- Spider plants are known for their cascading leaves and easygoing care routine.
- Spider plants enjoy a warm, humid environment and bright indirect light – like in a bathroom.
- Propagating a spider plant is simple and can yield several smaller plants.
- Visit Insider’s Home & Kitchen Reference library for more stories.
The spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) may have a name that scares you away, but this popular houseplant is one of the easiest to care for. Their beautifully hanging fronds, star-shaped blooms, pet-friendliness, and low-maintenance needs make it a great choice for any plant lover.
Lindsay Pangborn, a gardening expert at Bloomscape, shares her best tips on how to care for your spider plant and keep it thriving.
Identifying a spider plant
Spider plants are easily identified by their long, flat leaves that grow and hang in a fountain or spider shape. This houseplant is best placed in a hanging basket or on a high sill or shelf that allows its foliage to cascade.
“The straight species of spider plant has green leaves, and there are a few variegated varieties available featuring green and white or green and yellow striped leaves,” says Pangborn.
As for other spider plant species commonly found at grocery stores and nurseries – there is the Bonnie spider plant, with leaves that curl and twist inwards, and the zebra spider plant, which has its leaf colors inverted and edged in white.
Water weekly. Spider plants prefer to stay slightly moist, but never soggy, making them the perfect plant for a well-lit bathroom. As a good rule of thumb, water your spider plant once a week, but adjust if needed.
“Water your spider plant when the top 50% of the soil volume is dry,” says Pangborn. “Water slowly and evenly until liquid flows through the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot and discard any water that has accumulated in the saucer if you have one.”
Stay consistent. While spider plants tend to survive in less than ideal conditions, root rot via overwatering can be the leading cause of death. Pangborn recommends maintaining a consistent watering schedule and being on the lookout for signs of trouble.
“If you notice browning leaf tips, it can be from letting the plant get too dry between waterings,” says Pangborn. “Sometimes, minerals found in water can cause build-up, so allow the water to sit out overnight before watering or use filtered water if this is the case.”
Soil and fertilizer
Most soils will do. Many plants have specific potting soil requirements, but spider plants can do well in just about any type of soil mix. Pangborn suggests a general-purpose houseplant potting soil, which is better at retaining moisture than a well-draining succulent mix.
Fertilize during the growing season. As for fertilizer, your spider plant will require a monthly, water-soluble fertilizer during its growing season, which is spring through fall. Follow the label instructions and adjust the frequency depending on the growth and health of your spider plant. If your spider plant is lush and is throwing out plenty of offspring, you may want to limit your fertilizer frequency. Yellowing and wilting of lower leaves may be a sign of over-fertilizing.
Repot roughly annually. Although spider plants grow rather quickly, they grow better when slightly pot-bound so they only need to be repotted once or twice a year. If you are unsure of when to repot your plant, Pangborn offers simple instructions: “If you notice your plant needs to be watered more frequently or if it seems like water isn’t being absorbed into the soil, these are signs your spider plant might need to be repotted.”
Light and temperature
Go bright but indirect. Plant novices and experts alike love spider plants because of their tolerance for lower light conditions, although bright indirect light will allow them to flourish.
“The striping on the leaves will be more prominent in bright, indirect light,” says Pangborn.
Warm and humid is best. A warm and humid environment like that of a bathroom is ideal for spider plants, especially in temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid direct sunlight as it will scorch the leaves, leaving dry, brown spots.
Check for common pests. Spider plants are one of the most resilient, low maintenance houseplants, but can be infested with common houseplant pests and diseases such as aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs that can hide in the underside of the leaves or center of the plant.
Prevent root rot. Overwatering can also invite other problems to your spider plant. “Though spider plants appreciate slightly moist soil, soil that’s kept too wet can lead to root rot,” says Pangborn. “This is why allowing the soil volume to dry out about 50% between waterings is essential to your spider plant’s health.”
Keep away from pets – for the plant’s sake. While the spider plant’s pet-friendliness may not be a problem for your pets, it can be a problem for your plant. Your pet’s chewing and pulling can leave it with brown, damaged leaves.
“Spider plants seem to be cat magnets!” says Pangborn. “The best way to deter cat damage is to place your plant in a place your cat can’t get to, like a hanging basket or high on a shelf.”
How to propagate a spider plant
The pup method: A mature spider plant’s propagation can be quite simple if you care for it well enough that it produces “spiderettes” or “pups.”
“These are new plant offshoots from the mother plant that you can trim off and nurture to produce an entirely new plant,” says Pangborn. “To propagate, cut off the small plant from the mother and place the bottom end in a glass of water. You should see roots develop in two to four weeks. Lastly, plant the pup in soil and water regularly.”
Propagation by division: Another method of propagation is division, which is done by separating mature plants into multiple plants with roots intact. For this method, Pangborn instructs to remove your entire spider plant from its pot and remove all the soil. Separate the plant into smaller plants by sectioning them off through the roots. Snip the tips of the roots to encourage growth and repot each plant with fresh soil and water regularly.
If you’re looking for a houseplant known for its adaptability, resilience, unique look, and pet friendliness, the spider plant is your best choice. With a simple watering schedule and enjoyable propagation methods, spider plants can be the only creepy crawlers you invite into your home.