Spider Plant- Airplane Plant
The Spider Plant, also known as the Airplane Plant and the Ribbon Plant is a native of southern africa. It’s slender grass like leaves grow from a central rosette forming a clump.
Small white flowers will form at the end of wiry stems up to 2 feet long growing from the central rosette. These small white flowers are not the attraction however. Soon they will be replaced by a small plantlet that looks like a miniature spider plant that hangs over the side of the pot. These plantlets can be rooted in a potting mix or cut from the main plant and rooted in water.
Although there are several cultivars, the most common are:
Chlorophytum Camosum Variegatum – green leaves with white stripes along the edges. These produce fewer flowers and plantlets than other varieties.
Chlorophytum Camosum Vittatum – green leaves with a broad central white stripe. These produce the most flowering stalks and plantlets and is the most common variety grown as a house plant.
Chlorophytum Camosum Mandaianum – a dwarf spider plant with leaves 4 to 6 inches long. This variety has either e central yellow stripe or yellow edges.
Chlorophytum Camosum Depense – has solid green leaves.
The airplane plant prefers bright to moderate light. It will tolerate, but not grow as well on lower light levels. Keep it out of the direct summer sun.
The spider plant will do well in normal household temperatures in the 65 to 75 degree F range.
The spider plant can be potted in any general purpose, well drained potting soil. It is best to use soils without perlite as the airplane plant is sensitive to the fluoride in perlite.
Water your spider plant thoroughly and then let go almost dry before watering thoroughly again. The thick tuberous roots of the spider plant store a considerable amount of water, so the soil needs to nearly dry out between waterings.
The spider plant is sensitive to the fluoride and salts in the water. It is best to use distilled water, or at least let the tap water to sit for a day in an open container for the fluorine and chlorine to evaporate. The fluoride in the water is the most common cause of brown leaf tips.
The airplane plant prefers moderate to higher humidity. Bathrooms and kitchens, which normally have higher humidity than other rooms, make good homes for spider plants.
If the leaves are turning brown at their base, that is a sure sign of overwatering. Loosen the top of the soil and move the house plant to a warmer location temporarily to get rid of the excess moisture.
The spider plant should be fertilized sparingly. Fertilize it at 1/2 strength 2 to 3 times a year during the spring and summer.
Spider plants like to be root bound. This will encourage the development of flower stalks and plantlets. They do not need to be repotted every year and repotting to a larger container will lead to a lull in the production of plantlets.
The baby spider plants at the end of the flower stalks can be pinned to the soil of a new pot with a paper clip and allowed to root before being cut from the main plant. It should take 2 to 3 weeks for roots to form. The plantlets can also be cut from the main plant and rooted in a container of water. If left attached to the main plant they will begin growing roots from the baby plants.
When the plant becomes extremely pot bound and the crown of the plant is pushed upward out of the pot, the plant can be repotted and the roots divided to start new plants.
Spider plants have been found to be particularily good at removing formaldehyde from the air. Formaldehyde finds its way into our homes from carpeting and furniture.
The spider plant makes an excellent hanging plant. It can also be displayed on a small table or stand where the plantlets are able to hang below the level of the pot.