One of the most popular houseplants, the spider plant is easy to grow and will add beauty to any indoor or outdoor garden. Here is some care tips to ensure that it grows and thrives well.
Native to South Africa, the spider plant is one of the most commonly grown houseplants world over. Its long leaves add to its elegance, and its fuss-free growth makes it quite popular among gardeners.
These plants have long grassy leaves which taper at the end. The leaves are generally between 8 to 16 inches long, and 0.2 to 0.8 inches wide. All the leaves grow from one single central rosette. The plants grow quickly and spread fast. A single plant will produce branched stolons with small white flowers, and single or multiple plantlets (runners).
They are commonly variegated with a white or cream-colored stripe in the middle, and green (different shades, depending upon the variety) on both sides. As their leaves are long and slender and have a tendency to give an arching look. They look very good in hanging baskets as well as in tall pots.
In the late 1980s, NASA conducted a research on houseplants to identify which ones could serve the purpose of purifying the air for extended stays in orbiting space stations. One of the identified plants was the spider plant.
This research went on to prove that the plant could not only be resourceful to clean the air in the space stations, but also on earth. This plant can clear the environment of toxic gases such as carbon, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, benzene, etc.
Spider plants are easy to propagate. You may either get a new plant from a nursery, or clip a few from an older plant. The best method is to allow the plantlet grown on the tip of the spider leaf to root. Do not severe its attachment from the mother plant until the roots look healthy enough to plant.
Take a pot, fill it with the potting mixture, and very lightly pin the plantlet down into the pot's soil. Moisten it lightly; the plant will take a week to get rooted. Clip off the attachment after another week.
You can also propagate by snipping the plantlet from the attachment and potting it. Another method is to place the plantlet, while attached, in a glass of water for a week for root growth; then, pot as usual. The only important thing is roots should be well-developed before severing it from the mother plant. The older the plant, more plantlets it produces.
The spider plant has very few basic needs.
✦ Soil: It should be light and well-drained. Make a potting mixture of one part soil, one part sand, and one part organic compost, which should be ideal. Still, this plant thrives in any soil type.
✦ Water: This plant does not like excess watering, as its root system is large, tuberous and capable of storing water for long time. The leaves turn yellow and the rosette rot with too much water. Water lightly in summer and spring, you can also spray moisten the soil. During winter, allow the top soil to dry before watering.
✦ Fertilizer: These plants prefer light and water soluble fertilizer. Wherever possible, use organic substances. The active growing seasons are the spring and early summer. Feed the plant with fertilizers every two weeks during this time.
The winter or fall is its dormant period; feed once in two months. Too much fertilizing will droop the plant and make it turn brown.
✦ Light and Temperature: This plant needs a moderate amount of light and temperature. Too little light will hamper its growth, whereas exposure to too much sunlight will scorch the leaves. Move the plant indoors to protect it from frost and chill.
These plants are mostly hardy, but they tend to be susceptible to worms like caterpillars or other diseases like mealybugs scales, thrips, etc. There are many pesticides available that can help you to get rid of most diseases. Cut the infected part off the plant and then spray the plant with pesticides.
A spider plant will not only add to the beauty of your house and garden, but its air-cleaning properties will ensure clean, pure air around you.