Spider plants are very easy to grow, hardy and will forgive the occasional forgotten watering.
They love warm temperatures and humid air, but will grow nicely in the conditions of an average home. Spider plants are moderately fast growers and can reach 1 – 2 feet tall and wide.
Their long graceful leaves can grow to 12 – 18 inches long and are either fully green or have charming white and green stripes. Mature plants (5 – 10 years) can also grow small star-shaped flowers on long stems, which – if fertilized – can lead to the growth of a new plant.
As well as its natural charms, the spider plant is also pet-friendly, non-toxic and has a reputation as an air-purifying plant.
Table of Contents
- What Light Is Preferred?
- What Is the Best Way to Water?
- What Should the Temperature and Humidity Be?
- Is Loose Soil Okay?
- Does It Need Fertilizing?
- How Often Do I Need to Repot?
- How to Prune?
- Can Adult Spider Plants Can Bloom?
- Is It Easy to Propagate?
- What Problems Affects Spider Plants?
- What Are Some Types of Spider Plant?
What Light Is Preferred?
The spider plant loves low to indirect light. A spot a few paces away from a bright window or patio door with indirect sun would be ideal.
Spider plants can tolerate heavy shade, but they won’t grow as effectively and quickly without some indirect sunlight. In fact, the more (indirect) light they get, the bolder their stripes.
But be careful – excessive direct sunlight can scorch a spider plant’s leaves.
What Is the Best Way to Water?
Spider plants need regular watering. The key is to wait until the top 50% of the soil is dry. You are aiming to lightly moisten the soil with your regular watering. But don’t let the soil become soggy.
Spider plants are susceptible to root rot, the impact of which is irreversible. Also remember to remove any excess water from the saucer (if you use one).
The signs of over-watering are pretty easy to watch out for. If your plant’s leaf tips are dark brown, this suggests there is too much soil in the moisture.
Equally, if the leaves are becoming dry, crispy or losing their color, this suggests you are under-watering your spider plant. Keep an eye on the top layer of soil – once it has dried out, it’s time for another water. You could also try bottom-up watering if the soil has become bone dry (see helpful instructions on how best to bottom water your spider plant here).
The good news is that spider plants won’t hold a grudge against you for a missed watering session.
The main danger is over-watering as this will eventually kill your plant.
Tip: Spider plants are sensitive to the fluoride and chlorine in tap water (which can cause the leaf tips to turn brown). Avoid this issue by using rainwater or distilled water. You could also try leaving your jug of tap water sitting out for a few hours before using it to water your spider plant (this will reduce the amount of chlorine in the water).
What Should the Temperature and Humidity Be?
Spider plants most enjoy warm and humid conditions. But they are relatively unfussy and will continue to grow in the temperature and humidity conditions of the average home.
Aim for temperatures around 60°f – 80°f (15.5°c – 26.6°c) to keep your spider plant looking and feeling its best. Spider plants do not like frost at all so keep the temperature above 50°f.
In terms of humidity, spider plants will be fine in normal house humidity but increased humidity can really help them to thrive. In particular, if your spider plant’s leaf tips go brown it might be due to low humidity – use regular misting to combat this.
Like many houseplants, spider plants do not appreciate sudden temperature changes so keep your plant away from drafts, heaters and air-con.
Spider plants go semi-dormant in the winter. During these cooler months, there is no need to fertilize your plant. But do keep watering and misting it as spider plants like to be kept slightly moist even in the winter (and homes are often drier in winter due to indoor heating).
Is Loose Soil Okay?
A loose, loamy and well-draining soil is ideal for a spider plant. Loam soil is a balance of sand, silt and clay soil and is great for retaining moisture in the soil. It can also help deter root rot by allowing for the free flow of moisture and helps air to reach the roots.
Aim for a neutral pH level in the soil, but spider plants can tolerate slightly acidic or slightly alkaline pH levels too.
Watch out for high salt levels in the soil as this can turn a spider plant’s leaf tips brown.
Does It Need Fertilizing?
Fertilize your spider plant regularly between the spring and fall seasons to encourage healthy growth. As spider plants only require a moderate amount of feeding, once per month during the growing season will be plenty.
An all-purpose granular or liquid fertilizer will work fine.
How Often Do I Need to Repot?
Repot your spider plant when its roots have outgrown the container – this is usually every 2 – 3 years.
Check the bottom and top of your pot to see if your plant’s root ball is quickly outgrowing its pot home. Spider plant roots tend to grow out above the soil line if the pot is too small.
Spider plants do not enjoy being really root bound, but also don’t need overly large pots. Select a container that is only a third or less larger than the root ball to find the sweet spot.
Make sure to pick a new pot that has drainage holes. When combined with a loose potting mix, the pot’s drainage will be key for ensuring the health of your plant (especially if you are a serial over-waterer).
The best time of year to repot your spider plant is in the spring before the growing season really gets going.
To repot your spider plant, simply remove the plant from its old pot and add it to the new bigger pot at the same depth as before. Top up the new pot with a fresh potting mix.
How to Prune?
Help maintain the attractiveness and health of your spider plant by trimming dead or browning leaves with sharp, clean scissors or small pruning shears.
You can also remove plantlet shoots if the plant starts to look leggy and sparse as this will redirect the plant’s energy.
Can Adult Spider Plants Can Bloom?
Mature spider plants flower regularly.
Spider plants have a pretty small white flower (or sometimes yellow flower, depending on the plant variety). These flowers grow on a long stem and (when pollinated) can produce a leathery fruit containing black seeds.
To encourage your plant to bloom, give it more (indirect) light. Rotating your plant so that it gets even light coverage is a great tip. Selecting the right size pot (a third bigger than the root ball) can also encourage a bloom.
Surprisingly, fertilizing your spider plant more won’t help increase the bloom and can leave your plant scorched.
Encouraging your plant to bloom is a great idea especially if you want lots of plantlets to grow for propagation.
Is It Easy to Propagate?
Spider plants are a great choice for novice gardeners who want to propagate a plant for the first time.
Propagation via a spider plant’s plantlets is the simplest method, but there are alternative options too.
Mature spider plants (5 – 10 years old) produce flowers on long stems which, when the flower falls off, form tiny plantlets. If encouraged, these plantlets will grow their own roots and become independent plants.
- Cut the plantlet off the main plant using sharp and clean pruning shears.
- Place the plantlet in a glass of water (with the cut end in the water).
- After 2 – 4 weeks roots will begin to develop.
- Once a root system has developed, plant the new plant in a loose well-draining soil and water as normal.
It is also possible to divide a large and mature spider plant into two.
- Gently pull apart the root ball of your mature spider plant, keeping as many roots intact as possible.
- Replant the sections in separate pots.
- Provide usual care.
Spider plants can also be grown from seeds, but this is not the simplest method.
Spider plant flowers need to be cross-pollinated to produce fertile seeds. (Store-bought seeds don’t last very long so need to be used as soon as possible).
To pollinate your spider plant’s flowers yourself, follow the method below. (Or leave the plant outside in the summer, let the bees take care of pollination for you and skip straight to instruction number 2.)
- Use a cotton swab to first brush along the inside of one of the spider plant’s flowers, then swab the inside of all the other flowers to pollinate them.
- If pollination was successful, the flowers will dry up and fall off, leaving behind seed pods.
- Let the seed pods dry out on the plant until they go brown and start to split open. You will see that black seeds have formed inside the pod (they look like black pepper seeds).
- Pinch off the seed pods as they start to split open. Put the pods in a paper bag or container and shake them to loosen and then collect the seeds.
- Plant the seeds straight away after collection. Using a loose seed starting soil mix, plant them 1/4 – 1/2 inches deep in a seedling tray. (Plant as many seeds as possible as some will fail.)
- Keep the soil evenly moist using a mister until the seeds have germinated. Using a heat mat or grow light can speed along the process.
- After 2 – 3 weeks you should see small spider plant seedlings emerge from the soil. Give the seedlings some diluted fertilizer to help them grow (work slowly towards full strength fertilizer as they develop).
- Wait until the seedlings have several leaves before planting them – spider plant seedlings are delicate. This will usually take at least one month. Once planted in individual pots, continue with regular spider plant care.
What Problems Affects Spider Plants?
Spider plants are generally quite healthy plants, but there are still some pests and diseases which can affect your plant.
Mealybugs, aphids, whiteflies and spider mites can impact spider plants. Watch out for depreciated foliage.
Rinse the plant with water (the natural solution) or use an insecticide or natural remedy like neem oil for serious infestations.
Root rot is caused by over-watering and a lack of adequate drainage. Its effects are irreversible and can result in the death of your plant.
Prevention is key here. Only water your spider plant when the top 50% of the soil is dry. Select a pot that has drainage holes and opt for a loose, well-draining soil to prevent stagnant watering building up.
As spider plants are fast growers, they can quickly start looking sparse and uneven if they are too cramped in their pot.
If your plant has become too root-bound, simply repot and/or divide it to encourage healthier, fuller growth.
Ignore your natural instinct to over-water or over-fertilize your plant when it starts to look sparse. Over-watering can lead to root rot and over-fertilizing can scorch your plant.
Burned Leaf Tips
A spider plant may develop burned-looking leaf tips due to its sensitivity to chemicals or salts in the water. Rainwater is best for spider plants, but you can also just leave your tap water out for a few hours to reduce the chlorine.
Fading Leaf Color
Fading leaf color is usually caused by thirst.
Water your spider plant when the top 50% of the soil is dry. If you let the soil dry out completely, the leaves may lose their color, droop and even start turning brown.
If the soil is bone dry, give your plant a bottom-up soak. Simply fill your sink, a tub or your bathtub with around 3 – 4 inches of room temperature water. Place your plant in the water without its saucer for a minimum of 45 minutes to give it plenty of time to soak up the water it needs through the pot’s drainage hole. After 45 minutes, check the top 2 inches of soil – if the top soil is still dry, give your plant a light water from the top too to help saturation. When the soil is evenly damp, let your plant rest as you drain the water out of the sink, tub or bathtub. Then return your plant to its usual spot.
You could also try increasing the humidity by misting your plant’s leaves regularly, using a water pebble tray or keeping a humidifier nearby.
Spider plant leaves will sometimes turn brown as a result of too much direct sunlight.
Move your plant to a shadier spot with indirect light.
Also try increasing the humidity by using a mister, water pebble tray or humidifier.
Clean up your plant to help direct its energy to new healthy growth by trimming off any leaves that are completely brown – they won’t turn green again. Use clean scissors or pruning shears and clean your blade with rubbing alcohol in between snips. Don’t remove more than 20% of your plant’s leaves in one go as this could cause shock.
Plant Not Producing Plantlets
A plant that refuses to produce plentiful plantlets can be irritating if you are hoping to propagate it.
A lack of plantlets can be the result of under-watering (so make sure to water your plant when the top soil is dry) or by too much or too little light.
Repotting your spider plant may also encourage plantlet growth if the plant has become too rootbound. Check for roots sticking out of the bottom or top of the pot to know when to repot.
What Are Some Types of Spider Plant?
- Chlorophytum comosum Variegatum: this variety has broader green leaves with cream leaf edges. It produces less plantlets than other varieties.
- Chlorophytum comosum Vittatum: this slower-grower has dark green leaves with a white stripe down the leaf center. The flower stalks are creamer in color.
- Chlorophytum comosum “Bonnie” or “Curly Spider Plant”: this compact variety has loosely curled leaves, which have green margins and a cream center. It can produce small yellow flowers when mature.
- Chlorophytum comosum “Milky Way”: it has a much paler appearance than other varieties, with a wider white stripe down the center of its green leaves.
- Chlorophytum comosum “White Stripe”: this type has a very thin white line down the center of the leaf which disappears as the plant matures. The flower stalks on this variety are more yellow than cream.
Where should I put my spider plant?
Spider plants like indirect light, so a spot near (but not too close to) a light window is ideal.
Spider plants can also grow outdoors (though they are usually happiest in warm climates and certainly don’t like frost).
How often should I water my spider plant?
A. Only water your spider plant when the top 50% of the soil is dry. Spider plants would rather be under-watered than over-watered.
Do spider plants really help clean indoor air?
Yes! Spider plants have shown to help remove indoor pollutants like formaldehyde in the air.
Should I cut the brown tips off my spider plant?
If you notice that your spider plant has brown tips on the edge of its leaves, there’s really nothing you can do about it. Simply trim them off with a pair of clean scissors and they’ll be right as rain!
Have We Missed Anything?
Spider plants are perfect plant companions for even novice gardeners due to their easy-going nature. Anyone who wants to dip their toe into plant propagation should start their experiments with the spider plant.
As cascading plants, spider plants look wonderful in hanging planters or up high on bookcases and shelves. Their striped leaves and charming little flowers are sure to brighten up any space.
Key tips to remember
- Water your spider plant when the top 50% of soil has dried out. If the soil is bone dry, try the bottom up watering method.
- Fertilize your spider plant once per month in spring, summer and early fall.
- Experimenting with spider plant plantlet propagation is not only fun and rewarding, it’s super easy too!
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