The Q&A Archives: Spider Plant

Question: I bought a plant that I remember my mother used to have. She called it a "spider plant". She would get the "babies" to grow. How do I do that? First, what is the proper name for this plant? It has thin green and white striped leaves and shoots that hang down with the "babies" on it. My plant has at least 60 of these "babies" hanging (from ten shoots). When are they ready to separate from the Mother plant? The shoot part is a pale orange tubular thing. One shoot broke off and I put it in water in a vase in a brown bag along with some of the separated babies. Is that okay? How long do these plants last? What are the details?

Answer: Chlorophytum comosum vittatum is the botanical name of your plant, which probably explains why most people call it simply Spider Plant. It has been grown as in indoor plant for over 200 years. The mother plant produces bably plantlets that can be allowed to remain, or removed and used to make new plants. Spider plant will grow in hot or cool rooms, in sun or shade, in dry or humid air.

You can cut the baby plants away from the mother and root them in water, or peg them down in the potting soil, where they will root and can then be separated.

I have a plant on a table top. Whenever the spider stems grow long enough to reach the top of the table, I prop the little spiders up on the surface of a pot filled with moistened potting soil. They root readily. Once new growth begins to appear from the center of the baby plant I know it has rooted and I cut the stem connecting it to the mother plant.

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