What is a Spider Plant?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A spider plant is a houseplant famous for its virtual indestructibility and ease of propagation. Spider plants are grown in households all over the world, and they also do well in many gardens, depending on the zone in which the garden is located. Many garden supply and plant stores carry spider plants, and people also exchange spider plant babies with each other, taking advantage of the plant's readiness to duplicate itself.

Spider plants can be misted with a water sprayer.
Spider plants can be misted with a water sprayer.

This plant is more formally known as Chlorophytum comosum. It has a central cluster of blade-like leaves which put out white to yellow stems that develop a sprawling growth habit. The stems periodically flower, creating nodules with new leaf growth, and the nodules will eventually generate adventitious roots, becoming entirely independent plants. Some people like to allow the stems to trail with their new growth rather than separating out the baby spider plants, creating a cascade of foliage.

Spider plants are native to Africa, but they grow in a wide variety of conditions. The plants tend to prefer strong indirect light and periodic watering, with a fertilizing every now and then. Excessive sunlight and too much water can kill a spider plant, but this can take a long time, and it takes serious effort on the part of a gardener to totally kill a Chlorophytum comosum, thanks to the natural hardiness of this plant species. This makes spider plants popular in offices and common areas, regions where plants often suffer from neglect.

Most spider plants sold and cultivated as houseplants have green leaves striped with white or yellow. The flowers are small and delicate, with a cream to yellow color, and the plant tends to flower and produce new shoots in the fall. In a household where temperature and lighting conditions remain stable throughout the year, moving a spiderplant to a cooler, darker location can encourage it to produce new growth.

Spider plants tend to grow best when they have room to spread. Upper reaches of shelving and refrigerators are classic locations for a spider plant, since the high altitude allows the plant's stems to droop down towards the floor. As the baby spider plants appear, they can be left on the stem, or placed in pots filled with soil and a light fertilizer until they root, at which point the stem can be cut and the baby spider plant can be moved to another location in the house, or given away.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@Iluviaporos - Well, I didn't really like them when I was a kid.

I found them kind of boring. I liked growing things that I could eat, or things that grew flowers that I could admire or give away. For a while I even had a few fruit trees and would sell the fruit at our front gate.

I think that it depends on how the kid is brought up though. If you've lived in an urban environment, with no opportunities to grow anything, you might be absolutely thrilled with the chance to grow even house plants.

But, if you've been watching your parents grow things and garden since you were little, you probably aren't going to be content with a spider plant.


I was very impressed with spider plants when I was a kid. One of my friends gave me a couple of them and they grew fast enough to keep my interest, which was a first for a plant.

Plus they were very forgiving when it came to being neglected, which is pretty important when it comes to being my houseplant.

I was especially delighted when my flowering spider plants started producing little baby spider plants and I was able to start giving them away to other people.

Of course, it's pretty hard to find anyone who doesn't have a spider plant, so I was turned down for the most part.

But overall, I'd say it's a very good plant to give your kids, if they express any interest.


nice article....


A good indoor plant, not only for decor but also as a natural air cleaner.

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