Spider Plant - In Depth

The spider plant has been a mainstay of the decorative plant world for hundreds of years, and is enjoyed everywhere across the globe. Its ability to produce thousands of plantlets (babies) throughout its lifetime means it is often shared between people, and it has a persistence rarely seen in tropical horticulture. 

It can survive in a huge variety of light, temperature and humidity settings and will continue to grow and flourish even in the most unlikely of spots. We have noticed them continuing to grow outdoors in Britain (though this is not recommended at all) and have found them neglected for many months and still looking fine. The fact that they can survive on neglect is often taken for granted, which is why you often see them looking unhealthy or faded.

They generally prefer brighter conditions with moderate humidity and moist, well drained compost. But they are largely unfussy, and one of the best plants for dealing with dry air or erratic watering cycles. The only thing that will really bother them long term is darkness or dryness. See the picture guides below for detailed information on the symptoms of these. 

They also have a great way of letting you know if they are unwell. Each individual issue you may be having is easily diagnosable and detailed here:

Pale, yellow or brown leaves with some leaf drop indicate the plant is not getting enough light near the base. It can also possibly indicate the plant is getting too hot. 

No stems, flowers or plantletsindicate that the plant is simply too young. Give it time to mature and if it's healthy, then it should eventually sprout some babies out!

Brown tips to the ends of several leavescould mean a few things. It could be dryness (keep these well watered), underfeeding or bruising. 

Spotting of the leavescan indicate overheating, extremely dry air or underwatering. 

We’re not 100% sure why it’s called a spider plant, but we get the feeling it’s something to do with the arachnid-like leaves that curl and sprout in insectile formations from the central plant. It also could have a lot to do with the way the plantlets are formed, which almost creates a ‘web’ of plants that are all interconnected. 

There are hundreds of types of Spider Plant, but the most popular by far isChlorophytum comosum variegatum,which boasts the instantly recognizable white ‘racing stripes’ on each slightly curled leaf. It’s so insanely popular for its ability to reproduce, which then creates over generations of plant-swapping, a mutation which is even easier to reproduce, and so on. It’s now probably the easiest plant to propagate in the whole world. Simply cut the yellow stalk leading to the plantlet, place the roots of the plantlet in soil, and water. Could not be easier! Alternatively, place the plantlet's roots into a pot of soil while it's still attached to the mother plant. The connecting stem can then be cut later on.

If you wish to grow a single specimen out to its maximum potential, the plantlets will eventually merge with the mother plant and create an enormous climbing beast of a plant. Just be careful it doesn’t take over the whole house, as these plants can double in size in just one year.