Feb 20

Natural and Noteworthy: Spider Plants

Heard a crash a little while ago and two puppies came darting out of the sunroom, back legs trying to outrun the rest of their bodies. Among other things, it reminded me of a blog post I’d started writing on the subject of this morning’s mishap: the spider plant. Officially Chlorophytum comosum, it is also sometimes known as airplane plant, ribbon plant, or St. Bernard’s lily.

My poor spider plant, victim of puppy mayhem.

In my vision of houseplant supremacy, there are those that are easy to care for and those that are good at cleaning the air. At the intersection of both these optimal qualities sits the humble spider plant. Add to that the fact that it’s non-toxic to pets and has the ability to grow its own babies spontaneously, and you’ve got all around houseplant awesomeness.

I’ve been a spider plant groupie from way back. I have a distinct memory of eating dinner throughout my childhood with the long, spindly leaves of a spider plant tickling the top of my head. (I sat closest to the window.) Imagine a tarantula styling your hair and you’ll get the picture. Now that I think of it, maybe that’s why I was so skinny as a kid. (Disclaimer: if a spider-plant fad diet crops up from what I just wrote, I want no part of it.)

Oops, wrong kind of spider plant (but closer to my childhood memories)

Image via pixabay/Pitsch

Based on my longtime fandom, we have quite a few spider plants in our home. Most of them are related; some are descended from older plants, long gone.

Speaking of plants long gone, have I mentioned my thumb is only chartreuse? No worry, spider plants to the rescue. You see, my spider plants help me by serving as the voice of the rest of the plants in my home. If they start to droop? Everyone’s thirsty. Since I’m much better at caring for beings who pester me for food or drink, I appreciate the spider plants’ speaking up, too.

Source: pinterest.com

Some other great things about spider plants:

*They prefer bright, indirect light, but will tolerate shadier spots.

*They like cooler temps, 55-70 degree range is best, but my house definitely gets warmer than that in the summer. They persist, along with the rest of us.

*They’re okay with drying out between waterings, which might bug my other plants, but no one’s complained yet. Overwatering is not good for them, but that’s never a problem in my house.

*They like being somewhat root bound, so the spider plant that suffered the loss of habitat today is doing well, root-fully speaking.

*The tips of their leaves do sometimes turn brown, but it only means they might be getting too much flouride or chlorine from tap water. Apparently, rain water or distilled water will correct this, but I just clip the brown tips off with scissors. Over fertilizing may also cause the brown tips, but that’s also never a problem around here.

*Basically, less is more when it comes to spider plants, so that suits me just fine.

*Fun fact I learned while reading up on spider plants:

Cats mainly like spider plants because they are mildly hallucinogenic. Yes, it’s true. Similar in nature to the effects of catnip, spider plants produce chemicals that induce your cat’s obsessive behavior and fascination.” (Thanks, gardeningknowhow.com!)Just say no to catnip …and spider plants

Image via pixabay/makamukiO

*Another spider plant bonus: They’ll grow their own replacements babies! They will sometimes bloom with small white flowers, which become mini-spider plants, known as spiderettes. Cute, huh? These can be potted next to the mother plant and, once established, clipped free. They can also be rooted in water, which is how I usually get my spiderettes going on their own. I take three of four spiderettes at a time and, once they’ve sprouted some nice roots in the water, plant them together in a new pot. Voila. New, low maintenance houseplant.


A spiderette on one of my plants

I’ve said many times that I have my own version of natural selection happening within the walls of my house. Even some seemingly easy plants don’t make the cut (ahem, cactuses), but spider plants are definite survivors. As such, they’ve earned a top spot in my favorite houseplant list.

Note: no puppies were harmed in the making of this post and as for my little spider plant, it’ll pull through just fine. 🙂

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