New To Houseplants, Spider Plants

(Ang) Bremerton, WA(Zone 8b)

My mom and nana had loads of house plants growing up. I remember one they both had, I believe, was a spider plant. I had been toying with the idea of adding a house plant and then my neighbor gave me some of her Spider babies. Of the many, one has survived the wrath of my cat and it is because she is all up in a hanging basket now. My first lesson in gardening with cats lol.

The baby is receiving some much needed care, as my son pulled down her pot. After potting her into a way smaller pot she's doing great and I've since then I've added a few more ...Variegated Bonnie, All Green, White Edged/Green Center, and now an Airplane.

I've noticed some problems on the plants, some I posted about. I searched the topic on here and followed some links posted.
I read on here or another website to pull them out and check the roots. I spotted that the soil wasn't doing what it should and the roots weren't looking good. I rinsed the bad soil off, trimmed the bad roots off, and repotted in recommended potting soil with added drainage. Most the plants were like this and all have dramatically improved.

The newest one was sort of difficult. I was going to wait to re-pot it but when I went to water I noticed it had no drainage holes. So I popped her out, with much difficulty, and found out a plastic disk was stuck in her roots to prevent her from draining. I removed it, re-potted it, and then watered.

Because gnats are an issue where I live, I made sure I knew the watering information. I also added a layer of sand and gravel to the top to prevent new gnats laying eggs. So far so good!

Some have perked up and are sending out new shoots. There are few concerns though such as spots on the leaves of my new one. I'll add a picture if anyone would like to see the spot, it's not show on this photo I don't think.

Thumbnail by tikipod
Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

Even if you were able to 'dispense' water in such a manner that the soil wouldn't become saturated at the bottom, accumulating salts from fertilizing and your tap water will soon become an issue. The 'salts' issue is a huge killer of plants, or an impediment to a large % of growers having plants that grow to their genetic potential, within the limits of other cultural factors .... and spider plants are PARTICULARLY sensitive to high levels of solubles. Fast soils and frequent low doses of fertilizers is the best strategy for most houseplants - spiders included.

Something I wrote on another thread:

Your plant does not tolerate high levels of soluble salts in the soil, which tend to accumulate during the winter because most bagged soils will not allow us to water copiously enough to flush these salts from the soil without risking root rot. The plant is rather easy to keep attractive (w/o the burned leaf tips/margins if you use a very fast soil and water appropriately.

Something I wrote for another forum:

I left the following on this forum recently. You may find something of value in it:

While necrotic leaf tips or margins can occur in this plant from over/under-watering, in fact, it's much more common for the actual cause to be a high level of soluble salts in soils. It's also commonly reported that this plant is particularly intolerant or fluoride, but it's still more common for the cause of leaf burn to be a high level of solubles, to which fluoride can be a contributor, than it is to be fluoride itself. WHEN there is a high level of salts in the soil, low humidity can be a contributor, but low humidity alone rarely presents an issue, it must be in combination with a high level of soluble salts in the soil or either over/under-watering.

Of course, you cannot correct the already burned tips (they won't 'heal'), but you can take steps to keep it from happening:

A) Most important is to use a soil that drains very freely. This allows you to water copiously, flushing the accumulating salts from the soil each time you water.

B) Fertilize frequently when the plant is growing well, but at low doses - perhaps 1/4 the recommended strength. This, in combination with the favorable watering habit described above, will keep soluble salts levels low, and keep levels from rising due to the accumulative effect we always see when we are forced to water in sips when plants are in water-retentive soils.

C) When watering, using rainwater, snow melt, water from your dehumidifiers, or distilled water also eliminates the soluble salts in your tap water and will go a long way toward eliminating or minimizing leaf burn.

D) If you make your own soils and use perlite, be sure the perlite is rinsed thoroughly, which removes most of the fluorides associated with it's use.

E) Allowing water to rest overnight doesn't do anything in the way of helping reduce the amount of fluoride (the compounds are not volatile), and it only helps with chlorine in certain cases, depending on what method of chlorination was used to treat your tap water.

You might also find this of interest:


(Ang) Bremerton, WA(Zone 8b)

Thanks Al, I've read this information after searching DavesGarden. I think you replied to someone with it? I think I'll print all the information and thank you for sharing the link, I did find it interesting!

I bought a bottle of distilled water since we aren't allowed to collect rain water. The new one isn't due for water yet but I did water the others with it though. My dad suggested we get a fish tank after I read people using that ... I'm hoping he's joking.

I did water it with regular water when I re-potted it but I'm adding a picture to make sure it's what you're talking about. Do you think it would be acceptable to use a brita pitcher or a faucet filter? Our water doesn't contain fluoride.

Relating to soil, I didn't know what to use. I found a page of q&a with a horticulturist about Spider plants and he mentioned using African Violet mix so that's what I'm using. I'm not familiar with mixing my own and I'm not sure what to use. Do you have a recipe or recommend a specific mix?

As for fertilizer someone suggested African Violet fertilizer. Should I use a different one?

So far my plants are enjoying the mix and they are perking up. I'm noticing lots of new growth, even the one my neighbor gave me. The new one hasn't been in my care long, maybe 3 days and the brown spots were there when I bought them. I'm familiar with the tips being brown but this is in the middle of the leave on the edge.

Thumbnail by tikipod
Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

I do use soils I make myself ..... haven't used a commercially prepared soil in well over 15 years. More about it here:

As far as fertilizer, any soluble fertilizer in the 3:1:2 ratio is as close as you can get to supplying nutrients in the ratio plants actually use. This allows you to keep o/a soluble salt levels at the lowest level possible w/o nutritional deficiencies - a plus for all plants, but particularly plants like spiders that rebel at anything other than low levels of soluble salts.

BTW - activated charcoal filters (especially like those sold to treat tap water) do not remove fluoride or other negatively charged ions - they don't react with either the charcoal or the ion exchange resins in the filters. This type of filter primarily removes larger organic molecules that make water taste/smell bad, but the dissolved solids pass right through.


(Ang) Bremerton, WA(Zone 8b)

I thought I'd add an update here:

After posting this I noticed two things. 1. The one pictured above was actually doing better than some of the other plants. 2. My curly Bonnie was in really really bad shape. I wound up doing some closer inspecting and going with my gut instinct.

First: I modified my watering. For some I wasn't watering enough and for others I was watering enough but I wasn't distributing it properly.
example: With the one pictured above I noticed there seemed to be 6 plants in that pot and the center plant was the one with the brown leaves. It just didn't get enough water each time I watered.

Second: I noticed I had visible drainage problems. Either water came out too quickly or not at all. One pot I just couldn't water because the sand on top of the soil was wet.
The remainder of my garden budget is reserved for soil ingredients and a planter, so I took what I had and did the best I could. It seems to be doing a good job as it's all draining well now.
At the time of the repotting I also divided my spider plants and trimmed some of the broke/damaged leaves off. This was a gut instinct and has turned out to be a good one. My Bonnie had rocks in the roots and has benefited the most from being divided. The one pictured above had a second plastic tray in the roots and has drastically improved.

Third: I started wondering if they were getting enough light. I've moved them to the corner windows in my living room. One window faces south and a covered patio and the other faces west, but we have blinds so the plants won't get direct sun. During winter I will move them over so they aren't receiving the drafts that may come from the window.

I'm not done yet but it's an improvement. I still have more reading to do and soil ingredients to find.

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

A well-aerated and long lasting soil can make a world of difference in how much effort it requires to maintain your plants and in YOUR margin for error. The soil is the very foundation of every planting, and like a house, it's difficult to build something sound on a poor foundation. Roots are the heart of the plant - the top only THINKS it's in charge. Take care of those roots. Good luck!!! ;o)


(Ang) Bremerton, WA(Zone 8b)

Since I can't seem to find the Turface my goal is to order it online with my fall-winter garden budget and make your second recipe before then.

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

If you're interested, I can hook you up with sources in Tacoma, Seattle, Kent, Issaquah, Woodinville ....


(Ang) Bremerton, WA(Zone 8b)

Quote from tapla :
If you're interested, I can hook you up with sources in Tacoma, Seattle, Kent, Issaquah, Woodinville ....



Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

Tacoma: John Deere Landscapes, (253) 537-0588
Seattle: Dorsett & Jackson (see Bev Spears) (800) 871-8365
Kent: John Deere Landscapes, (253) 395-0180
Issaquah: John Deere Landscapes (425) 557-3400

Ask for 'Allsport or Turface MVP'. Also check out Ewing Irrigation locations near you. They carry it, too.


This message was edited Jun 26, 2010 3:11 PM

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