Plants and Herbs

Rooting Spider Plant Pups

Let me preface this by saying that I love my cat.

He’s a huge, sweet, orange doofus, albeit a surprisingly bright doofus. He’s learned a number of verbal commands, like “sit,” “up,” and “off” (even if he thinks “off” means “stop what you’re doing and run over to flop your gigantic butt on me”). There is one thing he hasn’t learned, and, at this point, I’m not sure he’s ever going to.

Don’t eat plants.

I don’t have poisonous plants. The only toxic ones I have are those that contain calcium oxalate crystals, and are more accurately described as “really irritating.” I also keep my plants well out of his way.

… Or so I thought, until I walked into the bathroom and spotted one of my lovely spider plant pups laying in the bathtub. Fortunately, they’re neither toxic nor irritating, because this pup was also very chewed.

This spider plant has a ton of offsets, so one isn’t really a great loss. Still, I managed to find it soon enough, and the roots were more or less unscathed, so I figured I’d see if I could save it. Luckily, spider plants are like goldfish plants, ghost plants, and pothos in that they’ll root with a snap of your fingers.

Close-up of spider plant pup root nodes.
These little nubs at the base of the offset will develop into roots.

Spotting Root Nodes

At the base of every little spider plant rosette, there are a number of little nubs. They start out green and smooth when the pup is young, and turn brown and develop a rougher, drier texture as it matures. If they’re placed in soil or immersed in water, these little nodes will sprout roots.

While I generally prefer to root plants in soil rather than water, I wanted to be able to keep tabs on this little one. That was easily accomplished with a jar, some water, and a tall shelf to keep curious paws from wreaking further havoc:

I also chose a tall jar to keep him from trying to get another nibble.
I also chose a tall jar to keep him from trying to get another nibble.

Rooting Spiderettes

If you have (hopefully unchewed) spider plant pups you’d like to separate from their parent plant, the process is pretty simple. There are a number of ways to go about it:

After separating the pup from the parent plant:

  • Place the separated pup in some water, in an area with bright, indirect sunlight. Keep tabs on how the roots are coming along and, once they are well-established (about 1-2 weeks), repot them into well-drained soil.
  • Place the separated pup directly into well-drained soil, and keep slightly moist. Since you can’t see the roots this way, keep an eye out for fresh, new growth to signify that the plant’s roots are thriving.

Without separating the pup from the parent plant:

  • Place the pup into well-drained soil, and keep slightly moist. Once the pup has some new growth at the top, separate from the parent plant by cutting the stem.

Most spider plants are sold as bunches of individual plants potted up in the same pot. So, if you want that thick, lush look, you may want to pot several pups together. I don’t want to separate my other pups yet, so this one’s going to be by its lonesome for a bit.

Getting Spider Plants to Produce Pups

Sometimes, spider plants just refuse to produce offsets. There can be a number of reasons for this, all of which are pretty easily fixed:

  1. The plant is too young. Give it some time.
  2. There’s too much pot, and not enough plant. Spider plants seem to prefer being somewhat rootbound when it comes to producing pups.
  3. The soil has accumulated too much junk. If you routinely water with untreated tap water, your soil may pick up all kinds of salts and other compounds that aren’t super great for spider plants. I have very hard water with a pretty high chlorine content, so all of my plants get filtered water, as well as regular flushing out with distilled water to remove accumulated salts.
  4. There aren’t enough nutrients in the soil. Spider plants like regular feeding in the spring and summer. Be careful not to overfeed, however, as this can cause the leaf tips to turn brown and crispy.
  5. It’s too dry. Spider plants prefer to be moist, though not saturated. They like high humidity, but don’t tolerate standing water. Water thoroughly when the surface of the soil is dry to the touch, and make sure the soil drains well.
  6. It’s too hot or too cold. Between about five degrees north or south of room temperature (roughly 65-75ยฐF/18-24ยฐC) is ideal.

Spider plants are easy to propagate, even if the pups end up a little worse for wear beforehand. If your plant isn’t putting out any offsets for you to plant, try adjusting the temperature or watering schedule, and give it some time. ๐Ÿ’š


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