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What is Chlorophytum?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2016
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Chlorophytum is a genus of plants native to Africa and parts of Asia, where they grow in tropical and subtropical regions. C. comosum or “spider plant” is a popular houseplant and several other species are grown in cultivation for houseplants and gardens. Many nurseries stock Chlorophytum and gardeners can also grow the plants from plantlets or “babies” produced on the panicles of adult plants kept by other gardeners. These plants are famously very easy to grow and are excellent choices for people who cannot pay close attention to houseplants, but who want foliage around the house or office.

Plants in this genus have long, grasslike leaves with green and white to yellow stripes. The plants produce long trailing stalks called panicles with small white flowers, and sometimes plantlets sprout on the panicles. If the plantlets come into contact with the ground, they will root. People can clip the panicle to separate a plantlet and root it in a new pot, although gardeners with overly productive plants may have difficulty rehoming the baby plants once friends and neighbors have received their fill.

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Chlorophytum plants do very well in hanging baskets as trailing plants. They can be grown indoors in most regions of the world, and can grow outdoors anywhere the weather is temperate to tropical, as they can thrive in cold as long as no prolonged frosts occur. Indoors or outdoors, Chlorophytum prefers moist soil, especially in the summer months, and it likes bright indirect light. However, the plants can grow in shade as well.

These plants are very resistant to neglect. Prolonged periods of underwatering can cause the leaves to brown and curl at the tips, but usually watering again will allow the plant to perk up. Likewise, while the plants prefer fertile soil, they can grow in adverse soil conditions. Direct sunlight will burn the leaves if they are exposed for extended periods, but if the plant is moved or shaded, it should recover, although the damaged foliage may brown and drop off.

Indoors, Chlorophytum can thrive in most areas of the house. Outdoors, the plant can be used for beds and borders. It will spread readily if it likes the environment where it is growing and gardeners may want to remain alert to developing plantlets to control the growth of the plant. Gardeners interested in cultivating Chlorophytum can easily root plantlets in new containers or in other areas of the garden.

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