The Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is an infinitely popular houseplant, and for good reason. Native from South Africa, this easy-care plant is also known by the common names of ribbon plant, airplane plant, and spider ivy. They are non-toxic, highly adaptable, and easy to grow — the perfect combination for even first-time plant owners.
With their gently arching leaves, Spider plants add a graceful texture and greenery to any room. Their lovely green or variegated leaves are long, thin, and can grow from 12 to 18 inches long. Additionally, these indoor plants offer air-purifying qualities, which is a welcome bonus for any indoor space.
Not all Spider plants bloom, but sometimes, under the right conditions, the stems of a mature plant can produce small clusters of white, delicate flowers in either the spring or summer.
Spider Plant Care
This beautiful plant thrives in a range of conditions, making it incredibly easy to care for. With the right care, they can live for a long time, and can regularly be repotted and redivided between family and friends. Small wonder that it's a favorite beginner plant for households everywhere.
Spider plants flourish best in bright indirect light. When growing indoors, position them in a mildly-lit area within your house or apartment. If you want to place the plant near a window or patio door with tons of natural light, we recommend using a sheer curtain to diffuse the sunlight.
Although these native tropical plants are most commonly grown indoors, you can also grow them as an evergreen outdoor plant in zones 9-11. They're perfect for edging garden beds, or in window boxes and raised beds. Again, make sure to to keep them in light shade or partial shade, where they can still receive indirect sunlight.
Avoid direct sunlight which may scorch this graceful plant's green leaves, especially those of the variegated type with white stripes. Steer clear of heavily shaded areas with poor light conditions though — if this plant doesn't receive enough light, it may begin to droop and lose the natural beauty of their arched leaves.
Temperature and Humidity
Spider plants adore humidity, and prefer a warm temperature between 65 and 75 degrees F, which matches the average household temperature. An ideal spot for a Spider plant might be by a semi-sunny window in the bathroom. However, because of their adaptability, these plants can also tolerate temperatures as low as 55 and or as high as 80.
Make sure to protect your plant from cold drafts. They're not a fan of low temperatures, so avoid setting them near air-conditioning vents or doors that lead outside, especially during the winter.
If your Spider plant develops brown leaf tips, that's a sign that it's suffering from low humidity. That can happen when your house, apartment or building is overly heated or air-conditioned. Solutions include misting it daily, placing it on a humidity tray, grouping it with your other plants, or temporarily placing it by a bright window in a steamy bathroom.
This dose of adequate humidity will help to restore life to your plant.
Soil and Water
Use a standard potting soil mix with a fairly neutral pH of 6.0 to 6.5. This will drain well, yet hold onto enough water to keep your plant from drying out too quickly. Make sure to use a pot with proper drainage holes. Insufficient drainage and imbalanced soil moisture can lead to the issues we describe below.
Keep the soil moist, but not overly wet. In fact, overwatering is the most common way one can accidentally kill this graceful plant. Soggy soil and excess water leads to root rot, which keeps your plant from getting the precious oxygen it needs. That's another reason why choosing a well-draining soil is important.
Go easy on the watering schedule. Water the plant when the top 50% of its soil is dry until you reach gently moist soil. Once a week is usually a good rule of thumb, and will help you to avoid root rot.
As a note, Spider plants are sensitive to chlorine and fluoride in tap water, which can cause brown leaf tips. To avoid this issue, simply use rainwater or distilled water.
Careful fertilizing is key to Spider plant care.
In spring and summer, when this fast-growing plant becomes the most active, feed every 2 weeks with a balanced houseplant fertilizer. In autumn, you can scale back feeding to once a month, and in winter, avoid feeding at all. Remember: too much fertilizer can lead to brown leaf tips, but too little fertilizer can stunt the plant's growth.
If you're searching for a gentle organic fertilizer suitable for your Spider plant, we recommend trying the Pro Organic Plant Food Spray, which is all-natural and packed with essential minerals.
We recommend removing any brown or dead leaves if you spot them. Trim any browning tips if they appear as well. No need for a heavy-duty garden pruners either, just a pair of sharp, sterilized scissors is fine. This type of light pruning will help redirect the plant's energy towards nourishing healthy green leaves.
Propagating your healthy Spider plant is a simple and wonderful way to expand your houseplant collection. With enough love and care, your mature plant will begin to produce plantlets (also called spiderettes or pups).
Find a plantlet that's roughly two inches across, with a few small rootlets growing from it. Gently snip the long stem connecting it to the mother plant. Then place the baby plant in either a small well-draining container with fresh potting soil or in a bowl of filtered water. Make sure the roots are facing down in the soil, or submerged underwater.
If growing in water, don't forget to change the water every few days to avoid bacteria buildup, and to transplant the Spider plant sprout to a new pot once it has rooted.
In 2-4 weeks, your plantlet should successfully have developed its own root system. You can then care for it as you would a regular potted Spider plant.
Potting and Repotting
Spider plants grow well in both pots and hanging baskets. Choose containers that are only one size up (roughly 2 inches larger in diameter) than their root balls.
Typically, these plants need repotting every two to three years. A clear sign that it's yearning for more space is when roots begin poking out of the container's drainage holes or above the soil.
The best time to repot is during the spring, when the plant is actively growing. Gently remove the plant from its old container, using your fingers to loosen the soil from its roots. Then place it in a slightly bigger container that's a few inches wider, with proper drainage holes. Lastly, fill it with fresh potting soil.
Spider plants are a naturally beautiful addition to any indoor or outdoor space. If you found this guide helpful, we encourage you to explore our Best Indoor Plants article for even more inspiration.