- Author: Karen Metz
I've always loved spider plants, Chlorophytum comosum; although I grew up calling them airplane plants. They are such fun and easy houseplants to grow. Spider plants have long narrow green leaves that radiate from a central area. They can be solid green or variegated with a white stripe. The plants throw off long stems which have small white flowers at the tips. With time more leaves appear at the tips and you end up with a plantlet. When the plantlets are plentiful it almost creates a waterfall effect.
These plantlets can be potted up while they are still attached to the mother plant and allowed to then develop roots before separating them. If your plant isn't producing plantlets you might want to check your fertilizer. Overfeeding with a high nitrogen fertilizer can lead to a lush mother plant but no plantlets. Decreasing the frequency of fertilizer treatments and switching to a low nitrogen fertilizer can solve the problem.
Spider plants like bright indirect light if grown as houseplants and partial shade if grown outside. They like regular water, but like the soil to dry out a bit between waterings. A bonus to growing this plant inside is that it is one of the plants that can improve indoor air quality by absorbing several chemicals including carbon monoxide according to MG Susan Mahr from the University of Wisconsin Master Gardener Program.
Spider plants can be grown anywhere as houseplants. The Sunset Western Garden Book says that the plants can grow outside in Zones 15-17 and H1 and H2. Now I live in Fairfield, Zone 14. I have had the variegated spider plants growing on my covered back patio for years. They are actually growing in a wreath form and initially were hanging on the back wall of the house. I became concerned that the dampness of the back of the wreath was damaging the siding so I ended up setting the wreath on top of an urn style pot.
A few years ago, I inherited a spider plant that had been living in Benicia, Zone 15. I didn't know what to do with it, as I already had a green spider plant living indoors and there wasn't any more room for one on the patio. I set it, in the pot it came in, under the crabapple tree in my back yard. I figured it would die as soon as winter hit. It didn't die and has produced numerous plantlets that have rooted. I know the last few winters have been fairly mild. I guess it's also possible that the leafless crabapple tree could give it some protection in the winter.
Whatever the reason I do think that the first hard winter we have, I will lose my little area of spider plant groundcover. But I will just enjoy my unexpected bonus until it does.