Brandon has always had spider plants around— different varieties, in fact. He's now got some in his bedroom and they are beautiful!
The spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) which is one of the most popular indoor plants can be found in homes across the world. The multiple names it is known by attests to this fact. I recently found out that it's also called the airplane plant. I wonder why? It's definitely managed to spread its wings across the globe, that's for sure. It is, however, native to tropical and southern Africa and is adapted to grow under a canopy, thus requiring bright conditions but not strong and direct sunlight.
Importance of Light for Spider Plants
There is a lot of false information out there regarding spider plants and their light requirements. Before looking into answering specific questions, it is first vital to understand why spider plants or plants, in general, need light in the first place.
Many people believe that adding fertilizer and watering a plant is sufficient for it to grow and thrive as long as the plant isn't in complete darkness. There is a sadly popular misconception that fertilizer is equivalent to plant food. This is far from the truth. Fertilizer acts as a supplement providing vital nutrients to the plant, but without energy (food) the plant cannot grow. It could survive, for a short while, but it would not be able to grow.
Plants are capable of producing energy through a process known as photosynthesis where they use water in the presence of carbon dioxide and sunlight to synthesize sugars. It is worth noting that sunlight is not necessary, but certain wavelengths of light must be present. This is why grow lights or LEDs work pretty well as a replacement to sunlight for indoor plants.
How Much Light Do Spider Plants Need
As discussed in the introduction, spider plants thrive under canopies and thus prefer bright but not direct sunlight. They need anywhere between 6 to 8 hours of natural sunlight each day. The stripes on the leaves are more prominent under bright indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and dry the soil. This imbalance can in some cases lead to brown tips on the leaves.
Note: It is vital to realize that when I say they do not like direct sunlight this is with reference to direct sunlight at the equator. The further north or south you travel they become more and more tolerant to direct sunlight. But it is always best to try and protect them from the direct mid-day sun.
When it comes to artificial lights of any kind I would personally suggest at least 4 to 6 hours. I suggest a lower minimum in this case as it is more likely that the source is a bit more "direct" and some lights can be harsh.
Best Spot for Spider Plants
Spider plants flourish in almost any room of the house and under some circumstances also outdoors. The key is to provide them with a sufficient amount of filtered or indirect sunlight, medium to high humidity, and stable indoor temperatures. Anything that is good for you when it comes to temperatures is good for spider plants.
Southern windows tend to receive the strongest direct sunlight. It is therefore suggested, in this case, to place the plant at least a few feet away from the window.
Signs That the Plant Is Receiving Too Much or Too Little Sunlight
There are a few signs that you could look out for if you needed to determine whether your spider plant is receiving too much sun:
- Yellowing of the leaves (not just the older leaves)
- Leaf burn and brown patches
- Curling and drooping of the leaves
Curling and drooping can also be caused by underwatering and it may have nothing to do with the amount of sunlight the plant receives. Check out my guide on watering spider plants if you are interested in some best practices.
A spider plant that does not receive a sufficient amount of light would show the following symptoms:
- Weaker foliage
- Reduced-intensity of the green parts of the leaves
- Stunted growth
Testing Plants in a Room Without a Window
Myth: Windows Are Not a Necessity
Plenty of people grow spider plants in rooms without a window, that is, rooms where there is darkness in the absence of artificial light. This is the case in the bathrooms of some homes. The spider plants in these rooms seem to be all fine and dandy, but on closer inspection, they do not really grow. There may be a few new leaves here and there, but the plant does not thrive and it, therefore, does not look as good as a plant grown in brighter conditions.
Whenever the bathroom light turns on, the plant begins producing sugars that are mainly stored and not directly utilized. Only when the plant has stored a sufficient amount does it sprout new leaves. It could therefore grow well if the bathroom light is on a lot.
If you are just looking to have a decorative plant there is in principle no harm in keeping a spider plant in a relatively dark room provided it has at least a few hours of artificial light each day.
P.S: If you watched the video above you may say that the spider plant looked perfect after 30 days. This is due to the fact that they had a light on quite a bit and more importantly because they only conducted their experiment for a month.
Tip: When growing in bathrooms or other rooms that do not have natural sunlight, move the plant to or near a window at least once a week. It would then continue to look fresh even when placed in a room that does not receive a lot of light.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.