Brandon's always had spider plants around him, different varieties, in fact. But, he's now got some in his bedroom and they are amazing!
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.
- There's no real observable change week-to-week with most cacti, as they grow extremely slowly, and this can kill the early excitement of having a new hobby.
Don't get me wrong though, spider plants also have certain conditions under which they thrive. There are other conditions where they simply survive with little care and, in the worst case, 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, or you could grow them in tiny pots to use 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 would depend 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.
I was new to town and did not know many people, so I ended up buying a spider plant. Every other time, someone ended up giving me an almost fully grown plant (I have moved a lot). It was really tiny. Fast forward a few years, and I've grown a few more from the plantlets this plant grew out.
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 ended up watering twice a week such 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).
Note: 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 did due to lower or harsher sunlight among other conditions.
A few months after planting, when the plant has a decent mass of foliage, you will notice that the plant 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 even come across the tubers I hinted at earlier in this article. These store water among other things, and therefore larger plants tend to require less frequent watering. 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. Depending on how strong your winter is, spider plants tend to reduce their growth rate; in some cases, drastically.
My plantlet was already relatively large by the first winter, and 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 did cause brown tips on all the leaves though. More on this below.
How Often Is 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.
- Large plants: Twice in three weeks generally works out to be perfect.
Overwatering a spider plant is worse than underwatering, because they are susceptible to root rot, which in extreme cases leads 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, it makes it very easy for root rot to catch on.
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 it's almost completely dry to touch, it could use some water.
Issues You May Come Across
I could think of a few issues that you may come across that are related to watering.
Spider plants grow best (aesthetically) when they are pot bound. Once they do not really have the space to expand, they tend to produce a lot of plantlets. Do not put them into tiny pots expecting them to grow a lot of plantlets. Unfortunately, it does not work that way.
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. It is a good time to think about repotting or trimming the roots and thinning the foliage before replanting in the same pot.
I've already mentioned the instance of browning tips on my spider plant when I returned from my Christmas vacation. This is something that can happen when you underwater your plant. There is no cure to this, but when watered right, the new leaves will not be affected.
I have personally not come across this situation, but I have read that this can also be caused by overwatering. This can also be caused by excess fertilization.
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 (buying or making your own) or if you do not have access to rainwater. I have personally had this problem in the past and the plant continued to grow well—the tips were slightly browned, but it was not life-threatening.
Bacterial Leaf Blight
This is not directly related to watering, but it 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 this helps 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.
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.