With their rosette of elegant, thin, arched foliage and rich green hues, spider plants are a popular option for the home. They add vibrancy and colour to almost every room in the household and can even be planted outdoors in certain seasons.
Some species feature leaves that are variegated with white, while others offer a solid green colour. The best thing about the spider plant? It is incredibly easy to grow.
How to grow spider plants
When choosing houseplants for your home, it’s hugely important to consider their lighting needs. Certain species of plants require lots of direct light, while other plants prefer lower levels of indirect light.
Knowing the difference will ensure the plants you choose to thrive in their new home. Of course, that isn’t all that you need to consider if you want your blooms to thrive, as we’ve detailed below:
Planting spider plants
- It’s important to grow spider plants in a soil-based, well-draining potting mix, as they enjoy even moisture – as opposed to being too dry or too wet.
- For best results, place these plants in bright to moderate indirect sunlight. They won’t thrive in direct, hot sunlight, as this can cause their leaves to burn, triggering unsightly brown tips and spots.
- Spider plants are a species that grows relatively quickly, and as such, can easily become pot bound. It is therefore essential to re-pot a spider plant almost every other year.
- Asides from being grown indoors, spider plants can also be grown outdoors during the months of summer as annuals. They’re a popular option for both containers and beds, providing they are kept away from direct sunlight. If you notice the leaves starting to go brown, move your spider plant to an area with more shade at the first opportunity.
Watering spider plants
During the initial stages of growth, water your spider plants infrequently. Even when they are fully grown they should only be watered moderately.
When the months of spring and summer arrive, it’s a good idea to ensure that the soil is moist, as this will encourage growth. If the soil dries out too much, the plants will suffer.
If growing indoors, it’s a must that the plants are placed in a room that boasts an average room temperature. Spider plants enjoy temperatures of between 13°C and 27°C – this is one of the reasons they are such good indoor houseplants.
To ensure they boast optimal health, fertilize your spider plants up to twice a month. This should be done in the spring and summer months, although it is also important not to over fertilize, as this will have a detrimental impact on your plant.
Pests and diseases
Just as with a number of other indoor and outdoor plants, spider plants are susceptible to disease and pests. Prevalent among these is tip burn, which can be caused by low humidity, dry soil, or a build-up of chemicals and salt, which certain tap waters contain.
If you notice brown tips, cut them off immediately, and keep the soil only slightly moist. Try to avoid chlorinated or fluoridated water, as this can affect the health of your plants.
If you notice brown discs in the leaves, simply scrape them off with your fingernails. This should be done every few days.
Other common pests and diseases to attack spider plants include mealybugs and scale. One way to get rid of bugs on houseplants involves pushing a clove of garlic into the plant’s soil. The strong scent deters a number of bugs, helping to preserve your plant.
To eliminate spider mites, a simple misting under the leaves should do the trick. Use a homemade solution comprising a gallon of cool water, one cup of flour, and a quarter a cup of buttermilk. This is a tried and tested organic deterrent.
Fungus gnats in the shape of small flies sometimes appear around houseplants. Although harmless, their larvae can harm young roots. It’s important to allow the soil to dry out a little in between watering to avoid attracting these pests.
If placing houseplants indoors for the first time, they may sprout bugs such as aphids. You can remove these from your houseplants using a solution of equal parts of alcohol and water.
For best results, add a drop of dishwashing detergent and apply it to affected plants with a soft brush. This method also works to eliminate mealybugs and scale.
During the summer months, spider plants often produce delicate white flowers, which sit upon lengthy stems. It is also common to see baby spider plants, also known as offsets or “pups”. These resemble tiny spiders, hence the plant’s name!
These offsets can be removed and replanted to create new plants. For best results, you should let the pups grow to approximately two inches in diameter before detaching them from the mother plant.
Otherwise, leave the pups attached and place them into pots containing soil. These will need to sit next to the mother plant. They can be removed from the mother plant once the pups have rooted themselves in the soil.
The benefits of spider plants
Spider plants are renowned for their air-purifying capabilities, however in order to enjoy these benefits, it’s wise to buy more than the one plant.
Which variety of spider plant to choose?
The most common varieties are the variegated spider plants. Popular species include:
- Vittatum: This particular plant boasts rich green foliage with a single, interesting off-white stripe, which lines the centre of each leaf.
- Variegatum: This is the opposite of ‘Vittatum’, and features an off-white stripe along the edge of each green leaf.
Arrays of solid green varieties are also available; in fact, there is a spider plant to suit all tastes!
Spider plants can also go by the name of “airplane plant”, “spider ivy” and “ribbon plant.”
Many keep spider plants on their work desks in order to lessen the effects of indoor toxins and other harmful pollutants, although their size does need to be carefully managed.
Spider plants originate in southern Africa but have also been naturalized in Western Australia, among other locations.