Spider Plants: Why Rhianna loves them, and why you should too - Sprouts of Bristol

Spider Plants: Why Rhianna loves them, and why you should too

30 de May, 2024Rhianna Bangham

Maybe your granny has one, or your parents. Maybe you see them in your local library. Maybe you’ve just seen too many of them and find them too commonplace. Whatever the reason, Spider Plants (Chlorophytum comosum) never seem to be a wish-list plant. But I’m here to tell you why they should be right up there! Any plant that can survive my parents’ house, look healthy in a public library, and not die on me when I was a student has to have something going for it.


Photo: This is about the size Arachne was when I took her to my student accommodation <3

Easygoing

I am not the biggest expert when it comes to plants, and I definitely wasn’t before I worked at Sprouts. But I have done well with my Spider Plants. The first one I had was propagated from one of my mum’s colony of plants, and I was very pleased with my very own plant and named her Arachne, after the mother of spiders. I put her in a ceramic pot without drainage (pot with a newer plant in pictured), in whatever soil was lying around, and watered her whenever I remembered. She was sat on a narrow window ledge and fell on the floor quite a bit. Not to mention she probably got more light than she needed, and stayed in the same small pot for several years. Despite all this, she survived, grew, and- once I put her in a bigger pot- did even better and produced baby plants! Several years later, she is now huge, and earlier this year had around thirty ‘baby’ plants growing off her- quite a lot of which are now outgrowing their own nursery pots.

In a nutshell, if you’re looking for a plant to grow, care for and propagate, this is the perfect starting point.


Photo: the level of potbound-ness my plants have to deal with!

Variegated (aesthetics)

If the easygoing nature of the plant isn’t enough of a sell for you, here’s another: Spider Plants are actually really pretty! I know the whole fountain of leaves thing isn’t for everybody, but aesthetically, a spider plant can really be quite pleasing. They don’t lean one way or the other and are naturally quite symmetrical. And most varieties are variegated! I was excited to get a different variety of Spider Plant as a gift last year; its variegation is the opposite way round to mine, so now I have a mixture of plants with alternating patterns of variegation.


Photo: Last Christmas’ Spider Plant gift- now in a much bigger pot, producing spiderettes and flowering!

And there are more varieties than just these two! There are up to fifteen varieties, from the Shamrock with solid green leaves, to the vittatum I have with a broad white stripe down the centre of each leaf. In the shop, I’ve had my eye on the Curly Spider Plant, the Bonnie, whose foliage curls back on itself really neatly. And there’s also the Fire Flash, with bright orange stems which really make it stand out. I won’t go through every single one here, but as you can see, there is variety here!

Finally, it’s all well and good having beautiful, rare plant varieties- but if you want to add greenery, maybe even some variegation, and be able to keep it green and vibrant, there are few better options than this one.

Propagation

Ah yes, propagation: the preserve of the true houseplant boffin. Knowing whether to propagate from a leaf or stem cutting, where to trim the stem, etc. can be a challenge- but a Spider Plant is the perfect introduction to propagation because it does it itself! When your plant is big enough, it will start putting out runners with baby spider plants on. Cute, right? And, even better, the proper name for these is ‘Spiderettes’!

The spiderettes grow by themselves whilst attached to the plants, and while you can root them in water, I’ve found the simplest way is to wait until they’ve grown a couple of bits of root themselves (you’ll spot these easily enough, they are quite thick and grow from the bottom of the baby plant), and then sticking them straight into soil. You don’t have to wait until every Spiderette on the runner is ready, either; you can trim off the ones that are ready and the remaining ones should continue to grow. I have had 100% success planting Spiderettes with at least 1 cm of root straight into soil- they really have a will to live, making them perfect for learning to propagate!


Photo: my living-room spider-plant farm is getting a little out of hand…

Alternatively, if you are up for a challenge, you could keep the spiderettes on the parent plant too! The plant will need more nutrients to sustain itself but, with patience and care, you can have a huge fountain of greenery in your home- all from a plant many consider to be too pedestrian for a collection. Even the most common varieties can look incredible with tens of baby spiderettes cascading around them- and all you need is time and- eventually- space to hang them! 

Forgiveness

No, I’m not asking for your forgiveness- not yet- but I was asking for my plant, Arachne’s, when I dropped her whilst repotting her. I hadn’t repotted her in a few years and had to cut her out of the pot (I cut the pot, not the plant, although I’m sure the roots didn’t get out of it 100% unscathed). When she finally got loose she slipped out of my hands and landed, top down, on the kitchen floor. I was in a panic, my housemates weren’t pleased with the soil everywhere, and my plant had no leaves left- she was literally a bit of a stump on the roots, which still had bits of plastic stuck in them. I thought that was the end for Arachne, but I finished the repot just in case and was delighted, a few weeks later, to see new leaves poking through the soil. She had survived! And she grew back bigger than ever, sprouting more spiderettes, and begging for another repot a year or so later.


Photo: just some of the spiderettes currently growing on my plant, Arachne


In conclusion: buy spidies!

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Spider Plants have got me to where I am now. I’ve learnt about houseplant care through them, and have seen them thrive as I learnt how I should have been caring for them all along. They have grown alarmingly quickly, for example, in soil with lots of nutrients. The only issues I’ve really had, aside from my own clumsiness, have been where to put all the baby plants, and slight browning on the leaf tips, which is just caused by the chemicals in tap water. I am hoping to set up a water butt at some point so my plants can have the finest fresh rainwater, but I’ve so far been too busy filling my house with plants…

My Spider Plants have helped me through my degree, got me into houseplants and given me the confidence to grow, and even propagate, so many other plant species. While I no longer have a windowsill full of just these same plants, they still have a special place in my heart- and a lot of shelf space in my home. 

And the homes of many of my friends and family who have received them as gifts.

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