In the garden: Turning attention to houseplants

Chad Frey
The Kansan

We are approaching the cold months of winter here in Kansas.  Having houseplants in your home can be a bright spot during these cold winter months!  One of these is the popular, durable and exotic Spider Plant.  This plant is an easy houseplant to grow and enjoy. Spider or Airplane Plants have one of three leaf color patterns: solid green leaves, green edges with a white variegated stripe down the center of the leaf blade or leaves with white edges and a green stripe down the center.

Low-maintenance spider plants will thrive when placed in a sunny spot.

This easy to grow plant is more tolerant of extreme conditions than other houseplants, but it still has its climate preferences. Spider Plant thrives in cool to average home temperatures and partially dry to dry soil. Bright indirect light is best. Direct sunlight may cause leaf tip burn. Fertilizer may be applied monthly from March through September. A professional potting media containing sphagnum peat moss and little to no perlite is best.

Spider Plants store food reserves in adapted structures on the plants roots. These “swollen roots” can actually push the plant up and out or even break the pot. Avoid over fertilizing to minimize this growth characteristic.

Spider Plants are easy to propagate. Simply cut off one of the “spiders” or plantlets and place in a pot. You may need to pin it down to the surface of the potting media to hold it in place until the roots grow and anchor it. A paper clip bent into an elongated U shape does the trick.

Spider Plants are photoperiodic, that is, they respond to long uninterrupted periods of darkness (short day, long nights) by initiating flowering. Production of “spiders” follows flowering. This daylength occurs naturally in the fall of each year. However, if you place your plant in a room where you have the lights on each evening, and artificially create a longer day, then they may not flower and you will have fewer spiders.

Scott Eckert

null— Scott Eckert is a Kansas State Research and Extension Agent for Harvey County. Horticulture is his specialty.