Chlorophytum, a popular houseplant more commonly known as spider plant, produces long, grassy, straplike leaves striped with yellow or white. With proper care, narrow flower stalks sprout from the plant's base, producing small white flowers. Healthy plants produce small offshoots from the flowers that take root when they touch soil, making propagation extremely easy. Fast-growing chlorophytum reaches up to 3 feet long and 2 1/2 feet wide when grown in hanging baskets and requires only routine care to thrive indoors.
Site and Soil
Chlorophytum thrives in a location that receives bright, indirect sunlight. The plant can tolerate some direct light, though too much may scorch the foliage. A bright, north-facing window provides adequate sunlight without causing damage. Dull or weak leaves may indicate the plant is not receiving enough light. Well-drained, fertile potting soil with added perlite to increase drainage provides an ideal growing medium. Spider plant creates a dramatic display when planted in a hanging basket, as its long leaves and plantlets cascade over the edges.
Chlorophytum prefers moderately warm temperatures, between 65 and 80 degrees F, at all times. Although the plant can sometimes survive temperatures as cold as 40 degrees F, an average temperature above 60 degrees F minimizes the risk of damage. Moving the plant back several feet from the window during winter protects it from colder air.
Watering requirements depend on the plant's environment. Chlorophytum needs water any time the surface of the soil feels dry to the touch. This usually occurs about once a week, but it may take longer if the air near the plant stays cool. If the air stays warm and dry, the plant may need more frequent watering. Chlorophytum is sensitive to the fluoride in tap water and performs best when watered with spring or distilled water. Using tap water may cause the leaves to yellow.
The frequency of fertilization depends on the amount of light chlorophytum receives. Plants grown in high light require feeding once every two months, while those grown in medium light require feeding once every three months. A complete 20-20-20 NPK water-soluble fertilizer provides the proper nutrition for chlorophytum to thrive. Root injury may occur if the plant receives fertilizer while the soil is dry. Feeding just after watering yields the best results.
Spider plants require frequent repotting, as they quickly fill their growing containers. Repotting can take place any time of year, ideally just before the roots expand enough to crack the container. Increasing the size of the container by 2 to 3 inches in diameter provides plenty of room for new root growth, and fresh soil decreases the shock of transplanting. Repotting is an ideal time to propagate new plants by clipping off plantlets and placing them directly into fresh, moist potting soil. The plantlets should take root within a few days.