The Spider Plant: Easy to Care for House Plants

Spider plants are tolerant of neglect and are the best pick for a house plant that will not add stress to your plant care regime. These easy-care indoor plants are tolerant of an irregular watering schedule and the spider plant will produce an abundance of offspring within its graceful growth habit for a minimum of attention.

Versatile Plants - Indoors and Out
You can place a spider plant in a hanging basket as a house plant or hang one from the branches of a tree, in warm weather, to brighten a shady spot with a fountain of green strappy foliage enlivened with a central strip of creamy white.

The plantlets hang in loose clusters after the small white flowers disappear from the long, wiry stems that hang in interesting shapes from the plants and add texture to a room or sway gently in a breeze under a tree.

Types of Plants
This member of the lily family, a native of coastal South Africa, has been grown as a house plant for hundreds of years and under many names; St. Bernard's Lily, Ribbon Plant, Spider Ivy and others. No matter what name the spider plant goes by, it will always be one of the most popular indoor plants because it is as beautiful as it is forgiving.

The variety of spider plant most commonly seen is Chlorophytum comosum 'Vittatum', with its long, recurving green leaves with a center stripe of creamy white. Other varieties, which include 'Variegatum' (a bit smaller than Vittatum and tends to produce fewer of the spider-like plant-lets) and 'Mandaianum' (with a central stripe of yellow instead of cream), can be found and the same plant care applies to all.

Plant Care
As an indoor plant the spider plant will do best in bright, indirect sunlight but is flexible enough to prosper in moderate natural light or even the fluorescent light of an office environment.

If the plants don't get enough light they will let you know by losing the graceful arch to their leaves and the leaf tips will turn brown. A droopy spider plant can be easily revived with a little R&R in a brighter location.

Indoor plants often suffer from low humidity, especially in winter, but the resilient spider plant is as tolerant of that as it is of infrequent watering. The tuberous, fleshy roots will store water and nutrients to carry the plants through a dry spell.

Because they store nutrients along with water in the roots and rhizomes, the plants do not need to be fertilized more than once, lightly, per season. An excess of fertilizer will cause the leaf tips to brown and reduces the production of baby spider plants.

Propagating the Plants
Reproducing is one of the things that a spider plant does best. Plants that have none of the spider plant-lets can be divided and repotted (eventually you will have to repot anyway, since the roots grow quickly and have been known to break a pot that has become to small).

The easiest method of propagating this indoor plant is to remove the hanging plant-lets and place them in some potting soil to take root. The young spider plants will usually do well but you can improve the odds of success by applying a rooting hormone (readily available where plants and plant care supplies are found) before placing in the soil.

A spider plant will often produce seed as well as plant-lets. Growing a spider plant from seed can be interesting since the plants do not always breed true when started that way.

Plants for Your Health
Tests have shown that a spider plant can effectively clean the air of many contaminants found in modern homes. Carbon monoxide, benzene, formaldehyde and xylene all accumulate in homes from the manufactured products used to construct and decorate them.

These low-maintenance, carefree houseplants have, for centuries, been rewarding a little attention from their growers with their unique beauty and a healthy environment at home or work.