Sunday, June 19, 2011

Spider Plant

Probably one of the easiest plants to grow besides the pothos is the spider plant. Both are considered houseplants, but did you know that in Tucson, you can plant them outdoors all year round depending on where you place them?  Here are some suggestions.  Most tropicals are placed into pots around our property, but with the spider plant and its many offshoots, I experiment a bit and put them into planters and garden beds. If I lose some, I lose some and it's no big deal since the mother plants produce many clones.   Most people have these plants in their homes or in pots outside, but in Tucson, you can actually, if the ground is amended, put these beautiful plants under trees or in a mostly to brightly shaded area where they will spread out as a groundcover(if you've planted a flower bed etc). In several spots here, they actually are a groundcover even though it wasn't planned for that to happen. For many years, I had my spiders outside and they were lush and full.  They put up with the occasional freeze here and there and ALWAYS rebounded back to healthy and tropical bushy displays.  I'd throw coffee grounds around the area because tropicals love a little extra love, but after this winter, I lost many colonies of spider plants.  In a post dated back around February or March, I wrote about having a Plan B.  Here is where a little organization will do a gardener well.  We had A LOT of baby spiders off of the mother plants and over the years, I have taken them off the main plant and put them into smaller pots.  During the freeze, I moved my potted spiders into our shed where they were protected.  Even after covering the mother spider plants, they still died. After the threat of our freezes were over, I moved my many "baby" spiders into the main planters where they will reestablish themselves into their former tropical glory.

If you like hanging these plants from pots outside, you must remember to keep them out of the sun or they will burn and die.   The sun should be filtered by a screen or by trees. My neighbor loved how they looked on her patio but was discouraged when the healthy plants died back quite a bit from the intense southern sun.  Of course, you can grow spiders in your home....well I can't because my cats pull them out of their pots, but I think they look really great outside in our larger planters at El Presidio(especially with other tropicals; this plant would act as a "spiller").  Picture it. Guadalajara, 1993, a young guy from a very cold Wisconsin studying abroad to become a Spanish language guru sitting outside under a large avocado tree watching a hot and humid monsoon storm angrily pass by.  He's sipping on a nice cold mojito and looks down at the flower beds and notices that spider plants are growing wildly around the courtyard. A lightbulb goes on in his head and stores it for later on in Tucson.  He experiments with this spider plant idea years afterwards and has great success with them discovering that spiders will grow year round in Tucson with some bright shade.  Well that story was a little boring but it was true. I experienced my first monsoon storms, ate my first avocado off the tree, and saw how people utilized tropical plants in their landscape beyond just potting and keeping them in the house. 

Note the baby spiders/clones.  Pick them off and place in moist soil or in a container half filled with water to encourage root growth. Once roots have grown, place in smaller pots and get new plants started.  Easy and cheap.
The baby clones are easy to grow.  Pull a bunch of them off and put them in a container with some water and submerge only the roots and let them grow.  OR if you have moist rich soil near a water line, just stick them into the ground and you'll have a 50/50 success rate....even better with larger baby spiders.  They are fast growing and do require regular watering in the summer...especially June.  Once they are established, they will take less care.  However, the soil should be somewhat moist to the touch and never allowed to completely dry out. I water them once or twice a week during the peak of our hot summer.  Easy to care for in pots and the "less fussy" of tropicals, Spider plants make a great low care option outside. Until next time....


  1. I love spider plants. I have a monsterous one in our living room. It has tons of babies. The stems dry when the mom is ready to let go and I pot these for friends or tuck them in my outside containers during the summer.

  2. Very nice for you in Tucson...I had no idea Spider Plants would be used there! Your oft-stated advice to "keep them out of the sun or they will burn and die" seems so true, in order to have success at growing plants in the desert that originate in more humid environments.


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