How do spider plants decide when to make flowers/offsets?

dswsAugust 26, 2013

I recall reading on here that re-potting (proper re-potting, not up-potting) will often get a spider plant to put out some inflorescences (aka "stolons", although technically they aren't). But googling it, I find a page where someone says common advice is to let them become root-bound. That page also says they need dark nights, whereas this one says that interrupting the dark period stimulated "stolon" formation.

What's the truth of the matter, anyone know?

I don't think I had seen one that didn't put out plenty of plantlets, once it was well established, until my current one. It had three tiny plantlets on it when I got it. The inflorescence stalk was damaged on the way home, so I planted them and two of the three made it. It was ridiculously root-bound when I got it, and I just up-potted it for then. (Now I've repotted it, and cut it apart as well: it had four crowns, attached to each other below ground level.) In the intervening months it grew quite a bit, but didn't produce any new inflorescences.

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I don't think that all of that stuff you talked about is really necessary in order to make the plant put out stalks. My spiders have babies on them and they are not even a year old, these spider plants. Anyway, just give them alot of light and let them grow big and they should put out spikes for you. These are the ones I'm talking about right here. Is your plant varigated or plain green? Good luck!

This post was edited by pumpkineater2 on Tue, Aug 27, 13 at 22:58

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 7:17PM
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I also forgot to mention that yes, it does help them to flower when they are more root bound. Here's another photo:

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 7:21PM
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A plant behaves as if it is the last one on its kind on earth. Its sole purpose is to produce offspring - seed, offsets and other apparatus for the continuation of itself.
Under normal conditions the plant will grow (vegetative stage); and after the carbon to nitrogen ratio reaches a certain level, the plant enters its reproductive stage.
Having attained its goal of continuation of the species (seed production), the plant is quite content to die (if it is an annual) or embark on another vegetative growth cycle (if it is a perennial).
That is why it is a good practice to dead head annuals regularly.
Every so often, a plant is so stressed out that it thinks that it is going to die. A survival mechanism kicks in and the reproductive process speeds up.
An orchard tree will produce "forced ripe" fruit - many small fruit that are capable of reproduction but entirely unfit for human consumption; but then, that was never the original intention.
We can induce the stress by withholding water and fertilizer, allowing the root-bound condition or, in the case of vegetable crops, picking the fruits before they mature on the mother plant. The plant will "panic" and produce even more fruit to ensure the continuation of the species.
I hope that somewhere in all of this, you will find your answer.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 8:50PM
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I don't think you have to do anything special to get a spider plant with lots of inflorescences full of little plantlets. That's what they almost always do, it's what it was doing when I bought it, and it's what I expect mine will do now that it's been split and the conditions are changed. Rather, I'm wondering what it was that got mine to do only vegetative growth for so long.

Maybe some day, when I have plantlets in abundance to start under different conditions, I'll make a concerted effort to make a spider plant stay vegetative, now that I know it's within their genetic repertoire.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 11:10PM
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It'll do it in its own good time.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 4:45PM
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Sorry about my first post. It was screwed up. I don't know how I missed that. The part where it said "my spiders don'" is where I screwed up. sorry!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 11:00PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

In the ground, spider plants bloom in the spring. The stalks usually have one or more babies at the tip, which may be single, double, or more, and flowers along the stalk. Without sufficient light inside, it may take a long time to see flowers, or stalks with just babies may appear. In a pot/inside, there doesn't seem to be any seasonal pattern to their behavior. Being pot/root-bound has nothing to do with it, though a convincing case could be made for some plants (that they will bloom more or better,) no plant would experience this condition in nature, and this is not the reputation for spider plant. When people say that, they are usually overwatering their plants to death, or the plants are simply in a very bad 'soil,' and if/when the poor things finally run out of room in the pot to harbor so much excess water, they can finally try to do what they would have done a long time ago anyway. But back to spiders, they bloom profusely when loose in the ground, letting them 'get there' this far south is a mistake, they are perennial, and will not stop taking over an area by 'walking' into a bigger circle via babies every year. The next year the babies make their own flowers and babies, and trying to walk through a patch of this stuff is tricky, the stolons stick up in an upside-down U-shape and trip people, just like a patch of that nasty Vinca garbage. (Ooops, turned into a rant, sorry. I'm sick of digging up my Mom's novelties! She can plant 'em, but she can't dig stuff up later when it does what I warned her about... And - LOL! I still have one in a pot, old habits die hard!)

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 10:27AM
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Thanks, Purple. Good to know what they do in the ground.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 3:07PM
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