Spider plants

noplantwiz(NC)April 6, 2012

I had two spider plants that I had had for over 10 years. I had cut off babies and replanted to keep them going. Both plants got kind of droopy and started dying at the same time even though they are in different rooms. Both still have a few leaves on them but still don't look to healthy. I did cut off the bad leaves and repotted them both. One thing is that the leaves that were left seem to be curling up. I have never seen the leaves curl before. Why would they do this? I have no idea what caused them to both start dying off to begin with. Any ideas?

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HelloPandaNF(Zone Five)

What exactly do you mean by curling? As in, folding along the entire leaf? Or curling the other way? I read somewhere that it means more fertilizer is needed? That probably wouldn't help with the dying leaves, though...

Hopefully an expert will clear this up, since I really am of little use...

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 10:58PM
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The leaves are curling up from the tips. I mean really curling like almost all the way up the leaves. They don't have like dry tips , just the curling. Like I said most of the plants got limp and died but the ones that are still hanging on , some of them are curling up??

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 10:49AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It's always better to concentrate on getting things right from the start, so you can avoid trying to fix problems with causes that can't be readily identified. Odds significantly favor that the problem lies within a triangle formed by soil choice, watering habits, and the level of soluble salts in the soil from tap water and fertilizer solutions. Flushing the soil thoroughly asap, and making sure your watering habits are appropriate makes the most sense for the immediate. For the long term, making sure your soil ALLOWS you to water thoroughly enough that you can flush out accumulating salts w/o risking root rot due to a soil that remains saturated for extended periods would be an admirable priority, if you adopt it.

I'll leave you with some info I hope is helpful. First, some spider plant tips:

General care:

A) Most important is to use a soil that drains very freely. This allows you to water copiously, flushing the accumulating salts from the soil each time you water.

B) Fertilize frequently when the plant is growing well, but at low doses - perhaps 1/4 the recommended strength. This, in combination with the favorable watering habit described above, will keep soluble salts levels low, and keep levels from rising due to the accumulative effect we always see when we are forced to water in sips when plants are in water-retentive soils.

C) When watering, using rainwater, snow melt, water from your dehumidifiers, or distilled water, also eliminates the issue of soluble salts in your tap water and will go a long way toward eliminating or minimizing leaf burn.

D) If you make your own soils and use perlite, be sure the perlite is rinsed thoroughly, which removes most of the fluorides associated with it's use.

E) Allowing irrigation water to rest overnight doesn't do anything in the way of helping reduce the amount of fluoride (the compounds are not volatile), and it only helps with chlorine in certain few cases, depending on what method of chlorination was used to treat your tap water.

Then, if you follow this embedded link, it will take you to an overview you should find helpful.

Finally, if you're feeling especially ambitious, I think the information contained in this thread about container soils probably represents the single largest step forward you can take as a container gardener at any one time.

Best luck to you.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 8:55PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

Just an FYI. I finally found Eva's New Home Page Spider Plant. Apparently it has been up for about three years now. It may still be of interest.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 2:14PM
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So Tapla, you are saying it is really better to repot instead of potting up then? (I hate having to pot up and up but thought that was what was needed.) I have done this before but it seems when I start cutting back the roots that the spiderplants have really died back and I have almost lost them then. The plants have been really root bound in the pots! I cut off some roots but leave PLENTY on them but like I said they have really died back to almost nothing then. I cut some of the big tube like roots and some of the longer little ones that have wrapped around the pot. But you are saying to not cut back the smaller ones?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 2:58PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Potting up ensures your plants can never have the opportunity to grow to their genetic potential within the limits of other factors that influence growth/vitality, repotting and root pruning ensures they can. The reason that statement can be made is, even if EVERY other condition that influences growth and vitality was PERFECT, tight roots would be a limiting factor, inhibiting the plant's potential.

Those that insist that certain plants prefer to be root bound are either confused or talking about something other than growth/vitality. The idea that plants like to be root bound has it's origins in one of two areas. First, the STRESS of tight roots can increase or cause a bloom response in some plants. This response is a sign that the plant doesn't like the condition, a sign that there are chemical messengers within the plant warning the plant that conditions are unfavorable and that if the plant wants to pass on its genes, it better get busy and make some flowers/fruit because conditions are such that its viability is in jeopardy.

Second, the advice that plant A or B likes to be root bound is another way of saying the plant doesn't tolerate wet feet well. If you're using an inappropriately water-retentive soil, the lesser of two evils is a root bound plant that uses the water in a small volume of soil quickly, so air returns to the soil in time to save the plant from root rot or the effects of impaired root function due to saturation. It never occurs to them that though they're saving the plant from root rot by keeping it tight, they're still subjecting it to the limiting effects of tight roots in order to do so. Much better would be a more appropriate soil choice, one that allows you to pot the plant in a volume of soil that allows the roots to run free, yet is well-aerated and free-draining enough that no matter how copiously you water, root rot will never be an issue.

The big roots serve only as transport plumbing. You don't need them for anchoring, and the workhorses are the finer roots. Concentrating on removing the largest roots so they can split/branch where they were truncated increases the number of fine roots working to take up water and nutrients. Additionally, when you sever roots close to the base of the plant, you are cutting back to juvenile tissues. The most vigorous tissue on a plant is located at the transition between roots & shoots. This tissue always retains its ontogenetic age. IOW, it will always produce the most robust growth, which is why there is a process called rejuvenation pruning ...... because you are pruning back to juvenile tissues.

So, leave the small roots & remove the big ones. You may need to prune back the top of the plant if root pruning is extensive, but in my experience, even WITH the top reduction, the rejuvenating effects of the pruning are stimulating enough that within a short time the plant will have surpassed the growth it would have made if you hadn't done the repotting/pruning.

Many of us want our plants to grow fast and large, then we scratch our heads and ponder what course now that I've met THAT goal? The measure of a good grower is probably better taken from the appearance and the state of health in which he is able to maintain in his plants, rather than the amount of mass he can coax the plant into producing. With spider plants, and most others, you're not limited to a plant that's forever increasing in size until it becomes unmanageable. Keep the plant healthy and whatever size you want through divisions & reductions in size when appropriate.


    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 5:36PM
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