Spider plant rescue and question on placement

venividibitchyDecember 8, 2010

Hi folks,

I could use a little advice regarding my spider plant, which is looking a little sorry.

At first, it suffered from tip blackening, but I now know much better, so I always leave out my watering cans overnight. It was doing alright, otherwise, and even produced one baby spider, but then, it lost a bunch of leaves the other day that were lighter-colored, soggy, and thin. Those that remain are darker green, and look okay, I think. After clipping back all the damage, though, I barely have a plant left, and I'm getting a little discouraged.

Is it not getting enough light? It gets light from two windows (West and North), about 4' away, and I only water it when it's dry a few inches down. Sometimes, I give it a light mist. Should I be keeping it moister, maybe? It seems to dry out quickly, and I do live in the desert....

I'm also curious what the word is on spider plants being placed outdoors in a warm climate like mine (9a)?

I've seen a few beautiful examples in town, but I worry that my patio might not get enough light (faces west, but a facing building and big tree cause dappled light), or that it gets too cold at night (42-48F for the next 10 days), or that their plants are just more hardier and mature.

Should I notice any new growth in winter, anyway?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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venividibitchy

Just snapped a photo, if that helps.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 8, 2010 at 9:33PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Almost all municipalities use a form of chlorination that renders the chlorine nonvolatile (doesn't dissipate), and fluorine is so reactive it is never found in elemental form, and is also nonvolatile, though allowing your plant water to stand long enough to come to room temperature is a plus.

Brown tips could be a symptom of over-watering, under-watering, a high level of soluble salts in the soil, or a fluoride toxicity. Some often point to a fluoride toxicity the minute necrotic leaf tips or margins are mentioned in the same paragraph as 'spider plant', but it's far more likely that excessive soluble salts in the soil is the culprit. Low r-humidity can be a factor contributing to necrotic tips/margins, but misting does nothing to raise humidity for more than a few minutes at a time; again, look to one of the three reasons I mentioned that limit water uptake as the primary cause of necrotic leaf tissue.

However - you said leaf tips were black, and that strongly suggests chill injury to me. Remember, chill injury can occur at temperatures as high as 45-50* under the right conditions.

Since spider plants do not tolerate high fertility (salt) levels well, the best way to grow them is in a soil you can flush regularly and fertilize frequently with low doses of fertilizer w/o having to worry about the soil remaining soggy for extended periods or salts from fertilizers and tap water accumulating.

Here is something I wrote about tending spider plants. Some of it might be redundant, my having already mentioned some of the following:

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 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 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 rarely helps with chlorine in certain cases, depending on what method of chlorination was used to treat your tap water.

Al

    Bookmark   December 9, 2010 at 3:13PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Spider plants were a common landscape addition in the Beaufort (Hilton Head), SC area, where I lived for many years. They were exceedingly cold and frost tolerant, for a tropical plant. Seemed quite happy in upper 30s.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2010 at 12:45PM
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