Odds are, you’ve seen quite a few spiders in your time (no, not those lovely, eight-legged organisms we share such disparate sentiments towards) in any number of locations. Doctor’s offices, hair studios, and office buildings are only a few meager examples of where “spider plants” can be found; the vastness of this locale list itself indicates the wide popularity of the genus. Although their common name may not hint at the quantity of positive reception Chlorophytum receive, they have, in fact, been popular houseplants for a few centuries due to their ease of care, visual aesthetics, and tendency for reproduction.
Chlorophytum are a tropical genus in the lily family that hail from southern Africa. These leafy beauts were first discovered by the Swedish naturalist Carl Peter Thunberg in 1794 and were introduced to Europe not soon after. According to the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, records dating to Victorian England associate spider plants with the affectionate nickname of “ribbon plants,” which arose as a result of their lengthy, striped leaves and striking similarity to the fashion features of the time. However, the more generally-known name of “spider plant” stems directly from the numerous offsets healthy plants produce, which hang from their parent plant in a manner similar to how spiders dangle from their webs.
The popularity of the spider plant as an integral feature of most indoor jungles is also traceable to the Victorian era, during which the presence of indoor specimens rose within the parlours of more opulent members of society. Favor of the genus has not diminished since, and, during the nineties, these springy sprawlers made their way into the macrame hangers you may have seen, yourself.
As prior stated, Chlorophytum are one species of plant that supply a whole bunch of visual appeal for an almost-negligible amount of care.
Let’s start at the root of the issue and begin with proper soil and potting (or re-potting) procedures. Chlorophytum do best in well-draining, “soil-less” growing substrates, a characteristic contributable to the genus’s natural habitat. Spider plants can be placed in containers one size up from that in which they came if you wish to re-pot after adoption. There is a trivial amount of fear of root binding when dealing with Chlorophytum, and it is only truly necessary to transplant a specimen if it becomes extremely root-bound. When this time comes, though, it is best to trim the plant’s roots, work some of the old soil that may be caught between them, and replant in a pot one size up from its original container (with fresh soil!).
As you may have deduced from the soil conditions in which Chlorophytum flourish, the plants within the genus do not require exorbitant amounts of water. Over-watering is (surprise, surprise) a primary issue when dealing with genus members, and plants should be watered when the top two centimeters of soil are dry. This can be reeled back slightly in the semi-dormant months (winter) to allot for the decrease in the plant’s growth cycle.
Chlorophytum fertilization is not a particularly tremendous concern, and specimens would benefit from fertilization three times per year. Water-soluble fertilizers are most acceptable at half strength, but any persuasion of plant food should be low in boron and fluoride-free.
Due to their tropical associations, spider plants are receptive to changes in temperature and values that are typically “low.” The optimal temperature range for the genus is an agreeable 65°F to 90°F, and should be kept well above the 55°F danger mark. In regards to other air quality concerns, Chlorophytum favor humid air conditions and will thrive if kept in a bathroom with ample sunlight.
The definition of “ample sunlight” as used above entails moderate, indirect light. South- and east-facing windowsills provide prime locations for spider plants given the amount of sunlight they receive, but west-facing sills should be avoided due to the intensity of afternoon sun, which could scorch the plant’s leaves.
Unfortunately, spider plants fall victim to the usual infestations and infections, up to and including: aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, white flies, and root rot (from over watering). Specialized care can be taken against these pests, and for those which cannot simply be rinsed off, neem oil is an effective, natural method of treatment.