider plant has one white stripe that runs down the center of each leaf. But you can also find ones that have green down the center with white stripes on the outsides of the leaves.
Variegated spider plants tend to be more popular than the plain green ones, since the foliage adds additional visual interest. There are also curly leaf varieties, which make a fun addition to your collection too.
Spider Plant Flowers
With the proper care, spider plants will bloom almost all year round. The small white flowers develop at the ends of long arching stems.
If the flowers are pollinated, they will produce seeds. Otherwise small plantlets (aka: babies, pups, or offshoots) will form once the flower fades.
Although the flowers are not showy, they do add interest to the plant, especially once they start to form babies on the stems.
How to Grow Spider Plants
As previously stated, spider plants are very easy to grow. But it is important to understand a few basic things about them in order to set yourself up for success.
Hardiness Of Spider Plants
Though most commonly grown as houseplant, spider plants are technically evergreen perennials. They’re hardy in growing zones 10 and above, and thrive in temperatures ranging from 60-90F.
They can survive cooler temperatures, but they will start to suffer if it’s consistently below 50F. Spider plants cannot survive temperatures below 30F.
Where To Grow Spider Plants
Since spider plants are tender perennials, most of us need to grow them indoors during the winter months. However, you can also grow them outside during the summer. They make wonderful patio plants, or could be used as fillers in outdoor container arrangements.
If you put your spider plant outside for the summer, be sure to bring it back inside before it gets too cool in the fall. Otherwise, you can just treat it as an annual.
If you live in a warm enough climate, then you can grow spider plants right in your garden. Choose a shady location that has rich, fast draining soil.
Spider Plant Care & Growing Tips
The good news is that, no matter which type you choose to grow, spider plant care is the same for all. So, you can follow these growing instructions for any variety that you have.
Like many indoor houseplants, spider plants prefer indirect sunlight. They will develop dull foliage and unattractive brown spots when given too much sun. So find a window or patio space that provides dappled sunlight.
They are low light houseplants, and grow best with 3-4 hours of indirect sunlight daily. So, if you’re growing multiple indoor plants, this one will not require a coveted spot in the window sill. Woohoo!
However, spider plants do need adequate light in order to bloom and produce offshoots. So, if your plant won’t flower indoors, then be sure to use a grow light, or move it to a brighter location.
Watering & Humidity
Spider plants need consistent moisture, but don’t like to be overwatered. Rather than saturating the soil, water them more often with smaller amounts. A soil moisture gauge will help you give yours the perfect amount of water every time.
They also thrive in high humidity, which is why they love being outside during the summer. So periodic misting, or even investing in a cool-mist humidifier, will help your plant look great indoors all year long.
The type of water you use is important too. Spider plants are susceptible to tip burn (brown leaf tips) as a result of salt and chlorine buildup. To avoid this problem, don’t use city water on them. Instead, consider collecting rainwater, or use distilled water.
Also, never stress your plant by allowing it to dry out frequently. They can recover from short periods of drought just fine. But consistent neglect will cause the leaves to turn brown and die back.
If you do take your spider plant outdoors during the summer, you will need to water it more often. The extra sunlight and wind will evaporate moisture from the leaves and soil, causing them to dry out much faster outside.
The Best Soil
When it comes to choosing the best type of soil for spider plants, you don’t have to worry too much. They don’t need any special mixture in order to grow.
However, they do require good drainage, and will not tolerate wet feet for very long. Therefore, be sure to invest in a high quality potting mix that drains fairly quickly.
Since they are such fast growers, spider plants can become pot-bound very quickly. They can survive being root-bound for a long time.
However, if left in the same pot for too long, their health will begin to decline, and the soil won’t retain any moisture. So many people make repotting a part of their regular spider plant care routine.
It’s best to repot your spider plant once it outgrows the container, and put it into a slightly larger pot. Just be sure to use a pot with drainage holes to prevent overwatering.
Since they aren’t heavy feeders, spider plants don’t need a lot of fertilizer. But, just like any plant, they do benefit from being fed.
However, they are sensitive to chemicals. Synthetic fertilizers can easily burn them, or cause the leaf tips to turn brown. So, I highly recommend using an organic fertilizer for spider plants.
Start fertilizing in early spring to stimulate healthy new summer growth. Then feed them monthly with a liquid fertilizer like compost tea (which you can buy in a concentrate or tea bags). Or add a slow-release granular fertilizer into the soil a couple of times throughout the summer.
Stop fertilizing spider plants in late summer to prepare them for winter dormancy. And don’t feed them at all through the winter months.
Pests & Disease
Fortunately, spider plants are relatively pest-free, and the best defense against any infestation is to maintain healthy plants.
However, mealybugs, whiteflies, mites, or scale can sometimes become a problem when growing spider plants indoors.
Organic neem oil also works great to get rid of bugs on spider plants, and keep them from coming back. You have to be persistent though, it will take more than one treatment to eliminate any type of pest infestation.
Spider plants can also develop bacterial leaf blight, which causes brown spots or streaks. If this happens, remove the infected leaves at the base. Then move your plant to a spot where it gets better air circulation.
As I’ve mentioned a few times above, it’s common for spider plants to get brown leaf tips or margins. So, to keep yours looking its best, you can prune it regularly.
Simply trim off any brown tips or edges using a sharp pair of micro snips. Follow the natural angle of the leaf for best results. You can also pinch or cut dead or yellowing leaves down to the base.
You should also prune out the flower spikes once they turn yellow or brown, cutting them all the way back to the soil level.
Or, if you prefer, you could prune off the long stems at any time. Just keep in mind that you’ll also be cutting off the flowers and babies. But pruning them out is not going to harm the plant in any way.
Propagating Spider Plants
Propagating new spider plants is not only easy, it’s fun, and there are a couple of ways to do it. By far the most common method is to remove the babies, and root them. You can learn how to propagate spider plant babies here.
However, they can also be grown from seed. If the flowers are pollinated, seed pods will form on the stems. Eventually the pods will turn brown and split open, revealing the seeds inside. Learn exactly how to collect and grow spider plant seeds here.
Troubleshooting Common Spider Plant Problems
As far as houseplants go, spider plant care is pretty darn easy. However, there are a few very common problems that you will likely see if you grow them for any amount of time. Here are the most common problems, and their causes…
- Leaves turning brown – Brown spider plant leaves are usually caused by under watering. If the soil dries out too much, the leaves will eventually start to turn brown and die back. This is common for plants that are pot-bound. If that’s the case, then put yours into a bigger pot.
- Brown leaf tips or margins – Spider plants are notorious for brown tips and leaf margins. This is usually caused by chemicals (either synthetic fertilizers, or city water), improper watering (either over or under watering), or lack of humidity.
- Yellow leaves – This one is a lot harder to diagnose, because yellow spider plant leaves can be caused by a lot of different things. Most likely it’s because of a chemical or salt buildup in the soil (from synthetic fertilizer and/or tap water), overwatering, not enough light, a bug infestation, or the plant needs to be repotted.
- Brown spots on the leaves – The most common cause of brown leaf spots on spider plants is too much sun. If your plant gets any direct sunlight at all, then move it to a shadier spot. Otherwise, if you’re sure the lighting is perfect, then it could be bacterial leaf blight. In that case, it needs better air circulation.
- No flowers, babies, or long stems – Spider plants won’t flower (or grow long stems and babies) if they don’t get enough light. Move your plant into spot where it will get bright, indirect sunlight, or use a grow light.
Spider Plant Care FAQs
Below I will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about spider plant care. If you have a question that wasn’t answered here, then ask it in the comments section below.
Do spider plants like full sun?
No, they like low-light, and will suffer if they get too much sun. Direct sunlight can burn their leaves, or cause brown spots to develop. See the “Sunlight Requirements” section above for more details.
Can spider plants survive without sun?
No. Even though they don’t like the full sun, they do need some light in order to grow. Bright, indirect sunlight is the best. If you want to grow them in a room without a window, then you’ll need to get a grow light for them.
Should I cut the babies off my spider plant?
That depends. You don’t need to cut the babies off, as long as they’re healthy and look nice. But if the stem they’re growing on has been damaged, or it’s turning yellow or brown, then you should cut the babies off and root them. They won’t survive long without a healthy green stem.
Do spider plants need to hang?
Nope, you can grow them in any type of pot that you want. Once they start growing their long stems and offshoots, it’s nice to hang them, or place them on top of a pedestal, bookshelf, or table so the stems can cascade down. But it’s certainly not required.
Do spider plant flowers turn into babies?
As long as the flowers haven’t been pollinated, then yes. Otherwise seed pods will form instead of babies.
Spider plants are wonderful houseplants for beginners and experts alike. Once you get the hang of their basic growing needs, you’ll see just how easy it is. And, with the proper spider plant care, you’ll be able to keep yours thriving for many, many years.
If you struggle to keep your houseplants thriving through the long winter months, then my Winter Houseplant Care eBook is just what you need! It has all the details you need in order to keep your indoor plants thriving all year round. Download your copy today!
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Share your spider plant care and growing tips in the comments section below!