Brandon has always had spider plants around— different varieties, in fact. He's now got some in his bedroom and they are beautiful!
Spider plants are extremely easy to grow and are, in my opinion, a perfect choice for anyone looking to take up gardening as a hobby—or even if you just want some greenery indoors. Many people recommend cacti, but I do not for two reasons:
- Overwatering can kill some varieties of cacti very easily, and beginners love to water their plants. Spider plants are easy and fun to water.
- There's no real observable change week-to-week with most cacti, as they grow extremely slowly. This can limit the excitement of your new hobby. A spider plant grows quickly, however, and this transformation is extremely gratifying to watch.
Don't get me wrong, though: There are certain conditions that make it difficult for spider plants to thrive. There are also some conditions in which they simply survive. Under some conditions, they could die—maybe due to root rot, which occurs when they are overwatered for extended periods.
Pro Tip: Spider plants grow plantlets that are attached to the main plant. These can easily be used to grow new plants to spread around your home and garden. You could grow them in tiny pots to give as simple yet meaningful gifts.
How Much Water Does a Spider Plant Need?
There's no fixed answer to this question because the amount of water it requires depends not just on location and soil type, but also on the time of the year and the stage of growth. Don't worry though, as this guide is written to help you determine just how much water your plant requires.
Young Spider Plantlets
I was new to town and did not know many people, so I ended up buying a spider plant. It was really tiny. Fast forward a few years, and I've grown a few more from the plantlets this plant grew out.
Summer Watering Schedule
What I noticed is that during the summer months, the small plantlets use up a lot of water while they grow new leaves and large tuber-like roots below the soil. I watered twice a week, enough so that water drained out of the bottom of the container. The plants loved this and grew really well and fast. This is, therefore, something you could emulate if you've got young plants in a pot with room to grow (root expansion).
How Do You Know It's Time to Water?
Make sure that the soil has dried out before you water again. Do not blindly water twice a week. You may not need such frequent watering if your soil retains a lot of water or if your plant is just not growing as fast as mine does.
The Finger Test
If you are not sure if the soil is still moist or not, poke a finger into the top inch. If it is slightly damp, wait a few more days and try again. If the soil is almost completely dry to the touch, your plant could use some water.
Larger Spider Plants
When the plant has grown a decent mass of foliage, you may notice that it has taken over the pot, with roots spreading all around. This may only become apparent if you dig up the soil a little. You may come across the tubers I mentioned earlier. The tubers store water (among other things) and this is why larger plants tend to require less frequent watering.
How Often to Water a Large Spider Plant During Summer
During the summer, I water once a week and add in some liquid fertilizer every month. Many people suggest adding fertilizer every two weeks.
Summer vs. Winter
We've already spoken about summer plant care, so let's talk about winter. Of course it depends on how cold your winter is but in general, spider plants tend to reduce their growth rate in winter; in some cases, drastically, and for this reason, they will require less water.
My plantlet was already relatively large by the first winter, so I ended up watering every week and a half or so. It also survived three weeks without watering when I went home for Christmas. (This interruption did cause brown tips on all the leaves, however. Learn more on this below.)
How Often Is Too Often?
If you see signs of root rot or browning tips, you may be watering too much and/or too often. To summarise the above, this is typically how often you need to water your spider plant:
- Young plantlets: Approximately twice a week during the summer, less in colder months.
- Large plants: Approximately twice every three weeks during summer, less in colder months.
Avoiding Root Rot
Overwatering a spider plant is worse than underwatering, because they are susceptible to root rot, which can lead to death.
They love it when the soil dries out between waterings, as their roots store sufficient water for these periods. The problem with overwatering arises because their tubers are soft and, when placed in constantly drenched soil, this makes it very easy for root rot to begin.
Issues You May Come Across
I could think of a few issues that you may come across that are related to watering.
Crowded Roots: Good or Bad?
Spider plants grow best (aesthetically) when they are pot-bound. In other words, they like to have their roots a little crowded in the pot. When they no longer have the space to expand, they tend to produce a lot of plantlets. (Note: Do not put them into tiny pots expecting them to grow a lot of plantlets. Unfortunately, it does not work that way.)
When to Re-Pot Your Spider Plant
You may come across a situation where water does not soak through the soil anymore and tends to puddle on the top for quite a while before finally seeping through. . . or not seeping through at all. This is caused when the roots fill up the pot so much that the water can no longer be absorbed. If this happens, it is a good time to think about repotting or trimming the roots and thinning the foliage before replanting in the same pot.
Reasons for Brown Tips on Leaves
Underwatering. I've already mentioned the instance of browning tips on my spider plant when I returned from my Christmas vacation. Brown tips is something that can happen when you underwater your plant. There is no cure for this, but when watered right, the new leaves were not affected.
Excess Water or Fertilization. Brown leaves can also be caused by overwatering or by excess fertilization.
Fluorides. The other instance where you end up with brown tips is when your water contains fluorides. The workaround is to use rainwater or distilled water. I would not worry too much about this if distilled water is expensive or if you do not have access to rainwater. I have personally had this problem in the past. Although I didn't switch to distilled water, the plant continued to grow well—the tips were slightly browned, but it was not life-threatening.
Sunlight. Strong direct sunlight can lead to excess transpiration and in the case of a higher than optimal salt/fertilizer concentration more water (due to the increased transpiration) along with dissolved nutrients are taken up which could result in brown tips. My article on spider plant light requirements dives deeper into this particular subject.
Also, check out my in-depth article on brown tips on spider plants which is a thorough guide on the topic and provides hints on how you can prevent and overcome this issue.
Brown Spots and Patches
This is not directly related to watering, but bacterial leaf blight also results in brown spots and brown patches on the leaves. This browning, however, is not only on the tips. If you notice this, cut off the affected leaves.
It is always a good idea to water directly onto the soil and not to wet the leaves, as soggy leaves help spread bacterial leaf blight if your plant is already susceptible to it.
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.
© 2020 Brandon Lobo
Brandon Lobo (author) on August 27, 2020:
Hi Gregg, that's quite impressive. I really have no clue how long they can live, but I am not surprised that they have lasted this long as perennial plants do have long life spans. I'm sure they still look healthy.
Gregg S. on August 27, 2020:
I have 2 spider plants in my bathroom that have skylights above I water them 1 time per week. One of the spider plants hung in my house in 1978. I took this plant to college with me in 1980 and made a 2nd plant from it’s plantlet. I have taken both plants to 5 different apartments, townhomes and finally my house for the past 22 years! They are 42 and 40 years old and doing quite well. Any idea how long they can live?
Brandon Lobo (author) on May 11, 2020:
That's sweet. Enjoy your new plant.
Norma Brett on May 11, 2020:
Very helpful -- just had one given me for mother's day -- thanks for the video it really helped me ...
Brandon Lobo (author) on April 21, 2020:
Hi Liz, thanks for the comment. They are definitely low maintenance plants. They are also rated among the best indoor plants one can have.
Liz Westwood from UK on April 21, 2020:
This is a great guide to keeping spider plants. They sound like my kind of plant, fairly low maintenance. You have made me consider them as a good option next time I look for plants.
Brandon Lobo (author) on April 20, 2020:
Wow! 20 years is a long time. Growing and producing plantlets around the mirror in your hall must make it look really pretty.
Do you happen to fertilize it at all? Back home, when I was a kid we never really fertilized our plants and they were always lush green. We did repot with fresh soil every few years though.
Diana Grant from United Kingdom on April 20, 2020:
I have a spider plant which has been kept on the window ledge by my front door for about 20 years. It never gets the sun, and I water it intermittently when I remember - sometimes once a week, other times once every 3 weeks. I remove any dead leaves, and it continues to sprout and grow round the corner, over the hall mirror, constantly producing new plantlets.