By: Scott Eckert, County Extension Agent, Horticulture
One of the most popular and durable houseplants is the unique Spider Plant. The botanical name is Chlorophytum comosum, however it is easier to grow and enjoy than that name sounds.
Spider or Airplane Plants have either one of three leaf color patterns: solid green leaves, green edges with a white variegated stripe down the center of the leaf blade or leaves with white edges and a green stripe down the center.
Basics: This easy to grow plant is more tolerant of extreme conditions than other houseplants, but it still has its climate preferences. Spider Plant thrives in cool to average home temperatures and partially dry to dry soil. Bright indirect light is best. Direct sunlight may cause leaf tip burn. Fertilizer may be applied monthly from March through September. A professional potting media containing sphagnum peat moss and little to no perlite is best.
Spider Plants store food reserves in adapted structures on the plants roots. These “swollen roots can actually push the plant up and out or even break the pot. Avoid over fertilizing to minimize this growth characteristic. Spider Plants are easy to propagate. Simply cut off one
of the “spiders” or plantlets and place in a pot. You may need to pin it down to the surface of the potting media to hold it in place until the roots grow and anchor it. A paper clip bent into an elongated U shape does the trick. Spider Plants are photoperiodic, that is they respond to long
uninterrupted periods of darkness (short day, long nights) by initiating flowering. Production of “spiders” follows flowering. This day length occurs naturally in the fall of each year. However, if you place your plant in a room where you have the lights on each evening, and artificially create a longer day, then they may not flower and you will have fewer spiders.