A Spidery Problem

November 03, 2008

A post-Halloween problem – no, not how to get rid of the fake webs, but an ailing Spider Plant...

Christine Graham has written to me with a problem with her spider plant:
Dear Diana,
I have had my Spider Plant since March and it was in awesome condition in my kitchen until recently – now the leaves seem to be drooping and my new babies seem to be browning, and shriveling up instead of growing…I am thinking maybe there might not be enough light since I have not been opening the shades in an effort to keep the house cooler.
Does this sound light related or water related?
I have been trying to let it get dry but not completely dry between watering and have been using a fish chlorine neutralizer in the water. Some of the leaves on the mother and the babies also have brown tips.
I have recently moved the plant onto my porch to get more sun, thinking it may work - but I am not exactly sure what the problem is…

Hi Christine,
Spider Plants (Chlorophytums) are very attractive houseplants when they are happy – and very dreary when they’re not!
These plants love light and warmth - although strong, direct sunlight will scorch and spoil them.
They need to be re-potted every so often (at least once a year), because despite their delicate appearance Spider Plants are quite greedy and grow best when in a decent sized pot and with some new potting compost to eat.
They are water sensitive - folklore has it that they grow greenest on rainwater, but we don’t often have facilities for saving rainwater these days.
Using a ‘fish chlorine neutralizer’ shows that you understands the need to give the plant nice water, but I would suggest that instead all you need to do is fill a jug or small watering can with water and let it stand for a couple of days to let all the chlorine dissipate and then use this for watering.
The ‘babies’ at the ends of stalks can be put into little pots without severing them from the mother plant and after a few weeks will be found to have roots when they can be cut off from the main plant to form new ones.
Good luck and I hope this is helpful!
Happy Horticulture,