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The nicest kind of spider
Member Name: Stewwydablue
Advantages: Low maintenance, gives you lots of potential new plants
Disadvantages: None of note
If you own more than a couple of house plants, the chances are you can probably count a spider plant amongst your collection. They're everywhere once you start to look for them, in offices, public buildings, living rooms, bathrooms etc. They are very popular for lots of reasons, hopefully I'll explain why below.
The easiest (but not the cheapest) way to have a spider plant is to buy one from a garden centre, or you sometimes see them for sale at car-boot sales or on market stalls which is undoubtedly cheaper. Cheaper still than buying a plant is to try to grow from seed, although it is tricky as germination is erratic and if you're waiting for your existing spider plant to flower, then you might have a good few years to wait as they don't flower often. The best way to propagate more plants from an existing plant is to pot the small plantlets that grow on runners - of which spider plants throw out loads - and separate them from the mother plant once they start to grow their own roots. My mother-in-law has a spider plant on which I've counted 14 runners - that's potentially 14 new plants you can get for free, then in turn, each one of those new plants will throw out their own runners and so on and so on until your house is re-named as the northern branch of the Eden Project and you have parking issues on your street as coach loads of eco-tourists turn up to traipse into your spider plant filled conservatory.
I usually snip some of my runners off to keep the plant looking tidy, but the ones I do leave are pegged down onto a small pot of compost until they start to grow under their own steam. These are then cut off and the pots placed on spare window ledges and shelves in the house, or sometimes I give them away. I keep meaning to go spider plant propagation crazy one year and sell the resulting baby plants on a car-boot sale - I nearly always see someone selling them with tomato plant seedlings and baby strawberry plants (which are also propagated from runners) and they seem to do well.
They are a good houseplant and seem to do well in most indoor conditions (shade, light etc) but I wouldn't recommend planting them outside as they are native to South Arica and wouldn't cope with our freezing winters. They respond well to a general purpose liquid feed every other week in the summer and a splash of water in the warmer months, but hold off with both over winter.
Here's a good tip - place your spider plants high up and leave the runners to grow. This will give you a cascading green waterfall effect that covers up boring corner dressers or bare walls underneath shelves, or looks good when put in an indoor hanging basket and allowed to spill out and hang down. Given a basic level of care, spider plants will last for years.
PESTS AND DISEASES COMMON TO SPIDERPLANTS
They are relatively disease free; the only sign of ill health you might see is yellowing of the leaves if the plant is overwatered. If this happens, ease off with the water until the plant recovers. I water by eye - when I see the plant starting to "drop", I give it little drink. Conversely, browning leaves means that the plant is too dry so give them more water accordingly or make sure it isn't sitting in direct sunlight from a south facing window. Also, there aren't many pests that are attracted to spider plants, especially as they are kept indoors. If however, you do see an infestation of greenfly or small fruit flies, give the plant a spray with soapy water and this will suffocate the pests.
The most popular varieties available are variegated (which in other words means that they have different coloured stripes on the leaves) and include white, green and yellow stripes on their leaves. In the wild, most spider plants are a plain green, but as the variegated types look more attractive in the home and therefore are more popular sellers at garden centres, the plain green varieties are hard to find. The most common types of spider plant available in the UK include White Stripe and Laxum. You shouldn't really have to pay more than £2 for a spider plant, but as I said before the best way is to get them for free by propagating a plantlet from a friend or neighbour's plant.
SPIDERPLANTS ARE USEFUL BECAUSE....
Spider plants will clean the air in your home - they filter out airborne pollutants that are harmful to us and convert them into energy to sustain its growth. Some of the pollutants that they can filter out include benzene and formaldehyde - which are incidentally found in exhaled cigarette smoke. I can't give any figures, but surely if you have quite a few you in a room your body can only benefit from the improvement to the air quality that they make.
So, they clean the air, require minimal care and are prolific growers that are easy to propagate. Even those with brown thumbs could keep a spider plant alive. For their easiness to keep and propagate, cheapness, and their look I give the spider plant 5 stars. Thanks for reading.
Summary: Cheap and cheerful house plant