I have recently discovered that this post which was initially titled "Spider Plants" needs to be updated. They are infact not Spider Plants (Chlorophytum comosum) but Chlorophytum bichetii!
Why? Because they do not have the arching stalks of "baby spiders" or plantlets hanging from the mother plant which real Spider Plants have.
These plants are very hardy. Don't give up on them so easily. Eventhough they appear dead, they may not be dead yet! This plant is easy to take care and propagate. It is a good choice for beginners in container gardening and houseplant enthusiasts.
This impromptu post came about after reading the comments of my Blotanical friends; Rosey Pollen, James Missier and Evolutionofagardener about growing this plant. Now, I am writing this post based on my own experience. I hope you find it informative. Please take my word with a pinch of salt as I am not a qualified botanist or master gardener. I am growing this plant in warm, equatorial weather. Here, the plants prefer cool air. Maybe the rules for winter or temperate regions are different. I welcome any comments from your experience / experts which may help me improve.
Origin/Native of: West Africa
This plant prefer the natural lighting of a shade e.g. under the porch or as indoor houseplants placed near a window. However, they do not like direct sunlight. They are not drought tolerant at all but they can even grow underwater in aquariam tanks.
To decorate my interior, I will still plant it in a plastic pot and put the plastic pot inside another beautiful ceramic/clay/ porcelain decorative pot. I find this easier to work with. When my inhouse spider plants look 'tired', I bring them out to the porch to bask in some solar energy, then leave them out, exposed to the open sky to take in some cool and fresh night air and morning dew. Then I bring them in again. An old Indian granny who came to my house for a chit-chat about gardening taught me this.
PROPAGATION AND CARE
Propagation is by division of clumps.
1.If your plant is healthy, you can repot it by separating the whole plant into a few portions and repotting it. Actually the miniature plants around the adult spider plants are the babies.
2. The most common problem I experience is root rot due to water logged soil in the pot. If there is not enough water, the plant will also dry up. Use loose sandy soil with good drainage because you need to water it often, i.e. at least once a day in our hot climate. I often lift up the leaves to check the soil condition. I don't water if it is still wet. When preparing the new soil, I like to sprinkle some tiny Japanese humus pellets as fertilizer. These are slow release fertilizer. Don't overdo this as the spider plant doesn't really need or like fertilizer. Over fertilizing can cause immediate yellowing of leaves or burnt-out.
3. When plant look like dying due to root rot, take out the whole plant and wash it thoroughly with clean water, especially around the roots. The chances are good if you can see the bulbs among the roots. Let it air dry for some time (overnight) before putting it into a dish of clean water and wait for it to root and reshoot again. This may take a week or so. Treat your plant as though it is recuperating in a hospital. When healthy, green shoots begin to appear, separate and plant in potted soil. My flowering spider plant in my previous post was salvaged and revived by this method. Luckily I didn't throw the whole plant away.
4. When I see the tips of leaves turning brown, I water it with diluted Chinese tea which is recycled from yesterday's leftover tea. This tea was collected from the tea cups served to my deities during my daily prayers. I learnt this tip of using leftover tea to water green foliage plants from a TV gardening program. Brown tips are an indication of burn out due to over fertilizing or certain undesired chemicals in the water we use.
5. This is one example of a plant that can suffer some neglect. It fact it likes to be left alone. From my own experience, I only apply fertilizer once, i.e. during soil preparation. Thereafter, I don't need to fertilize anymore. When it blooms, you may not notice it because the flowers are very tiny.
6. I like to use rainwater or water that has been left to stand overnight on all my plants. In our city, our tap water has too much chlorine. Sometimes, my children have some leftover water in their water tumbler, so I use this to water my houseplants.
7. Even my mother-in-law takes an interest in this plant. She likes to occassionally pull out all the yellow leaves one by one.
8. In our family, we are very happy if we see green foliage plants e.g. those from the evergreen family, ZZ plant, jade plant, snake plant, aloe vera, night blooming cereus, ferns start to bloom. We regard it as a good sign as these plants are without flowers most of the time.
This post is dedicated to Ms Noelle (azplantlady) from Arizona, USA of Ramblings From A Desert Garden blog. She was my first commenter for my previous post, My Nice Garden is Blooming. I love to read her consultant advice, tips and guildelines told with many beautiful pictures. She is the first person who changed my perspective that all deserts are dry and humid, yellow and bare. Now I see so much beauty in the desert, with cactuses that look like trees and there are so many flowers there.
Today is Foliage Follow-up day, hosted by Pam Penick of Digging. Do head over to her site here to see more fabulous foliage and /or participate.