How to prune a spider plant

The Chlorophytum comosum more commonly known as the Spider Plant is famous among indoor gardeners and those interested in caring for house plants. Known for their unique looks and babies or leaf clusters that look like tiny spiders parachuting down the plant, the spider plant has started to gain popularity among people in the United States as well as those around the globe. Let us check how to prune a spider plant?

These plants make an excellent addition to hanging baskets with their ribbon-like foliage and hence can be placed around the house without worrying about disturbing other plants or furniture.

This article will take you through details about spider plants and answer frequently asked questions like how to prune a spider plant? Should I cut the babies off my spider plant? What precautions need to be taken while pruning the plant? Etc.

Before going into details about how to prune a spider plant, it is important to understand where the spider plant comes from and what are its basic characteristics. Here is all you need to know about the spider plant.

What are spider plants?

What are spider plants? The Spider plant is known for its air-purifying qualities where they are placed. These plants have gain popularity as house plants over the years for their distinct looks and dangling babies. These plants grow about 60 cm tall while its narrow leaves grow to about 20 to 25cm in length. 

The Chlorophytum comosum other than spider plant is known by other names like airplane plant, St. Bernard’s lily, spider ivy, ribbon plant, and hen and chickens. There are also several variants of the spider plant and care tips may differ depending on the variant.

According to research conducted by NASA, the spider plant can eliminate up to 90% of potentially toxic chemicals from the air. This makes them excellent stress busters and mental health boosters. The spider plant is also recommended for older people and those suffering from depression, loneliness, and other mental health concerns. 

So, is this an indoor plant or an outdoor plant? there are so many questions that pop up about where this plant can be planted and cared for.

Is the spider plant and indoor plant or an outdoor plant?

Is the spider plant and indoor plant or an outdoor plant? The spider plant is native to tropical and southern Africa where they grow outdoors in the shadow of other plants. These plants have the reputation of being air cleaners and hence they were brought indoors and cared for as house plants.

The spider plant cannot stand direct sunlight and hence it does well as an indoor plant. Placement of the plant is left to the liking of the plant parent. You can place them in hanging pots either indoors, outdoors on either side of the entrance.

As these plants are native to tropical conditions they do well indoors where humidity can be controlled. But again, it depends on the location where you live and the weather conditions in that area.

After understanding the basic details about the spider plant it is necessary to understand how to care spider plants, this will help burst myths and answer the frequently asked questions about spider plant care.

How to care for spider plants?

Like most house plants, caring for spider plants is fairly simple. Being adaptive comes naturally to the spider plant, in terms of growth and nourishment these plants are not fussy about the soil they are planted in. The only condition though is that the soil they are planted in needs to be one that can drain easily. When planted outdoors, see that the soil contains sand. This ensures that the roots are dry and do not get soggy and rot.

how to grow spider plant
pruning a spider plant

In a similar manner when planted in pots ensure that the potting mix contains a draining agent like coco coir, vermiculite, sand, or other draining agents. Also, make sure that the pot has holes punched in at the bottom to ensure drainage.

When planted indoors the spider plant needs to be watered about once a week during summer and spring. When outdoors it depends on the weather conditions prevalent at your location and the evaporation rate. In winter, however, the plant can be watered less often. Pay attention to the soil let it dry out a little before the next watering session.

The spider plant does well in comparatively warmer conditions if you live in a locality that has fluctuating conditions keep the plant indoors. The ideal temperature for these plants is 50 °F (10 °C) to 80 °F (27 °C). when placed indoors you can place a humidifier close to the plant, you can either opt for electric humidifiers of a DIY method. This way the plant feels more at home.

Soil, water, and sun are the main ingredients required to keep a plant in good shape lets explore how much sunlight this plant requires.

How much sun does the spider plant require?

These plants love a moderate to a well-lit room and are not fond of direct sun. The more indirect the sunlight the better it is for the overall health and development of the plant. If you have south-facing windows it is advisable to place the spider plant at least 20 inches away from the window.

In terms of placement, these plants can be placed on window seals, in bathrooms, bedrooms, and any place that is moderately lit. In case the plant is outdoors, look for the shadiest spot available and place the plant there. This will help avoid direct sun exposure.

There is a myth that you need specially treated water to grow spider plants and that you cannot use tap water as it may cause the plant to die.

Tip: more light means more babies, expose the spider plant to bright indirect light for about 12 hours a day to help them produce more babies.

Does the spider plant require special water?

Whether planted indoors or outdoors the plant must receive enough moisture. This being said it is also important to pay attention to the quality of water fed to the plant. These plants are sensitive to fluoride, and it is necessary to pay attention to the fluoride levels in the water before you use it to water the plant.

Testing tap water can be done easily by purchasing a home testing kit available off Amazon, eBay, or other e-commerce websites. Once the water is tested it can be treated before use.

If testing is something you do not want to venture into you can skip tap water altogether and use distilled or rainwater. Apart from the constitution of the water used ones also needs to be careful not to shock the plant with water that is either too hot or too cold. This can be moderated by letting the water sit for a while before watering.

This method also reduces the chlorine levels in the water. There have been talks about letting the water stay under the sun for a while before watering spider plants as the fluorides and chlorine in the water evaporates, but this is not true, letting water sit under the sun will only evaporate chlorine but fluorides are still present. Hence to avoid experimenting you can use water that is filtered, distilled, or bottled.  

So, in short no, you do not need special water but you will need to be careful about the quality of water used. Do we need to feed the spider plant, along with water that’s treated? 

Does the spider plant require fertilizing?

Plants that are planted in the ground find nutrients and minerals that they require to grow in the soil itself. These plants have it easy as nature provides for them. When it comes to potted plants, they do not have this luxury, they get only those nutrients we feed them.

Hence it is important to feed plants once in a while. the choice of fertilizers used generally depends on the type of plant and the composition of the soil. it also depends on the nutrients the plant requires. 

For the spider plant, a well-balanced fertilizer works fine. You can use a liquid fertilizer once a month or a slow action once in two months. This will help the plant grow well.

Tip: fertilization is necessary when the plant is flowering as it takes up all the plant energy and nutrients.  

Understating care techniques for the plant is important, as so is the knowledge about the choices available in terms of plant species. With all the variants of this plant available, it is hard to choose which one is the best and which plant will suit your space the best. To help reduce the anxiety we have put together details about some of the common spider plant variants. 

Which is the best spider plant variant to plant indoors?

How to prune a spider plant
prune spider plant

In one line we can say that there is no best spider plant variant, but variants that suit your space and need best. There are about 65 species of the spider plant, most of these have not been domesticated yet but from those that are we have compiled a list of plants that are most commonly cared for.

Chlorophytum Comosum ‘Variegatum’ (Airplane Plant)

This is the most common variant that is seen in most households caring for plants. The leaves of this plant are easily identifiable with streaks, a light-yellow center outlined with forest green. Among all the variants available this plant is known to have more air purifying qualities as compared to others. 

Chlorophytum Comosum ‘Reverse Variegatum’ (Reverse Spider Plant)

This plant is quite literally a reverse spider plant with leaves that are green on the inside bordered with yellow. They are a bigger variant and can be used to mix things in terms of texture, size, and style. 

Chlorophytum Laxum (Zebra Plant)

The only difference between the Zebra plant and the Reverse spider plant is that the yellow tint in this plant is way thicker. The yellow is also deeper and much brighter as compared to other variants. This variant of the spider plant grows wider and not taller and hence is a good choice for rooms that are not symmetrical or those that are long and wide.

This variant of the spider plant may not be available in local stores and you will have to research online sites delivering them in your country. 

Chlorophytum Comosum (Bonnie Plant)

This variant is the most interesting of all the variants on this list. These plants have curly leaves as compared to the straight leaves of the spider plant. They might be a little difficult to find but most people propagate this variant instead of buying new ones.

Spider plants are a wonderful addition to any home but are these plants safe for children and pets? Let’s find out more in the next section.

Are spider plants toxic for pets?

Are spider plants toxic for pets? Spider plants are classified as non-toxic for most animals and children. This being said, extra caution needs to be maintained if you have cats as pets. These plants have been proved to cause an upset stomach and vomiting in cats. 

Tip: If you have pets or toddlers, it is better to keep these plants out of their reach. 

All plants need to be maintained with good quality soil, water, and sunlight, apart from these the one thing that keeps the plants looking fresh, presentable, and manageable is the pruning process. Does the following section talk about pruning in detail, right from questions like how to prune the spider plant? To should I cut the babies off my spider plant? 

How to prune a spider plant?

How to prune a spider plant? Pruning is nothing but trimming off leaves that are no longer in good shape or those that have been damaged or are sloppy. Spider plants do well when pruned from time to time. In spider plants where they do not have branches or stems the pruning process is fairly simple. These plants grow bushier in no time and hence you can never prune the plant too much. 

The spider plant can grow up to 2 ½ to 3 ft in both lengths as well as diameter depending on the variant. To keep the growth in check or to maintain a healthy plant it is important to prune it once in a while. Here is a step to step guide on how to prune a spider plant.

Step-1: sterilize the scissors or pruner

Before pruning it is important to pay attention to the tools. Sterile tools will avoid infections and diseases that may spread due to lingering pests on tools. Sterilize equipment before and after use with a bleach + water solution. 

Step-2: use sharp equipment

The sharper the equipment the better, as this avoids strain on the plant while pruning them. It will also help obtain a finer cut helping the plant to grow faster. Invest in sharpening equipment as this will reduce stress when it comes to sharpening scissors or pruners.

Step -3: Aim for the bottom

When pruning the spider plant it is important to cut them at the soil base. These plants do not have branches and secondary stems hence you will need to cut the leaves itself. 

How to identify the leaves that need to be pruned of a spider plant?

Identification of leaves that need to be pruned of the spider plant is simple, look for ones that have gone bad. The ones that are droopy or those that have discolored are the ones that need to go. Cut stems that are long as compared to others, this will give the plant a more structured and balanced look. This can be done for both the parent as well as the pups. 

Pruning has its benefits and knows how to prune a spider plant is always beneficial. To understand and care for a spider plant better one also needs to know what to do when your spider plant is dying. Is it possible to save the plant or should you throw it out?

How to save a dying spider plant?

Most gardeners and house plant owners find themselves in a situation where a plant dies on them. A dying plant doesn’t mean that you do not care for them well. sometimes it might just happen that a plant does not do well in a certain pot or it needs a little extra attention.

So, wither the plant is in bad shape after being in your care for long or you have taken it upon yourself to revive a dying plant, here is how it can be done.

First of all, you need to inspect the roots of the plant. More often than not a dying plant may be the result of rotting roots. To negate this possibility, check the roots of the plant. After looking at the roots of the plant check if other plants or off springs are growing in the same pot. Sometimes plants die because they do not have enough space to grow. 

If you see other plants growing in the same soil take them out carefully and replant them in another pot. this way you will have more spider plants to care for.

If the plant is not dying because of a root rot re pot the plant. This can be done in the same pot it was in or a new pot depending on the quality of the pot. pay attention to the bottom of the pot check for drainage holes. Also, check if the potting mix is the one that drains easily.

After potting the plant, water it to ensure that the plant stays in place.

In a few hours, you will see that the plant has settled. You can now inspect the leaves and cut off the dead, floppy, and diseased leaves. pruning the plant at this point will not only help inspect the plant for diseases but will also take the extra weight off the plant to ensure that it can grow well. the previous section on how to prune a spider plant will be helpful to understand this process better.

Water the plant and let it be. In about 10 to 15 days you will see that the plant has started to grow back and new shoots will appear. They may also be new offshoots around the plant, you can pluck them and plant them in another pot. 

Sometimes it may so happen that the plant is not dying but the tips of the plant have started to turn brown. This situation can be frustrating and you may not be sure how to fix it. here is a guide to getting out of a similar situation.

Why are the tips of my spider plant turning brown?

Why are the tips of my spider plant turning brown? Most house plants start turning brown when they are not watered enough or in some cases, they turn brown when exposed to too much light. When it comes to the spider plant, the tips of its leaves can turn brown even though the plant is watered regularly. Hence it is not the lack of water that causes the browning but the water quality. 

These plants are sensitive to fluoride present in water and this fluoride sensitivity causes the tips of the leaves to turn brown. An easy solution to this is changing the water used for watering. You can either opt for water that is distilled, bottled or treated. 

Another reason why the tips of the leaves of spider plants brown are due to perlite in the soil. the symptoms are the same as fluoride sensitivity. If this is the case, simply repot the plant and all will be well.  

Browning tips may also be due to over-fertilization or the lack of humidity in the room where the plant is. Pay attention to the frequency at which you fertilize the plant, do not overfertilize at the same time check fertilizer composition your potting mix might already have some ingredients.

If lack of humidity is the cause misting the plant often will help. You can also use a humidifier in the room the plant is placed in, or DIY humidifying methods popular over the internet. 

After getting into details about the spider plant it is also important to understand the much spoken about babies of this plant. 

spider plant caring tips
how to prune a spider plant

What are spider plant babies?

What are spider plant babies? Spider plants have become the most common house plants because of their dangling babies. When the spider plant in your care is happy and healthy you will see long thin stems growing from the center of the plant. These stems will have tiny babies or plantlets in the end. These tiny plants can be used for propagation. 

Should I cut the babies off my spider plant?

Should I cut the babies off my spider plant? Babies of the spider plant are used for propagation. These can be used to get multiple plants from one parent plant. Cutting babies off the parent plant will in no way harm the plant and hence it is encouraged as part of the pruning process. So, a simple answer to the question Should I cut the babies off my spider plant? Is Yes you should as this will allow new plants to grow. 

Now that we know that cutting the babies off the spider plant is a good idea let’s look at the cutting and propagating process. 

How do you cut a baby spider plant?

How do you cut a baby spider plant? The babies growing from the mother plant can be cut at the point where they attach to the stem. some people just break the babies off the parent plant and use it for propagation, we suggest you use a pair of pruners or sharp scissors as this is gentler on the plant and at the same time doesn’t harm the babies.

These cuttings can then be planted in smaller pots and cared for till they root. Once the rooting is complete, they will grow independently. If you are the type who needs to keep a close eye on the plant while the rooting is in the process you can use a clear beaker filled with water. This helps keep tabs on the progress of the plant.  

Once the plant roots, you can place it in a pot with a potting mix that drains well. A rooting

The agent will help the plant root faster. These can be purchased online or in a store that retails plants and plant-related equipment. Simply dip the plant in the rooting solution and pot it, if you are planning to use water for propagation you can add a few drops to the water. 

How to propagate a spider plant?

How to propagate a spider plant? Propagating spider plants is different as compared to other house plants as these plants grow babies that can be placed in the soil directly. When planting these babies you can take a container that about 4 to 5 inches wide and fill it with a well-draining potting mix.

After transferring the babies to pots water them generously. A beaker with water can also be used for this process. 

How big should spider plant babies be to propagate?

How big should spider plant babies be to propagate? The size of the babies does not matter as long as they root. Look for babies that are healthy and plant them in a good potting mix with or without a rooting agent. This will ensure that the new plant roots well and they thicken over time. 

Where do you cut a baby spider plant?

Where do you cut a baby spider plant? The babies of the spider plant need to be cut just where they join the stem. This is the node that will finally develop roots to support the plant. So cut the shiny bottom of the pubs. 

Why doesn’t my spider plant produce babies?

Why doesn’t my spider plant produce babies? If you have been caring for a spider plant for a long time and it hasn’t had babies yet it might be that the plant does not receive enough sunlight or humidity. It could also be that the plant is in a place that is too cold for its liking. Try changing the location of the plant or add fertilizers to the potting mix.

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In conclusion

The spider plant is an excellent choice when it comes to house plants. This plant needs very little care and can be propagated easily as compared to other plants. This article took you through details about how to prune a spider plant. With these tips and tricks, you will be able to look after your plant better. Happy gardening!