I recently propagated some “pups” from the spider plant that has been residing in a flowerbed out back. Yes, in a flowerbed. Outside. This reliable houseplant favorite has been in my arsenal for as long as I can remember, but only in the last few years has it been sprouting repeatedly in a sheltered, semi-shady corner in my backyard.
I’ve had spider plants indoors from as far back as my college days when a variegated variety, Vittatum, the most common, hung in a hand-crafted macramé holder from a ceiling hook in my dorm room. This was my first foray into gardening, successful only because these plants tend to thrive on neglect.
I’ve long forgotten how to make the macramé holders, but this nearly indestructible plant has remained in and out of my house ever since those early years.
I must admit, a spider plant (also known as Airplane Plant) looks best as a hanging basket plant, with its dramatic arching, strap-like foliage and sprawling stems that can reach two-feet long and produce small white star-shaped flowers in summer. But its “piece de resistance” comes in the form of dangling offshoots, the “spiders” that form along the stems. These are ready made plants, complete with roots, which make propagation a breeze.
And this plant is beneficial to have in homes or offices as it is known to purify the air by absorbing chemicals like formaldehyde, xylene, benzene and carbon monoxide
A spider plant does lose some of its dramatic effect when grown in a flowerbed, but it does provide a good substitute for liriope (Liriope spicata) without the aggressiveness. Only in the last few years have I been using it in this way.
After I noticed I had an overgrown spider plant indoors and a bare spot outdoors, I merged the two, never expecting the plant to perennialize in our zone 7.
Predictably, it died back after it encountered its first freeze, but to my surprise, this unique annual poked its head back up in spring, and it has done so every year since. I admit I cover it with several inches of compost in late fall. It always fills in the same spot, and dependably sends off shoots for me to share or pot up for inside.
While nearly indestructible, this member of the lily family can sometimes experience tip burn, which can be caused from low humidity, excessively dry soil, or from fluoride and chlorine in tap water. Clipping off the burned tips is recommended, and using distilled or rainwater may help prevent it from occurring.
Spider plants grow quickly and produce the most pups when root-bound, but then they can quickly become too crowded and need repotting to do their best. Maybe that’s the time to try putting one in the ground.