The Spider Plant, or the Chlorophytum comosum, is a tropical perennial and popular houseplant. It can grow to several inches in height and width and does best as a hanging plant or when it is on a high shelf since it sends out long leaves and cascading stalks – lending it the nickname the ‘airplane plant’.
Spider plants are incredibly easy to grow and will tolerate a lot of neglect. They can also put up with various conditions in terms of lighting and temperature (although they don’t much like midday sun). Hard to kill a spider plant. Apparently they also reduce indoor air pollution.
Spider plants are probably among the easiest plants to propagate since they send out long stalks that produce small flowers on the end. They are hermaphrodites; any one will self-fertilize and produce these flowered stalks which are followed by little ‘baby’ spider plants.
Baby spider plants can easily be potted and grown to a plant that will produce babies of its own – so you can easily have generations of spider plants under the same roof.
One way is to grow the babies into separate plants is to prepare a small pot of soil, place it next to the ‘parent’ plant and bend the stalk until the baby is resting on the soil. Peg it in place or firmly pack some soil to keep it there. Once the baby is growing new leaves, you can snip the umbilical stalk.
Another way is to wait till the baby is sprouting some roots, then snip it off and set it in a bowl or cup of water. After a few days the roots should have grown quite long and you can transfer the little plant to a pot of soil.
So if don’t have a spider plant but find yourself intrigued by this hardy little self-propagator, please don’t bother buying one (although I’m sure they are pretty inexpensive). Just let me know and I’d be happy to pot the next baby one for you. And if it doesn’t survive, I’m sure I’ll have more to give you if the cats don’t get to them first (those flowering stalks hang down in such a tantalizing way...)