Houseplants forum: Help with my (sad) Spider Plant

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Name: Pradhan Balter
Chicago
pradhansb
Nov 18, 2015 8:28 AM CST
I have an indoor plant wall, a dozen different plants, all doing extremely well. Because I have very little natural light, I have a high quality grow light. All the plants are happy save for 1 plant that someone gave me as a gift...a very productive variegated spider plant. When it first arrived, if was obviously healthy..bright green with spiderettes galore...at least 50 of them. The spiderettes had spiderettes, just a lovely plant. Well, almost from day 1 the plant has gone down-hill. At first, leaves on the mother plant were turning yellow and softening. I read "over-watering". Okay...I let it go to just about dry and then watered. Slowly, the spiderettes starting to die. The lowest-most ones thinned out, dried and turned totally brown. The mother continued to degrade. I am hoping to save the plant and bring it back to its former beauty. Currently, it gets about 1.5 hours of grow light. I sprayed the spiderettes regularly. Is it possible that the spiderettes actually drain nourishment? Should I cut them all back so that the mother can recover? Do spider plants not like grow-lights? I just cleaned off all the dead and thin legs, but am at a loss as to what to do now. I have uploaded a picture, and while it doesn't look that bad, believe me, it's a third its original density and its lost its brightness totally. Thanks for any help.
Thumb of 2015-11-18/pradhansb/bdb319

Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Nov 18, 2015 10:47 AM CST
Hello pradhansb Smiling

When you got the plant, did you repot it? If not, and you think mommy plant is dying, I would check the condition of the roots. This plant is quite drought tolerant with very fat roots, that is why you were advised about overwatering. Since it is indoors, and can take low light, the drying time after watering gets longer. So you really have to adjust and hold back watering. I will just snip off all the dried out leaves of mommy plant, and wait for it to recover. It should bounce back. But do check the condition of the roots, just to see how it is. It may also be too root bound already, so you may have to consider repotting. Typically I would do the repot in Spring, but you grow it indoors anyways, so your growing conditions will be more controllable.

No, those little babies does not drain energy on the plant as far as I know, I just keep mine growing till I snip them off and replant to balance the overall look of the plant. You may want to do that, replant some of the babies with good roots so you have a back-up in case the mother plant is indeed dying.

This is how the roots of a very mature spider plant looks like:

Thumb of 2015-11-18/tarev/4487e8

Name: Pradhan Balter
Chicago
pradhansb
Nov 18, 2015 4:43 PM CST
Thanks Tarev,

Never re-potted it.I guess re-potting is next. It was so vibrant when it arrived. Now it needs something...Any chance the artificial grow light may be too "intense" for the plant? It's only on for 1.5 hours a day which seems fine for all the other plants.

Pradhan
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Nov 18, 2015 5:10 PM CST
Spider plants grow in full sun here in Mississippi. I doubt any grow-light would be anywhere chose to sunlight.

Though you grow your plants indoors, it would be helpful if you would update your "Profile" and show where you live. Your location will then show in the upper right-hand corner any time you post.

I agree with everything that Tarev told you. She is right-on. Thumbs up
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Nov 18, 2015 5:46 PM CST
Hi Pradhan, I do not think it is the grow light, as Ken said spider plants can take full sun..my spider plants get those full sun light intensities too then some shade in the afternoon. If the plant previously came from a very high light area, then moved to a very low light area, the plant would surely pout. In the same manner, if from a low light and suddenly put in a very intense high light condition, those leaves will burn.

So rule out the possible issues it has, check the roots, repot if needed, adjust and give good intervals in watering and allow the plant to acclimate to your growing set-up.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
Nov 19, 2015 12:41 PM CST
The photo does not enlarge so it's difficult to see the plant clearly but another thing that might be a cause for concern is that the plant may need a larger container. tarev showed a great photo of what healthy roots should look like. You might want to consider un-potting your plant and removing all old soil to take a look at the root system and then re-pot in a larger container with fresh potting medium.
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorophytum
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Name: Pradhan Balter
Chicago
pradhansb
Nov 19, 2015 3:02 PM CST
thank you all for your suggestions...
Pradhan
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
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tarev
Nov 19, 2015 10:24 PM CST
Do update us later Pradhan how it goes. Take photos of the roots, so you will have a reference point of its condition. If you still have good babies left stick them for now in some water, it will root and you can then move them to a better media later.
Name: Pradhan Balter
Chicago
pradhansb
Nov 20, 2015 7:46 AM CST
I think I've discovered part or maybe all of the problem. I brought the plant over to my florist-friend for repotting and he noted the soil was bone-dry. This, despite the fact that I had just watered the plant to seemingly saturation the day before. Apparently, the watering may have been just making its way around the edge of the pot but never getting the soil wet for drinking purposes. He informed me it wasn't uncommon. Anyway, we repotted with nice moist soil. I do hope "mom" revives. I will keep you all posted and thanks for your generous advice.

Pradhan
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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drdawg
Nov 20, 2015 8:24 AM CST
I have a feeling that she will now flourish. I also think that she was badly root-bound. I hope you up-potted.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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Name: Anna Z.
Monroe, WI
Charter ATP Member Greenhouse Cat Lover Raises cows Region: Wisconsin
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AnnaZ
Nov 20, 2015 9:33 AM CST
My spidies were lookin' pretty ugly this spring when I put them out..........dead leaves, dead babies, etc. After I put them out, watered and fertilized a bit, and they were in the rain............they started looking better. When I took them in this fall and put them in the g'house, pulled out the old leaves and cut off the dead "kids", they looked better. MUCH better, as they had started growing out new "stuff" over summer. I didn't repot; I'll see if that is needed as the winter goes on.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Nov 20, 2015 10:23 AM CST
When a potted plant gets too big for it's britches Green Grin! it becomes root-bound with a mass of roots filling up the container to where water runs off, not allowing enough moisture to get through to the root system. There's nothing wrong with root bound plants, they are usually very healthy ... the roots are just growing out, searching for moisture and sometimes end up in a tangled mass, filling the container. I've been guilty to the point of letting plants get so root bound that the roots actually split the plastic pots and there have even been times when a thick tap root will grow out the drainage hole and it's impossible to get the plant from it's container so I end up having to cut the pot down it's side to remove the plant or cut the tap root to be able to yank the plant out. In nature when plants are in the ground, the roots have room to spread out in search of water but when in a pot, over time (sometimes a very short period of time) the roots fill the pot and the water cannot soak through to the root system; that's when fresh soil and perhaps a larger container are needed.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
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tarev
Nov 20, 2015 10:32 AM CST
That is good to know Pradhan! Hope mommy plant recovers! It is a very resilient plant Smiling Good luck! Get photos now and later for your comparison Smiling

Anna, my spiders are like that too, so ratty looking as summer goes on, our area so hot and dry, but they perk up again as soon as the rains returns and the milder temps come about. I love this time of the year for them..Mother Nature waters them for me.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener Xeriscape
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tarev
Nov 20, 2015 10:40 AM CST
Yes, the spiders are quite okay being root bound, but water and air has to reach the roots. I grow one indoors with clay rocks and water and it thrives well, it has a reservoir that keeps some water below and overflow holes midway the container so the roots are able to drink the water below and still get good circulation. Plus, no fungus gnats! Smiling

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