Help My Spider Plants

Kelby MillerJuly 18, 2013

Please help my spider plants! They are my first house plants and all I seem to be doing is cutting them back further and making them smaller.

I got them around mothers days and have two in a hanging pot.

The one spider plant is a curly type spider plant and the other is just a normal one I guess. I am completely new to house plants. I try to water them when I fee the soil is dry. I push my finger in the top of the soil maybe an inch. When it is dry I put about 1 drinking cup size of water in over them. I have also been following the fertilizing stick directions for nutrition.

Below are some pics of what they look like.
A few weeks a go:


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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

They look like the containers are too big, they will fill in quickly if put outside

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 12:58PM
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Kelby Miller

I also should have said I am in zone 6. South central PA.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 12:59PM
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You could try with a smaller container to begin with. Your watering schedule seems ok, but a larger amount of water per watering could be a good idea, especially with a smaller container. How much light does it get? Spiderplants like good light, but not direct sun. Try with a smaller container, and a good watering, thent let it dry pretty well before next watering.You should water till it runs out at the bottom, then let it run off. When the plant grows and the roots fill the container, move it to a bigger one.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 2:16PM
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Kelby Miller

So I should try putting both spider plants into their own smaller pots?

They sit on a table that is about 4-5 feet from a NE facing window.

I thought I was watering it incorrectly. Whenever I watered it I never had any water come out of the bottom. Is dumping water in with the cup the way to go or should I just put it under the faucet in my kitchen? I have well water if that helps too.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 2:25PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hey, Kelby, glad you made it over here. I might try a little closer to the window, if convenient.

I think the pot may be the problem. Looks like it's made for hanging, and probably does not have a hole at the bottom surface of the pot, but recessed about 1/2 inch above that. If so, that allows 1/2 inch of water to stand in the bottom of the pot, which can cause roots to rot. The attached saucer should snap off for investigation.

Since these plants have huge, carrot-like water-storing roots, they really can use a big pot, and are capable of going for quite a while beyond the point where most people would think they are thirsty. If you waited for it to wilt, you would see, but that's also likely to cause leaves to bend. Once they do that, they won't stand up straight again, so don't do that unless you're that curious.

So, once you are sure there's a hole in the bottom of the pot, you would want to water at a sink, using enough water that some runs out of the hole(s.) When it has stopped dripping, it can sit back on the saucer, probably without snapping it back on, so it's not an ordeal to remove when plant is thirsty. It should be much heavier after watering, if not, it may have become so dry that it's hydrophobic.

When the potting mix has that much peat, it can stay really soggy for a long time, then suddenly be so dry that water won't soak in (hydrophobic.) That means at any time, it's either too wet or too dry, hard to keep a plant happy like that. Soaking in water can be necessary to get water to penetrate deeply if that happens, and a sign that it's time to repot your plant.

It looks really loose in the pot, so that may not be an issue unless/until compacted into a solid ball. Hard to tell from a pic.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 3:08PM
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Kelby Miller

So it sounds like drainage holes are my biggest issue. I have 5 pots holding 8 plants and I know for sure that 4 of them don't have drainage holes in them.

Is it easy enough to just drill holes in the bottom of the pots? How many holes should I drill and how big?

Should I check for root rot? I am not even sure how or what that looks like.

Also, since the water will be draining out, how can I keep the water from getting all over my floor and table when the water is draining out.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 3:25PM
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Kelby Miller

Here are my other plants that I am talking about that I've also been having a hard time growing. They also do not have drainage holes. All of my plants sit in or by a NE facing window.

Dieffenbachia, heart-leaf Philodendron, palm, likely Chamaedorea elegans (parlor palm.):

Podocarpus latifolius:

Dendrobium orchid:

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 3:29PM
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definitely pots with drainage and more than likely better draining soil as well. if those are plastic pots they should be easy enough to put holes in. if you are using a standard potting mix just get a bag of perlite from the same section and mix in generously.

also windows in order of light as i understand it. South - west - east - north so if you are in a north window you are definitely on the low side.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 3:37PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Agreed that's low light. The pot of Philodendron, palm and Dief will probably be quite happy there. Already suggested a bit more light for spider. IDK about light for the others of yours I've seen.

Taking plants to the sink to water is what I do.

Unless I'm going to repot a plant, I don't usually check the roots, but rotted roots can be... mushy, slimy, dark, obviously different from healthy roots, might smell bad. Healthy roots are firm, never slimy, probably white but can be other colors.

An alternative to drilling a hole can be putting a plastic pot in the decorative pot. That can be removed to water, and keeps the decorative pot a lot more clean, easier to repot the plant later.

The hole size can be as big as possible without losing the contents of the pot. I prefer a hole at the edge instead of the middle if possible. Then it's possible to tilt toward a hole, which results in much more excess water coming out, after it's finished dripping in a flat position.

To be as specific as possible, it's the excess moisture that can't escape from a pot without a hole that is the problem. Many 'potting soils' hold so much excess moisture that it's nearly equivalent to using a pot without a hole. Usually a combination of more airy/porous/chunky soil and going to a pot with a hole in the bottom is necessary to have a healthy plant. Just putting a hole in a pot full of crappy soil is better, but not all the way to good.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 4:03PM
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Kelby Miller

So the immediate concern is to get the drainage holes.

After I have that I should change the soil so it is more aerated. Is it safe to change the soil of my plants now? It is in the 90's this week and about 80 degrees in the house.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 4:07PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Speaking for the Philo, palm, Dief, yes. Summer is when they grow fastest.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 4:24PM
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Kelby Miller

One last question.

What soil type, ratio, should I get for my plants.

Sradleye said something about perlite but how much should I put in? Should I add anything else to the regular potting soil I have? Lastly, should I use this soil mix for the spider plants (my #1 priority), Philo, palm, Dief and Podocarpus latifolius?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 4:40PM
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i would do 50/50 for the spiders but i have found them to be very forgiving. if the philo is like the vines i keep it will suck more water and thus i tend to keep those in more soil, maybe 75/25 soil-perlite. palm probably like drier soil. i would be interested in what the others have to say about the dief. i have a cutting that ive paid no real special attention too. dont know about the flower

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 4:59PM
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Hi there
I made the same mistake with the pretty pots w/o drainage holes, too when I first started house plants. They are probably your biggest problem.

The only other thing I can add that hasn't been suggested, is when your spider plants are sending out those little shoots with flowers- those are baby spider plants. Cut them off.

You want your plant to focus on building a root system, not making babies.

When your plant grows up and is allot bigger, it is ok to let those babies grow. Snip them off by the long branch, and put the baby in water to root, or poke it directly into dirt.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 12:45PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I was hoping someone who uses store-bought stuff would jump in on the soil thing... there are so many discussions, like this one, this one, and this one.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 1:03PM
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Kelby Miller

Bad news.

I watered my spider plants properly last night and actually had water coming out of the drainage holes. The pot was a lot heavier after the watering and when I hung it up.....

The pot crashed down and both spider plants were destroyed. I guess I have to look on the bright side. I can get two more and get the correct soil combination this time.

As for the other plants, I have drilled drainage holes in the bottom of them and have properly watered them as well. I left them all in the NE window so hopefully I'll start seeing some results.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 1:55PM
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your spider plants might be able to be repotted. they are pretty resiliant. Once, I took mine out of the pot and split it into 4, but I got distracted and didn't repot them for several days, All was well. I've left them outside in the garage and forgotten about them for months- they came back too.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 3:16PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Yes, so sorry that happened but I bet they are fine. I'd rinse off the leaves and put the root end back in the 'dirt' and see what happens.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 4:23PM
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yea spider plants are tanks. put whatever is left into some soil, water, or probably pretty much anything. occasionally give it some water, coffee, or again pretty much anything and you'll be amazed how it keeps going.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 11:31AM
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Kelby Miller

Hello again.

I figured I'd continue this thread since my questions are about spider plants again.

So I have two baby spider plants sitting in water and I think the roots are getting to the point where I could transfer them to soil. Please look at the pictures and let me know if they are ready to be transferred to soil.

I just went out today and got two small pots (attached a picture to show the size, please let me know if they are) and some perlite. Based on the previous posts I should mix regular soil and perlite in about a 50/50 mix. Is that right for these baby spider plants that I'm about to pot as well?

Thanks for all the help again.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 9:07PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Cute little babies! Yes, those roots look ready. Sometimes a couple leaves will be growing in a conflicting direction to make it possible to bury just the roots. If you find that, just remove those troublesome leaves. In the 1st (new) pic, I would pick off the black, mushy bits before putting in the pot.

The pots look fine, just know the deep, fat roots will soon outgrow them, sometime this summer I would think.

When you see a great hanging basket packed with spider plant and tons of babies cascading over the edge, it's usually at least 5 individual plants, often many more. Although I don't think they should be planted smack dab against each other, I do like at least 5 in a hanging-basket size pot, a little space between them so the leaves can find a natural, unsmushed angle. A single plant has a simple elegance, just as beautiful, but there's just no way for a single plant to have a ton of babies hanging over the edge.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 9:20AM
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Kelby Miller

So I potted the babies in the pots I showed you earlier.
I did a 50/50 mix of the soil and perlite. The pictures are below to show you what they look like now.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 7:29AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

The pots you showed us in the pictures of your other plants are attractive and you can still use them. But not to pot your plants into directly. They are 'cache-pots' ie an outer decorative pot that you put the growing pot inside. Cache pots don't have drainage holes because a) they are not meant for direct planting and b) they are designed to stand on furniture which would be spoiled by water drips.

BTW - I am one of the heretics who use bought house plant mix. I am not about to start mixing my own concoctions for the few plants I have and I've not encountered any trouble with the stuff sold here as 'house plant compost'.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 4:37PM
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