Sick Spider Plant
I need some advice:
Earlier this month I purchased a variegated spider plant from Home Depot. Before I bought it I checked that it had healthy foliage and no sign of pests. It was full, no brown or damaged leaves and had lots of babies. It didn't appear root bound and the pot had a good drainage hole at the bottom so I didn't repot it (I wanted to let it get used to the shock of moving first).
When I got it home to my apartment I hung it up opposite my west facing balcony doors. It gets lots of light, but as it is about 18-20 feet from the window and fairly high above the ground the only time it gets direct sunlight is the hour or two before sunset. I know spider plants don't like direct light, but I figured it could handle the short time periods of direct light. (Years ago I kept a spider plant in a similar position in a different apartment where it only got direct sunlight for an hour or two after sunrise and it thrived).
I've kept spider plants since I was 8 years old. That first plant actually lived for 16 years until, when I was newly married, my husband's cat decided to eat it. The only other spider's I've lost were given too much love (i.e. water) by friends tasked with caring for them when I was away. So I thought I was pretty good at keeping spider plants, but I'm at a loss.
About a week and a half after I got the plant the whites of the leaves at the front of the plant started turning brown and crispy (almost overnight) on the side of the plant facing the window. Similarly, the stalk with baby plants on that side also started turning brown. My first thought was too much direct light. So I started closing the drapes just as the sun dropped below the level of the balcony above us and started streaming into our apartment. No more direct light.
Things got worse. I had now had the plant two weeks. I had watered it once (same water I use on a pre-existing non-variegated plant, which is doing fine and is on my balcony, in the shadow of a larger pot growing tomatoes). It was getting close to being due for another watering. Since the leaves were brown and dry, rather than brown and droopy I thought I might be leaving it too long between waterings and watered it a day or two before I otherwise would have. That was about a week ago and the last time I watered the plant.
Within a couple of days I realized things were not improving. I moved the plant to the exterior wall beside the window. Now all direct light is blocked by the curtains and the only light it gets is ambient room light. I had also been hesitant about trimming the leaves since only the whites were affected (the green parts of the leaves, including the tips were fine), but I bit the bullet and trimmed them leaving about 1/4" of brown to prevent it spreading.
A week later the deterioration has slowed. The damage seems limited to the exterior ring of leaves (especially on the side that had faced the window) and the stalks with the babies. The interior of the plant is still growing new, healthy leaves but the damaged leaves are now becoming wilty instead of crispy. And while I would have expected the soil to drain at least somewhat since I watered it a week ago, it's still really soggy.
I'm thinking I should maybe be concerned about root rot, so I'm going to repot it later today as soon as I can go buy a new pot.
Even so I'm concerned about the initial symptoms: brown, dry crispy leaves that only seem damaged in the whites. I don't think that's root rot. Could I be having two different problems here?
Any advice or ideas would be great. I don't want to kill it by over-reacting and changing everything I'm doing, but I don't want to do too little either. Thanks.