How to care for a spider plant | Chlorophytum comosum

Chlorophytum comosum is commonly known as spider plant, a name which is derived from the appearance of its plantlets, which seem to dangle from the mother plant like spiders from a web. Spider plants are appreciated for their simple care requirements, ability to tolerate relatively low light conditions and easy propagation.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about how to care for a spider plant!

Name(s) (common, scientific) Spider plant, ribbon plant, airplane plant, hen and chicks, spider ivy, Chlorophytum comosum
Difficulty level Easy
Recommended lighting Tolerates low light
Water When slightly dry
Soil type Well-draining

Spider plant natural habitat

Spider plants are naturally found in South Africa. They form part of the undergrowth in a pretty wide range of habitat types, which get varying amounts of rain and are subject to pretty varied temperatures as well.

Its adaptation to different habitat types probably explains why Chlorophytum comosum works so well as a houseplant.

How to care for a spider plant: Light and temperature

Light

Spider plants are known for their ability to grow in lower light conditions but actually prefer bright, indirect light. This means a West- or East-facing window (in the Northern Hemisphere) is probably the best location in your home to place a spider plant.

Be sure to avoid too much direct sunlight as this will quickly damage the leaves. A thin curtain can help prevent the brightest sun from reaching the plant.

Temperature

Spider plants can withstand a relatively wide range of temperatures and should do just fine in the average home. They can even survive very low temps, although they will go dormant below ~50 °F/10 °C. This makes them a good choice for those slightly colder windowsills that most of our tropical houseplants won’t appreciate.

Humidity-wise, spider plants aren’t too demanding and average room humidity should usually be sufficient.

Spider plant houseplant in white cage structure (Chlorophytum comosum)

How to care for a spider plant: planting

As with all spider plant care aspects, planting one isn’t complicated at all. Well-draining, normal potting mix with some extra sand or perlite in a pot with drainage holes should work well.

Keep in mind that the leaves and pups of this plant trail down, which means that a hanging pot might be a good idea if you want to prevent a messy look.

Spider plants respond well to being root-bound so it’s not necessary to immediately repot once the plant grows larger. If you do want to repot, you can do so during Springtime.

How to care for a spider plant: watering

Spider plants prefer relatively moist soil, but to prevent root rot make sure the soil never stays soaked: it’s better to let it dry out slightly between waterings. This means part of good spider plant care is giving plenty of water during Spring and Summer when the plant needs a lot of moisture to keep up with its fast growth. Then, lessen the amount during Winter when growth is much slower.

If your tap water contains fluoride, keep a close eye on your spider plant. They are known for not responding well to it, so if you’re noticing any damage try switching to distilled water or rainwater instead.

Bright green variegated spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) | Full spider plant care guide
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How to care for a spider plant: fertilization

Spider plant fertilization is similar to many other houseplants: fertilizer is appreciated during the growing season but be sure not to overdo it.

A diluted regular fertilizer can be given about every other week or so. Stop fertilizing during Autumn and Winter.

Propagating spider plant

Their easy propagation is part of what makes spider plants so popular. A healthy, mature spider plant will bloom and subsequently produce the typical pups that the name was derived from (also sometimes referred to as ‘spiderettes’).

To propagate your spider plant, simply locate one of these pups, separate it from the main plant and stick it into a separate pot. Water normally. Yes, that’s it! Spider plant care for spiderettes is no different than for the mother plant.

The pup should quickly develop its own root system and continue to grow like a normal spider plant.

Tip: If you’d like to know more about spider plant propagation and how to do it, have a look at the spider plant propagation guide.

Spider plant houseplant on grey desk and light grey background.

Buying spider plant

Spider plants are very popular and you should be able to find them in almost any plant store or garden center. Because so many people own them, you might even be able to find a relative or friend who owns a spider plant and take a pup from theirs to grow your own.

You can also easily order spider plants online.

Are spider plants toxic to cats and dogs?

The ASPCA lists spider plants as non-toxic to both cats and dogs, although the plant is said to work as a hallucinogenic and may upset your pet’s stomach if it eats large amounts.

It’s on the list of cat-safe houseplants because you can relatively safely leave it around your feline friends. In fact, cats really like it: read more over at Why do cats like spider plants so much?

Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), a popular houseplant.

If you have any more questions about how to care for a spider plant or want to share your own experiences with this houseplant classic, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

Cover photo: Grünlilien (Chlorophytum comosum) by blumenbiene


6 thoughts on “How to care for a spider plant | Chlorophytum comosum”

  1. I have two spider plants. Both of them have new growth but some of the long leaves are getting brown and almost all of them are kinking instead of nicely arching over. I have switched to filtered water and have been letting the soil dry some between watering. Not sure what I am doing wrong.

    Reply
    • Hi!

      Is the browning only occurring in the old leaves of the new ones as well? Is the browning starting from the tips (crispy, dry) or does it seem like more of a general browning thing? Additionally, are you sure you’re not letting the soil dry TOO much? Mine starts looking sad and kinking when I leave it without water for too long. Also be sure to check whether the soil is not clumped around the roots.

      When someone asks questions about what’s wrong with a plant it’s quite difficult to answer them without actually seeing it, so my advice usually consists of a series of questions like this. Just try going over all the possible causes and eliminate them one by one, basically.

      Good luck, I hope the plant perks up!

      Reply

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