How to Grow Spider Plants

a spider plant growing on a mantel

The Spruce / Krystal Slagle

Despite their creepy-crawly name, spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) are among the most popular houseplants to grow. These hardy plants will survive less-than-perfect conditions, and they are stunning when you can mimic their native tropical environment. These plants grow slender, gently arching leaves that can stretch from around 1 to 1.5 feet long on average. The leaves can be green or striped green and white. Mature plants regularly send out long stems that bear small, star-shaped flowers. Once the flowers fall off, tiny plantlets form in their place, which ultimately grow their own roots. Spider plants can typically be planted at any time as long as they are not exposed to frost. They have a moderate growth rate.

Botanical Name Chlorophytum comosum 
Common Names Spider plant, airplane plant, spider ivy, ribbon plant, Bernard’s lily
Plant Type Herbaceous, perennial
Mature Size 1–2 ft. tall and wide
Sun Exposure Partial, shade
Soil Type Loamy, well-drained
Soil pH Neutral
Bloom Time Flowers regularly
Flower Color White
Hardiness Zones 9–11 (USDA)
Native Area Africa
frontal shot of a spider plant
The Spruce / Krystal Slagle
closeup of spider plant leaves
The Spruce / Krystal Slagle 
closeup of spider plant soil
The Spruce / Krystal Slagle

Spider Plant Care

Spider plants are often grown in containers as hanging plants due to the cascading nature of their foliage and their long stems with plantlets. They also look great when grown atop columns. If you place their container on something rather than hanging it, make sure the long leaves aren’t getting crushed and the long plantlet stems don’t get so heavy that they pull over the pot. In warm climates, spider plants do well in outdoor planters and as ground cover plants. 

Regular watering is typically the most time-consuming part of spider plant care. Throughout the growing season (spring to fall) also plan to fertilize on a regular basis. And repot your plant as needed once its roots have outgrown the container. 

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Watch Now: How to Grow and Care for Spider Plants

Light

Outdoors, spider plants prefer to grow in light shade. They can tolerate heavy shade, but their growth won't be as robust. Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves. Indoors, a bright window that gets indirect sun is ideal.

Soil

These plants can grow in a variety of soil types, but they like a loose, loamy soil with sharp drainage. They prefer a fairly neutral soil pH but can tolerate slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil. A high level of salts in the soil can cause the leaf tips to turn brown.

Water

Spider plants like lightly moist but not soggy soil. Overwatering can cause root rot and ultimately kill the plant. These plants are sensitive to fluoride and chlorine in water, which can brown the leaf tips. So if possible, use rainwater or distilled water for container plants.

Temperature and Humidity

Warm, humid conditions are ideal for spider plants. They don’t like temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This means they should be protected from drafts and air-conditioning vents when grown indoors. Moreover, the leaf tips can brown if the humidity is too low. Regular misting of the plant can help to maintain adequate humidity.

Fertilizer

These plants like a moderate amount of fertilization. Too much fertilizer can cause brown leaf tips, but too little fertilizer will result in weak growth. Use an all-purpose granular or water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season following label instructions. Adjust the amount if necessary depending on your plant's growth.

Spider Plant Varieties

There are several varieties of spider plants, including:

  • Chlorophytum comosum 'Variegatum': This variety has leaf margins of cream or white with a dark green stripe down the middle. Its long stems are green.
  • Chlorophytum comosum 'Vittatum': This plant’s leaves have a center white stripe surrounded by medium green margins. Its long stems are white.
  • Chlorophytum comosum 'Bonnie': This variety is more compact than the main species plant and has loosely curled leaves with green margins and a cream center stripe. It produces yellow flowers.

Propagating Spider Plants

Spider plants are extremely easy to propagate. Simply leave the small plantlets on their stem until they develop roots that are at least an inch or two long. Then, carefully cut them off the stem, keeping the roots intact. Pot them in a container with good drainage, and make sure the soil stays moist (but not soggy) until they become established. Alternatively, mature plants can be dug up and divided. Gently pull apart the root ball into sections, keeping as many roots intact as possible. Then, replant the sections.

Potting and Repotting Spider Plants

Grow spider plants in containers that are slightly larger than their root balls. Ensure that the containers have ample drainage holes, and use a loose potting mix. Spider plants will typically need repotting every two to three years. You'll know it's time when you see roots protruding out of the drainage holes and up above the soil line. The best time to repot is in the spring. Gently remove the plant from its old container, and position it at the same depth in a slightly bigger container. Then, fill around it with fresh potting mix.

Common Pests/Diseases

Spider plants are generally healthy, but a few common plant pests, including aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites, can impact them. Depreciated foliage is a common sign of an infestation. A natural and effective way to combat some infestations is simply to rinse the plant with water. An insecticide can be used on more serious infestations.

Article Sources
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  1. Spider Plant, Chlorophytum comosum. University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension.

  2. Common Houseplant Insects and Related Pests. Clemson University Cooperative Extension.