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Can someone help this plant?

Posted by ahyom ontario (My Page) on
Wed, Sep 19, 12 at 13:22

I've had this green spider plant for around 3 years. It's always done really well. Two months ago, we had to move, and ever since the transport, it's been going downhill. Its leaves are becoming really grey, dull and droopy, but I see no webs or insects (other than fruitflies). Some bottom leaves are wilting yellow, and drying out. The tips of the leaves are drying as well.

At my old place, it received the perfect amount of indirect light, whereas here, facing south and east, it's been getting fried in the morning. I've changed its location, but it's also standing in somewhat of a draft... Can a draft damage a plant like this? What does it say about its water needs, maybe I'm just stupidly over or under watering? I've also never fertilized until just before it started looking bad with miracle grow all purpose water soluble stuff. Could that have been over-kill?

If you can't already tell I'm pretty new to keeping houseplants, so any help on reviving this little guy would be much appreciated!

Btw, is this even a spider plant?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Can someone help this plant?

It looks like a Spider Plant. I'm thinking it may have insufficient light. As you say they like plenty of it but indirect and cool. I'd give it a chance to settle down before moving it again, say 2 weeks, and see what happens. It appears to have ample water so I'd hold back on that a bit too. Just on a need to drink basis.

RE: Can someone help this plant?

Welcome Ahyom,

Which direction was the window facing at your old home?

Soil in clay pots dry out quicker. To top that off a south window during summer can brown/bleach leaves.

Would you happen to have an east-facing window? Or can you move your Spider over to the eastern-most part of the SE pane?
If the sun is blazing, and your Spider is acclimated to bright light, additional sun will burn leaves.

How often do you water? IMO clay and direct sun is drying soil, which in turn browns leaves.

Has your Spider been in the same, clay pot 3-yrs? It's probably root bound, which means it'll dry even faster.
When you water, does the water run through? If so, soil isn't being watered properly.

If roots are growing from the bottom drainage hole, or on top of the soil, your plant needs repotting.

Perhaps it's time for a larger container?? Preferrable plastic. If root bound.

For the time being remove brown leaves..they will not revert to green.
Check roots...if root bound, repot.
Water soil thoroughly, until water seeps from drainage holes.

BTW, grey leaves indicate too much sun. If you haven't other windows, do not place directly in front of glass..Move back several feet, or off to the side.

If you have any other questions, please ask. Good luck, Toni

RE: Can someone help this plant?

If it was mine, I would pot it in plastic. Spiders really like water and lower light especially solid green. I would give it bright, indirect light and a plastic pot so the soil does not dry out so quickly.


RE: Can someone help this plant?

I think the tips are turning brown because it needs repotting, although spider plants are extremely picky about getting too dry or staying too wet, and about tap water, doesn't really like being fertilized or NOT being fertilized, and picky about anything that could possibly upset a plant, the most frustrating plant I own. Had it for decades and it only looks really good for a few months right after repotting. Some of that is slight exaggeration, but not much. Starting to think a hanging basket pot is just not big enough for those huge white carrot-like roots. I'm leaving the potted ones outside this year to grow fresh again next spring, for a few months anyway. This is a plant that needs maintenance often (removing dead leaves, trimming tips) to stay looking good.

The gray may just be dust. These things live out in the sun here, in the ground all year, and I used to hang one on the west side of the house in OH, although they don't mind hanging in total shade or part sun, or wherever. So I don't think it's getting burned in Canada unless suddenly those older leaves are getting a ton of new light, like hours more direct sun, or suddenly mid-day instead of just early morning, something like that. They don't look sunburned but they could be more perky/upright.

RE: Can someone help this plant?

Hi Susan and Purple.

Purple, the reason I mentioned sunburned is, Ahyom said the Spider was scorching in morning light.

Oh yes, ever see the Spiders at Great America? They're in full sun all day long, very very beautiful. Green and variegated. Tons of shoots hang around the entire plant. But, they're grown in a gh the remainder of the year, so they're acclimated when placed in full sun. Toni

RE: Can someone help this plant?

Hello ahyom,

Well, are you confused yet? You've basically been told that you're over watering or under watering and you're getting too much light or not getting enough light. Any way I'm going to put in my 2 cents. I pretty much agree with Toni on this. And here are the reasons why. I'm really not new to spider plants. I've grown them for decades. And I've done just about everything to them. Both because of neglect and ignorance.

I think your plant is getting sunburned. And it's even possible for that to happen in Ontario, Canada. Those gray leaves are the indication. Green spider plants' leaves don't get gray if they don't receive enough light. I think you've basically answered this question about light when you said, "it's been getting fried in the morning". If you're getting morning sun after 10:00 AM there's a very good chance that the plant is getting sunburned. Especially since it wasn't used to direct sunlight before. And about the gray leaves. I don't think they will ever green up again so don't expect that to happen. I would not cut them off though because they are doing some good. If things go well the newer leaves will be nice and green and the old gray leaves will eventually become too old and turn brown and wither up. It's not unusual for spider plants' older leaves to turn brown and fall off. A certain amount of that is going to happen even with a healthy plant.

When I see a spider plant with brown tips I immediately think the plant has seen some drought in its past. This indicates that sometime the plant has dried out too much. I think Toni said it best that when you water, water from the top and completely soak the plant. When the thing drains into the saucer, make sure that you throw all the water in the saucer away. You don't want the plant sitting in water. Make sure that the plant does dry out a little bit in between waterings though. Spider plants are not aquatic plants. Don't go the mistake of watering it too much now. Her suggestion about the plant being root bound is a possibility. I also think that putting the plant in a plastic pot is a good idea to decrease the possibility of the plant drying out too soon.

That's about all I have on the subject. As Tony said if you have more questions please feel free to ask. That's what we're here for.


RE: Can someone help this plant?

Thank you so much for all your answers, they are extremely helpful!

I face both south, and east, but our east side doesn't get as much light. I will try moving it anyway to see if it helps. If green spiders really don't need much light, it should work out perfectly.

I didn't know clay pots dry faster. I bought it in a tiny ceramic pot and it grew really nicely in that even when its roots started jutting out of the soil (facing SW, few feet away from the window). I repotted just a few months ago, but will consider a plastic pot.

In your experiences, how often do your spiders need to be watered? And this may be a silly question, but how much water is actually appropriate, until it runs from the bottom or what?

And one more question. I know spiders should produce runners. Is there a reason mine never has?

Thank you all again so much!

RE: Can someone help this plant?


Sounds like a winner placing the plant back from the window. I wondered if your plant was in more of a south window.

You water the plant when it needs it. How's that for an answer? lol Seriously, rule of thumb is for the soil on top to be dry as far down as 1/2 inch, no more. Test this with your finger. I know it would be nice for the plant to be on a time table as far as a watering schedule. The answer to that is that it just isn't that easy.

Spiders like to be pot bound to product runners. I am not sure why yours never did. Maybe it wasn't mature enough. It doesn't look that large now. How big was it before all the light problems started?


RE:Post Script

Oh, I forgot. Water from the top until quite a bit of water comes out the bottom. When it is done draining throw out the excess water in the saucer. That should ensure a good soaking for each watering.


RE: Can someone help this plant?

Thank you Larry.

Ahyom. Yes, clay pots dry soil faster than plastic.

Was the clay pot new?
It's said, before potting in clay, the pot should first be soaked in water, 20-25 minutes.

Reason...when a plant is potted in clay, then watered, clay absorbs water, adding little moisture to soil.

Save your clay pot for a cactus or succulent...prior soaking is still necessary.

As Larry said, a watering schedule is impossible. Everyone's homes differ.. Your house may be 10 degrees cooler than mine, therefore 'more than likely,' my soil will dry faster than yours.

Sun, room temp, humidity, pot size and soil type make a difference, too.
A plant in full sun/bright light dries faster than a plant sitting in shade.

Certain soils dry faster than others. Well-draining soil needs to be watered more than heavy soils. But, testing soil is necessary.

Small pots dry faster than larger pots.

Do you understand the reason, watering your plant on 'X' day at 'X' time would be incorrect advise?

One more comment I'd like to make. Allow water to sit in a container about 24-hour before watering your Spider Plant. Toni

RE: Can someone help this plant?

I keep my water for plants in gallon milk jugs and let them sit at least overnight.

RE: Can someone help this plant?

Good news is the plant is looking a bit better since I've moved it away from direct sunlight. I've trimmed the dry leaf edges, and while the old leaves are still droopy, new leaves look vibrant!

I've also repotted into plastic. I already keep a jug of standing water, and will try to play watering needs by ear.

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