There are three things every spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) enthusiast learns early on:
- Spider plants (airplane plant) require very little maintenance.
- Cats love spider plants.
- Spider plants can grow like a weed and be as unruly as Medusa’s hair.
This latter detail means frequent pruning may be necessary.
- How should you prune a spider plant?
- How do you know how much to prune?
- How often should spider plants be pruned?
How To Prune A Spider Plant
Occasionally, pruning your spider plant is essential to a healthy plant.
Good pruning habits also aid in propagation and keep your plant from growing out of control and a manageable size.
When Should I Prune a Spider Plant?
It’s good to prune your plant whenever it begins getting too big for its surroundings.
However, you’ll also want to prune your plant when it begins developing yellow or brown leaves.
Numerous spiderlings (baby spider plant) are another good sign that your potted plant needs pruning and may also be ready for dividing.
Typically, prune spider plants in the spring or summer.
Tools of the Trade
Due to the small size of spider plant runners, you can choose to use a sharp pair of scissors or stick with pruning shears.
Always sterilize your tools before and after pruning.
In the event of an infestation, you should sterilize after each cut.
The best sterilization method is to dip your tools in rubbing alcohol, then wipe them dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
Avoid using dull tools, as this can damage the plant.
What to Prune
Begin at the base of the spider plant and work your way outwards.
If the plant has brown or yellow leaves, you will want to prune these away and check common causes such as water quality, sunlight, or soil quality.
It may also be a sign that it’s time to transplant or divide your plant.
Always trim at the base of leaves, even if only the tips are damaged, to avoid attracting pests or possible infections.
Once every 1 to 2 years, you should consider pruning the roots to encourage growth.
This involves pruning them back by 1” inch and trimming away the outermost roots.
Avoid cutting the roots too much, and consider dividing the plant instead if you’re worried about harming it.
Moving along the plant, you can prune off any spiderlings.
Clip these at the base of the mother plant.
You can then either discard the baby plants or remove the stem from the baby and propagate the latter.
Pruning and Propagation
In nature, spider plants propagate or reproduce in much the same way as many berry plants.
The plant produces numerous runners (commonly called spiderlings or spider babies).
When the spiderlings come in contact with soil, they take root and become new plants.
When pruning your spider plant, look for spiderlings and clip them off at the end of the shoot.
Grab a pot (with drainage holes) of loose soil and sit the spiderling in the soil.
It will soon take root and turn into a mature spider plant without rooting hormone or other treatments.
You can then keep the new plant or give it away to friends.