Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant) -
- Botanical Name: Chlorophytum comosum
- Common Name: Spider Plant, Variegated Spider Plant, Ribbon Plant, Airplane Plant.
- Family name: Liliaceae (Lily Family)
- Plant type: An evergreen herbaceous perennial, native to South Africa.
- Light: Bright light or partial shade; Can tolerate direct morning sunlight, but avoid direct midday/afternoon sunlight that can scorch its leaves.
- Moisture: Performs well with regular watering and do allow soil to dry out between waterings. It can tolerate dry or humid conditions.
- Soil: Well-drained loamy soil though adaptable to any kind of garden or potting soil.
- Propagation: Easily propagated by dividing its root and stem mass. Or the better and easier alternative is by removing the baby plantlets growing along the elongated stolons and planting them individually in pots or on ground or in water.
Moreover, Spider Plants love to be pot bound and by not disturbing the main root mass, they will produce more plantlets to reward you. And, if the parent plant is planted on ground, the baby plantlets that it produces take root easily wherever they touch the ground.
Chlorophytum can also be propagated from seeds, though rarely done.
(Update: Scroll down the page to Jacqueline’s and David’s comments dated February 7 & 24, 2009 to find out how-to.)
- Features: Chlorophytum comosum is a fast growing, evergreen clump-forming plant reaching 1-1.5 ft tall with a spread of 2 feet, popularly grown for its attractive foliage. Its grass-like recurving leaves that grow from a central rosette are long, slender and tapering, measuring 20-40 cm (8-15 in) long and less than 2 cm broad.
The species, Chlorophytum comosum, has medium to dark-green satiny leaves, but most cultivars are variegated. Variegated leaves come in various shades of green bands with a white or yellow center stripe or vice versa. As it matures, it produces gracefully arching stolons that can be 1-3 ft long, and adorned with small white starry flowers (less than 1.5cm across). At the flowering nodes, baby plantlets are formed, resembling its miniature self, though more spider-like with their cluster of curled leaves and air roots. Hence, aptly known by their common names ‘Spider Plant’ or ‘Airplane Plant’. It has fleshy tuberous roots that store reserve food.
- Usage: Spider Plants make excellent house plants or indoor plants as they are not only such easy-growing plants but have beneficial properties in cleansing the air of pollutants, especially formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. As it tolerates artificial lighting very well and has air purifying abilities, it’s most ideal in office environment where electronic pollutants are emitted. Chlorophytum is perfectly showy in hanging baskets, whether indoors or outside, as well as an ideal groundcover in garden beds or borders. Excellent too for container gardening or planter boxes, placed at balconies, window sills or raised on a pedestal.
- Care: Requires bright light or filtered sunlight for best growth and vibrant leaf colors. Never locate Spider Plants in full sun that will scorch their foliage. Remove yellow or dried leaves to keep it tidy. Be aware that too little water, too low humidity, too much salts and excess fluorides in the water can cause leaf tips to turn brown. Mist leaves occasionally and preferably water them with rain water or aquarium water. Fertilize sparingly as excess nutrients can retard its ability to produce more plantlets. Plants are susceptible to root rot if waterlogged, otherwise they are least bothered by pests and diseases!
- For temperate zones: Hardiness – USDA Zone 8-11. More information here.
There are many cultivars of Chlorophytum comosum, but the most widely grown are the variegated cultivars ‘Vittatum’ and ‘Variegatum’. Listed below are some known cultivars:
- Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’ (White Spider) – has medium to dark green broad leaves with white stripes on the leaf margins. It is the commonest of the white margined cultivars. It is vigorous, producing large clumps very quickly but sends out far less stalks of flowers/plantlets than other cultivars. Flowering stem is green. It is a smaller cultivar than ‘Vittatum’.
- Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’ (Variegated Spider Plant) – has long recurved medium green leaves with a broad central white stripe. This is the most commonly grown spider plant as a houseplant. Fast growing with long cascading foliage and yellow flowering stalks. Perfect for hanging baskets.
- Chlorophytum comosum ‘Bonnie’ (Curly Spider Plant) – has the traditional green with white stripe variegation of the ‘Vittatum’ but with uniquely attractive leaves that curl and swirl. It is characterized by its rounded and compact plant habit. Flowering stalks are yellow and plantlets are as curly or curlier than the parent. Read somewhere that the amount of curl in the leaves is strongly dependant on the growing conditions. A slightly neglected or stressed plant will produce a curlier result than a well-nourished plant that will have straighter leaves. Hmm…this makes me wonder whether our Spider Plants that we thought were ‘Bonnie’ are actually ‘Vittatum’? ;-)
- Chlorophytum comosum ‘Streaker’ (Striped Airplane Plant) – unlike ‘Vittatum’, has deep green leaves with a single very bright narrow ivory stripe down the center.
- Chlorophytum comosum ‘Mandaianum’ (Yellow Spider/Golden Ribbon Plant) – is a dwarf Spider Plant with short leaves of 10-15 cm (4-6 ins) long, dark green with either a central white/yellow stripe or yellow margins.
- More Chlorophytum seen here with images!
Here’s an educative link on spider plants to browse where Ron Smith, Horticulturist of NDSU Extension Service provides answers to various questions on them.
Spider Plants are such common and popular houseplant. We just love these easy-growing and easy-care plants! Brightening our garden are two cultivars of Chlorophytum comosum – ‘Vittatum’ (definitely not ‘Bonnie’ as was mistaken earlier) and ‘Streaker’.
The best thing is they are so easily propagated from the abundant baby spiders (plantlets) readily produced by the parent plant – sort of buy one and get countless for free, isn’t that awesome? :D And even better is their ability to purify and freshen the air inside and around our home! Thus, it’s inevitable that we grow so many plants, usually in hanging pots practically everywhere. Moreover, Spider Plants are so beautiful, especially in hanging pots/baskets with their gracefully cascading foliage, and together with their arching wiry yellow stalks of tiny flowers and lovely baby spiders that ‘float’ around, they create a marvelous fountain effect!
Besides these beauties, we grow Chlorophytum laxum ‘Bichetti’, another lovely species of the genus, Chlorophytum. Beautiful in its own sweetness even though it does not produce arching stolons with dancing baby spiders!
Last edited: June 17, 2009