Question about my spider plant

It’s about 3 years old. I put it out on the porch in the spring and take it in in the fall. It has the same dirt it came with. I just water it and try to let it have some sunlight. Some of the leaves are brown but most are green.

Should I change the dirt or give it plant food or something at this point?

I don’t have an answer (sorry) but is it true that spider plant does whatever a spider can’t?

Look at the base of the mass of leaves, at the soil. Can you see a ball of roots? Then it would like a bigger pot, please.

Spider plants are wonderfully forgiving creatures. They don’t much care what sort of sun they get, they tolerate a lot of “oops” on both extremes of watering (overwatering or underwatering) and since they spend so much time making their topsides lush and fruitful, their roots don’t grow all that fast. Unlike some plants, spider plants don’t need to be repotted every year. But that does mean you need to check on them periodically, and a visible root ball is the signal that they’ve outgrown their pot.

They prefer being repotted in the spring, but, again, it’s a spider plant. They’re very tolerant.

When you repot it, use potting mix and a pot about 3-4 inches bigger than the one it’s in now. Pick one that drains well, either with holes in the bottom and a saucer or one you can put gravel into the bottom (or both gravel and holes with a saucer is good, too.)

No need to get rid off all the old soil that clings to the roots when you lift it, just put some new potting soil in the bottom of the bigger pot (on top of gravel if you’re using it), use your finger or a chopstick to loosen the soil in the old pot, lift, and transplant. Fill in any remaining space with new potting mix.

The brown leaves can be pinched or cut off with sharp scissors. If there are brown tips on some of the leaves, you can trim those as well. I usually cut on a diagonal so it doesn’t look so sad and blunt. Water thoroughly when you’ve done your maintenance. When she’s gone through a big transition, I like to bring her to my sink for a really good soaking, and leave her there to drain for an hour or so. Otherwise, just water her as you’ve been watering her.

Real plant enthusiasts insist that you need to feed spider plants liquid fertilizer once a week. I’ve not found that to be the case, but it couldn’t hurt. If she’s putting out baby plantlets, she’s mature and happy and well nourished. If, at her age, she doesn’t have babies yet, she’s hungry, and needs fertilizer.

Those little babies are super easy to plant, too. Just trim one off with scissors, fill a pot with soil and press a baby into it. Water, and now you have two spider plants!

Spider Plant
Spider Plant
Does whatever a Spider can’t
Sure is very tolerant
Plan to repot it, but we shan’t
Look out!
There goes a Spider Plant!


I have now taught that to the Dudeling, and we’ve been singing it around the house.

ETA: I just realized on hitting ‘submit’ that thirty or so years from now he’ll be posting a question to Cafe Society: “Spider plant song. Anybody know where it’s from? Is it regional?” A very old bienville will stir in his nursing home bed and type out his final reply …

Easy and more dependable way to tell if a plant needs repotting: turn the pot over (slide your fingers over the top of the soil ball first to prevent accidents) and ease the plant out of the pot. If the soil is a mass of roots, the plant needs repotting. If the soil is soggy, you’ve overwatered. If it’s bone dry, you’ve underwatered. If creatures from the planet Zog start darting around, you’ve got bug problems.

Easy. :cool:

Unless it’s an orchid, of course! Or ficus or aloe or African violet. There are a several others that prefer being root bound, but I can’t remember off the top of my head what they are… Oh, how I love google! Should You Repot Your Plant: Happy Root Bound House Plants

Spider plants (Spider Plant, Spider Plant…) are on the root bound liking end of the spectrum, but they won’t squawk too much if they’re not, either (Sure is very tolerant…) They won’t give you babies or flowers until they’ve grown enough roots to become root bound again, though. The “stress” of root binding tells her she could die any day now, so she better get to reproducing. But, much like the ticking biological clock of a human woman, it’s the kind of stress that can make her productive for years.

So it depends what you want out of your plant. If you want lush thick leaves and nothing else, then yes, we’re gonna need a bigger pot. If you want flowers and spider plantlets, then leave it somewhat root bound. But a visible root ball protruding from the top of the soil is *too *root bound, and needs a bigger pot.

(“Root bound” for those playing along at home, is what container gardeners call it when you see nothing but a mass of roots when you lift the plant from the pot. The roots begin to tangle themselves, having nowhere else to go.)

I should have specified the great majority of rootbound plants should be repotted (not that I necessarily agree with your list of exceptions - for instance African violets). Clivia is an example of a potted plant that blooms best when it is rootbound, even to the point of bursting the pot due to exuberant root growth. And that seems to be where the relatively few exceptions to the rule lie - plants that bloom better when they feel The End Is Near (root constriction being a hint) and they better bloom and set seed for new generations while they can. I don’t think spider plants fit into that category.

I think the reason African violets are so often on those lists is that they’re the opposite of tolerant. They’re little whiny bitches that like to die if you look at them wrong, just to make you feel guilty. Repotting an African violet rarely goes well for the average homeowner. They’ll stay alive longer root bound than repotted by a normal person. (I bring my African violets to my teacher to repot, and even then half the time, I’m buying a new African violet in the near future.)

Can you swing from its vine?
No you can’t, it’s too small
look out…

If you do decide to re-pot the spider plant, best to do it in late winter, just before spring breaks, before the plant “wakes up”. Give it a good trimming at the same time to get rid of the brown bits.

They also like to get *some *sun for a few hours each day, but it’s best not to put them where the sun beats down all day long.

What surprised me is that you mention moving it in winter - the spider plants at my house are about 4 metres tall and growing against a kind of rope web thing so it would be impossible to move them. Very majestic!! Spider plants are some of my favourite plants! :slight_smile:

Um, sorry, it turns out that what (in my native language) is known as a spider plant is actually what you would call a Lace Fern ( Asparagus setaceus - Wikipedia ) so not the same thing at all!!:smack:

*Lace Fern
Growin’ by a rubber plant
thought he was a different plant,
bumped into a rooted ball ,
put him in a new pot,
Lace Fern!!!
Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na…

I can’t be the only one to remember the Batman song line that… but where did it come from?