Office Plants Tips & Ideas

Plant of the Month – Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

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The Spider Plant has to be the most well known and most loved tropical house plant. Everyone recognizes this distinctive grass-like plant with its delicate ‘babies’.  It originated in tropical and south Africa, but has been naturalized almost worldwide.

Two cultivars or varieties are popular. ‘Vittatum’ is very common, and has medium green leaves with white centers. The stems of the ‘babies’ are white. ‘Variegatum’ has darker leaves with white edges, and the stems are green. Less commom is an all green variety. All varieties produce flowers along long stems that shoot from the center of the plant. At the tips of these stems are plantlets (babies).

Spider plants rank high on NASA’s list of house plants that clean the air. Spider plants in particular can remove formaldehyde that is emitted from new furniture and carpeting.

This hardy plant is relatively easy to care for. One of its best characteristics is that it is tolerant of a wide range of temperatures. Unlike most tropical plants, it can handle temperatures as low as 2C for short periods of time. In general, it prefers cooler temperatures ranging from 15-20C. The Spider plant generally has few pest or disease problems. It is more sensitive to fluoride in tap water. This may result in brown tips on the leaves. Brown tips can also be caused by over-watering. Spider plants should be kept in light, well-drained soil and allowed to dry out slightly between waterings. Fertilize regularly during the spring, summer and fall. Prune often, cutting the shoots to soil level in order to keep the plant full and healthy.

You can share you Spider plant with friends and family very easily. The ‘babies’ will root easily when placed in moist soil, and quickly develop into a mature plant. Place several plantlets close together in the pot to produce a full plant.

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