SPIDER PLANT, also known as Airplane Plant
Liliaceae Chlorophytum comosum
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: This plant is perfect for a hanging basket. It will grow in almost any location; sun, shade, dry or moist. This plant produces plantlets on wiry stems, that can grow up to 5 feet long. The plant will produce more plantlets when it is slightly potbound. The stems produce no plantlets if the plant is too young.
This is a wonderful plant for beginners - only outright neglect will kill it. Very quick grower. Young plants, which can easily be grown from these plantlets, can be used for outdoor summer bedding. Keep it well fed and pot-bound.
HEIGHT: 3 feet
SPREAD: Wiry stems up to 5 feet long, bearing plantlets
BLOOM PERIOD: Throws out long stems that produce, first, small flowers and, then, decorative hanging plantlets. Produce most plantlets when slightly pot-bound.
BLOOM COLOR(S): white
FOLIAGE:(shape, color, texture, fragrance, etc.): grassy green, arching leaves, striped with yellow or white.
The gracefully arching leaves of the familiar spider plant are up to 16 inches long and 1 inch wide.
LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Bright to moderate light from any exposure. Does not need direct sun, and will adapt to an unshaded northern exposure. Does well under artificial light, needing 14 to 16 light hours daily.
Grows in most locations, though its variegation is most pronounced when plant is near a window. Keep away from midday sun.
Ideal is 2 to 3 hours of sun in winter; adapts to the light of a north window. Young plants do well under fluorescent light.
HUMIDITY REQUIREMENTS: 45% to 60%
Spray daily in summer, twice a week in winter if temperature is over 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
AIR TEMPERATURE REQUIREMENTS: Average house is fine; suffers below 55 degrees or if hung in drafts of hot, dry winter heat.
SOIL TYPE AND pH PREFERRED: all purpose potting mix
BEST PROPAGATION METHOD/TIME: Divide fleshy roots in the spring or pot plantlets anytime.
Separating the plantlets. Prepare small pots with drainage layer and soil. Place new pot next to parent plant and bend stem until plantlet rests on soil. Peg stem to soil and firm latter around plantlet. When plantlet grows new leaves, cut parent stem close to plantlet with sharp knife.
GENERAL CARE REQUIREMENTS
Repot whenever the plant is overcrowded; best done in spring. Be sure to leach the soil occasionally to remove salt buildup. Trim brown tips with sharp scissors.
Cleaning; humidity spraying is sufficient. Use no leafshine.
Repotting - Repot about twice a year, though plant does not mind being pot-bound. It is all right to remove some of the fat white tubers, or rhizomes, if they fill surface of pot.
Repot in winter or early spring as needed.
Water liberally during the growing season, sparingly in the winter. Let soil dry slightly between thorough watering and mist frequently.
A large hanging basket may need as much as 1 quart of water twice a week. Some plants wilt when dry, but stress signs - yellowed, dying leaf tips and edges - may not show up for several days or weeks. Every time spider plant dries out severely, about 1/2 inch of the leaf tip will die back.
Novice gardeners often allow the soil to become bone dry between waterings, a practice that contributes to browning of the leaf tips and produces cracks in the center of the leaves.
Water 2-3 times a week in summer, once a week in winter. Withhold water if temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep very moist during growth and flowering.
Feed every other week. with a mild liquid fertilizer.
Fertilize all year, but more heavily in summer.
POSSIBLE PROBLEMS AND THEIR SOLUTIONS
MOST COMMON CULTURAL PROBLEMS: Pale, limp and yellowing leaves result from too much heat or too little light. Brown tips come from salts accumulating in the soil.
Brown scorch marks on leaves; leafshine damage. Do not use. Clean only by spraying with water.
Plant looks floppy and dull; Needs feeding. Feed every 14 days in spring and summer and when producing flowers and plantlets.
Leaves turn dark green and lose variegation; too dark. Move to lighter place (in window but out of direct sunlight).
Plant rotting in center; overwatering. Allow to dry out before watering again - but plant may die.
Leaves transparent and soft; too cold. Move to warmer place, above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If frostbitten, plant will die.
Tips of leaves turn brown; too dry or too much direct sunlight. Water more frequently and move out of sun but keep in good light.
Leaves grow weak and lanky, become dry and lose color; too hot and dry. Soak for 10-15 minutes in bucket of water; drain. Water more frequently and keep in cooler place. Spray regularly.
Plantlets pull parent plant to one side; repot parent; remove plantlets.
MOST COMMON INSECT PROBLEMS: scale
Leaf edges eaten away; Greenfly. Spray every 14 days with pyrethrum or insecticidal soap until clear. Cut off eaten leaves at soil level.
Leaves dull and grayish with webs underneath; red spider mite. Spray with kelthane or insecticidal soap every 14 days until clear. Spray with water more often to improve humidity.
MOST COMMON DISEASES:
Tips of leaves turn brown or tan. The damaged area spreads slowly along the leaf. Older leaves are most severely affected. The problem can be any combination of the following factors. 1-salt accumulating in the soil from water or fertilizer is carried to the tips of leaves causing them to die. Salts accumulate most rapidly when the soil is dry. 2-if the plant is not getting enough water, the leaf tip is the first part to die. 3-some chemicals, especially chloride and borate, are very damaging even in small amounts. They accumulate in leaf tips, killing the tissue.
Cure: Trim off dead tips with a pair of scissors. The following solutions correspond to the numbered problems listed above: 1-place the plant in a bathtub or laundry sink and leach excess salts by flushing with water at least 3 times. Let the water drain completely each time. Always water spider plants from the top of the pot. If you use a saucer to catch the water, empty it after each watering. Never let a plant stand in the drainage water. Do not overfertilize. 2-water the plant regularly. 3-there isn't much you can do about traces of toxic chemicals other than to use distilled or deionized water that is free of chemicals.
One of the most commonly grown plants exhibiting tip burn from excess fluoride is the spider plant.
If new growth shows blackened or rotted areas, the soil is likely too acid; correct this by working a tablespoonful of horticultural limestone into the soil's surface. Spider plant has thick roots, almost like white radishes, and does best moved to a size-larger pot when the old one is filled with roots.
NOTES OR OTHER COMMENTS:
The all-green variety, Chlorophytum comosum is a stronger grower than the variegated variety. Its entire leaf produces food, but the white areas in the leaves of variegated plants do not.
One of the most common foliage plants to develop runners is the spider plant. A common misconception is that spider plants must be potbound to develop runners. This popular idea has been discredited by a researcher at the University of Illinois, who demonstrated that the critical factor influencing the growth of runners by plants with that capability is not whether they are potbound but how much light they receive. Spider plants develop runners after they bloom, and they have been found to send out flower stalks most readily when given short-day light conditions of only eight hours of light per day for 12 weeks. Therefore, you might try temporarily growing spider plants under a short-day regimen to elicit more runners. Slightly reduced temperatures and less watering and feeding also will be required during this treatment; otherwise, you could very well end up with an overwatering problem and/or spindly plants.
Also, if you do not remove the spent flowers from your plants, you might be rewarded with fruits from which you can gather seeds.
Artificial lighting requiremnts of popular house plants - chlorophytum, needs neutral day photoperiod, distance in inches/centimeters from 2 40-watt cool white fluorescent tubes - 6 to 10 in./15 to 25 cm.
Spider plants need medium (8 to 12 inches) suggested light requirements for artificial light.