Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant) is a favorite houseplant. It is practically foolproof for novice gardeners.
These sturdy little houseplants are easy to care for and hard to kill! Yet, they grow zealously, reproducing babies in even the most challenging circumstances.
Chlorophytum Comosum means the “hairy green plant,” is an evergreen perennial native to tropical South Africa and belongs to the Asparagaceae family.
Spider plants produce a rosette of thin, long, solid green leaves, but the spider plant varieties with variegated leaves are more popular.
Spider plants go by many common names, including:
- Variegated Spider Plant
- St. Bernard’s Lily
- Airplane Plant
- Spider Plant
- Ribbon Plant
- Spider Ivy
Chlorophytum Comosum Quick Care Tips
- Botanical Name: Chlorophytum Comosum
- Common Name(s): Spider Plant, Airplane Plant, Ribbon Plant, Variegated Spider Plant, St. Bernard’s Lily, Anthericum, Spider Ivy
- Synonyms: Chlorophytum Comosum Vittatum, Chlorophytum Comosum Bonnie
- Pronunciation: Kloh-roh-FY-tum kom-OH-sum
- Family & Origin: Asparagaceae family, native to tropical South Africa
- Growability: Easy to grow
- Grow Zone: 9-11
- Size: Can grow up to 24″ – 30″ inches wide with runners 2′ to 3′ feet long
- Flowering: Produces small star-shaped white flowers on long stems
- Light: Prefers bright, indirect light but can tolerate low light
- Humidity: Prefers warm, humid conditions
- Temperature: Thrives in temperatures between 65° and 90° degrees Fahrenheit
- Soil: Loose, loamy, well-draining soil
- Water: Water thoroughly when the top inch of soil is dry, but do not overwater
- Fertilizer: Feed with a liquid water-soluble houseplant fertilizer every few weeks during the spring and summer
- Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to spider mites, whiteflies, mealybugs, and aphids, as well as root rot and brown leaf tips if overwatered
- Propagation: Can be propagated by cuttings or by planting the plantlets that grow on the long stems
- Plant Uses: Popular as a houseplant, it can help purify the air and is safe for pets.
- Chlorophytum Comosum Quick Care Tips
- Spider Plant Care Tips
- Where Are The Best Places To Keep Chlorophytum Comosum Plants?
- How To Propagate A Spider Plant Chlorophytum
- What Pests or Diseases Affect Spider Plants?
- Where To Buy Spider Plants
- Is The Spider Plant The Ultimate Beginner's Plant?
- What Are the Best Uses of Spider Plants?
In this article, we share helpful information on growing these simple, cheery houseplants.
Spider Plant Care Tips
How Big Do Spider Plants Grow?
Spider plants grow fast and usually hang for a few feet when growing in a hanging basket.
A mature spider plant can grow between 24″ – 30″ inches wide with runners 2′ to 3′ feet long. The narrow leaves are about 3/8″ – 1″ inch wide, depending on the variety.
The spider plant is highly adaptable and grows in almost every part of the world as a houseplant. It grows outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11 and as an annual in colder zones.
As a houseplant, spiders grow beautifully in hanging baskets, producing plantlets that are easily propagated.
How Long Do Spider Plants Live?
A happy Chlorophytum comosum can live for decades. These sturdy indoor house plants are lovely “test plants” for those looking to learn about houseplant care.
Once you establish the right conditions your spider plant enjoys, you will never lack botanical companionship again.
Do The Spider Plant Chlorophytum Comosum Bloom Flowers?
The spider plant grows flowers in a long inflorescence reaching 30″ inches long. However, star-shaped flowers are usually small and can go unnoticed because they’re short-lived.
Flowers bloom in clusters of one to six along the stem. Each flower cluster is between 3/4″ to 3″ inches in length and becomes smaller towards the end of the inflorescence.
Most of the small white flowers initially die. The ones that survive are greenish-white. Each flower has six boat-shaped tepals, which can be between 1/4″ – 3/8″ inches long. The stamens are about 1/8″ inch long, and the seeds are produced in capsules.
Some plants only flower when they’re young and stop blooming when they are older. Some varieties only start blooming when the plants mature.
What Lighting and Temperatures Does Chlorophytum Grow Best In?
As indoor plants, spiders prefer bright indirect light, growing happily in pots or as hanging plants. They are excellent bedroom and bathroom plants where lighting may be a bit dim.
A sunny window with bright indirect lighting is perfect for these Ribbon plants! Growing as indoor plants, they do nicely under fluorescent lighting or grow lamps.
For more, read this article on Spider Plant Light Requirements
Lighting Affects Appearance, Blooming, and Reproduction
The intensity of lighting will affect the appearance of your spider plant. Generally speaking, more bright indirect light will produce more pronounced variegation in white stripe varieties and dark green leaves in solid types.
Lighting affects the rate of blooming and reproduction. Plants growing in bright light tend to produce more flowers and baby plants than those in lower-light settings.
Spider plants will tolerate low-light conditions but prefer a shady location with bright indirect sunlight when grown outside. If planting or setting your plant outdoors, keep it out of the midday sun.
NOTE: Some suggest you avoid direct sunlight, but spiders do well in full sun once acclimated. Unless acclimated, too much blazing direct sunlight can be detrimental and burn the leaves.
Learn more on:
Spider Plant Temperature and Humidity Requirements
Chlorophytum comosum tolerates a wide variety and range of temperatures. Spider plants prefer warm, humid conditions where the temperature does not fall below 50° degrees Fahrenheit.
The perfect “growing” temperature is between 65° and 90° degrees Fahrenheit during the day and above 55° degrees Fahrenheit at night.
NOTE: A spider kept at a consistent 65° degrees Fahrenheit will live nicely but won’t grow or reproduce much. They can tolerate occasional extreme heat, but consistent temperatures above 90° degrees Fahrenheit are not recommended.
Low humidity conditions can turn the leaf tips brown. Keep the plant away from air conditioning vents and drafts. Misting the plant can help keep it healthy.
Avoid sudden changes in heat and cold. For example, do not place your plant in a location where it receives a chill from a window and a blast of hot, dry air from a heating vent.
Where Are The Best Places To Keep Chlorophytum Comosum Plants?
Some good locations to place your Spider Ivy plant around the house and office include:
- Hang one or several baskets above your shower in your bathroom.
- Set a small plant on the back of your toilet.
- Place a small pot on a corner shelf near a small bathroom window.
- Keep a potted airplane plant under a fluorescent, full spectrum or grow light in a windowless room.
- Keep a potted airplane plant on your office desk under fluorescent and/or natural direct or indirect sunlight.
- Keep plantlets in small pots or roots in cups of water on a sunny kitchen windowsill.
- Shade your bedroom window with an arrangement of hanging airplane plants.
- Fill hanging baskets on your sun porch or patio.
- Plant Chlorophytum comosum plants in large, sheltered outdoor planters.
- Establish sheltered beds outdoors during warm weather.
- Plant in a tall cylinder planter (with drainage holes) for a unique look in a small space.
Your Chlorophytum comosum will be happy almost anywhere you choose to place it. Of course, no plants do well without light altogether, but the rugged spider plant is flexible and accommodating to just about any level of artificial or natural light.
Related: Tips on Spider Plant Care Indoors
Watering and Feeding A Spider Plant
How Often To Water Spider Plants
This tropical plant does not require lots of water. However, they need watering whenever the soil feels dry.
We recommend regular and gentle watering to keep the soil evenly moist for the root system.
Your specific watering schedule will vary depending on the temperature, level of lighting, and growing season.
Spiders will need more water during the warmer months when the plant is actively growing and reproducing. Conversely, the plant needs less water in the cooler months.
Spiders are sensitive to chlorine and fluoride found in most tap water. If possible, water using filtered water or distilled water. If you must use tap water, allow the water to sit overnight before using it to neutralize the chemicals.
Related: Tips On Watering Spider Plants
Do Spider Plants Need Fertilizer?
Spiders do not require lots of fertilizer. However, spider plants respond well to liquid water-soluble houseplant fertilizer applications mixed at half-strength and applied every few weeks during the spring and summer.
NOTE: Always apply liquid fertilizer to moist soil.
Another option is to apply a granular balanced time-release fertilizer in the spring when plants begin to grow and another in 3 months. I’ve found the best results with liquid fertilizer applications.
Look for a fertilizer with no fluoride and very little boron.
NOTE: Brown leaf tips on spider plants are caused by overdoing the strength or fertilizer frequency.
Once spring and summer are over, stop fertilizing through the fall and winter.
Related: Learn more about Spider Plant Fertilizer here.
What Kind Of Soil Do Airplane Chlorophytum Plants Grow Best In?
Unlike some house plants, Spider plants grow in various soil types but thrive in loose, loamy, well-draining soil.
A standard potting mix for African violets works excellent, or create a mix using potting, container, or garden soil mixed with light ingredients such as:
- Pine Bark
- Coco coir
They prefer neutral soil but will grow in a slightly acidic or slightly alkaline potting mix. Limestone and/or dolomite are good additions to help raise the pH level.
Any good, light potting mix and a pot with a drainage hole found at the garden center will do fine.
Related: Check this article on Spider Plant Soil here.
Repotting and Transplanting
Transplanting or repotting spider plant ivy is optional. These indoor plants growing in bright light can become pot-bound. But spiders don’t mind being root-bound at all!
It is best to repot spiders every other year. In this case, choose a larger pot slightly bigger than the root ball.
Related: Tips on Repotting Spider Plants
There is no need to replant or repot your original parent plant. The mother plant can remain perfectly happy in its original pot indefinitely unless it gets like the one below, which is root-bound!
Can Spider Plants Grow In Water?
To a limited extent, spider plants will grow in water or using the system known as hydroculture. This is a method of growing in which an inert type of growing medium (e.g., clay pebbles or LECA – lightweight expanded clay aggregate) is used in the place of soil.
Use this method to develop roots on baby plants (plantlets) and keep the plants growing this way. First, however, plants can be transferred to a regular potting medium.
Spider Plant Grooming and Maintenance
Occasional trimming of the spider plant leaves and spiderettes will keep your plant looking healthy. Pruning spider plants is usually done during the spring or summer to keep the plants in a more manageable size.
Using sharp pruners, prune the brown or yellow leaves at the base. To remove the spiderettes (spider plant babies), cut the stems back to the base.
If the plant is pot-bound and the tuberous roots are protruding through the drainage holes, it’s recommended to repot the plant after pruning.
How To Propagate A Spider Plant Chlorophytum
Propagating Plantlets in Soil
It is pretty easy to grow spider plants from plantlets. You leave the plantlets on the stem until they grow roots, and then plant the roots in a separate pot with a well-draining soil mix and water until the soil is moist.
You can also divide mature plants by digging up the root ball and cutting it into sections. Each section can be planted in a different pot.
Can You Root Spider Plants In Water?
Yes, you can root small plantlets by popping them into a small glass or bowl of filtered or distilled water.
- Place the spider babies in the water as you would flower in a vase.
- The water should cover the roots without contacting the leaves.
- Place the container in a still location with indirect lighting.
- Change the water daily to prevent bacteria and mold growth.
- Once the plantlets develop good roots, transfer them to a pot, hanging basket, or planter.
What Pests or Diseases Affect Spider Plants?
Spider plants generally stay healthy. However, if you notice withered foliage, it might be a pest infestation of whiteflies, spider mites, mealybugs, or aphids.
Wiping the leaves with cool or warm water with a drop of Dawn dish soap can remove these pests. Use Neem oil or insecticidal soap if the infestation is more serious.
Use a cotton swab to remove the scale, immerse it in rubbing alcohol, then clean the leaves.
If your plant isn’t producing enough plantlets, it’s either too young or growing in too large a pot.
Brown leaf tips are a common problem, often caused by exposure to bright light, low humidity, dry soil, overwatering, or chemicals in the water.
In this case, remove the leaves with brown tips, and improve the plant’s growing conditions.
Related: Learn More about Spider Plant Bugs here
Are Spider Plants Poisonous To Cats And Humans?
According to the American Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals (ASPCA), Chlorophytum Comosum is a non-toxic plant to dogs and cats.
In addition, these enthusiastic, easy-to-grow plants are edible. But do you want your dog or cat chewing on your spider?
Related: More on the topic of Spider Plants Poisonous To Cats?
Where To Buy Spider Plants
Because Chlorophytum comosum is so easily self-propagating, you may not have to buy your first plant at the garden centers in your area. But If you do, here are some buying tips.
When choosing airplane plants, look for healthy, robust-looking “spiders” with clean, untorn, undamaged leaves and NO brown tips on the leaves.
Check the leaves for signs of illness and infestation as described above. Stay away from plants that may introduce a disease like root rot or pests to your home and garden.
Is The Spider Plant The Ultimate Beginner’s Plant?
Spider plants may not be the ultimate beginner plant. Some would argue for other “easy to grow” houseplants like the Sansevieria cylindrica (snake plant), ZZ plant, or Cast Iron Aspidistra elatior, but it ranks right up there.
Even if you have never had success with indoor plants, you are bound to do well with Chlorophytum comosum. However, you will likely end up with more than you need!
These sturdy little plants are versatile and can enjoy luxuriant growth in any home, office, or garden setting. Then, if and when you are overrun, share the wealth with your friends and relations. Just think of the money you’ll save on gifts for all occasions!
Spider plants make excellent houseplants for learning about plant care. They are truly forgiving plants.
Most of the time, only total neglect can kill them. However, they do require some attention and make excellent plant teachers!
What Are the Best Uses of Spider Plants?
Spider plants are used outdoors to line garden beds and containers, thanks to their distinctive shape.
Indoors, these plants are a healthy addition in homes and offices where they purify the air. In addition, they are non-toxic plants to humans, cats, or dogs.