Friday, March 30, 2012

Let's Start Out Easy: Propagating Spider Plants

For my first "How-To" post I thought we'd start out with the most easy plant to propagate and one of the most common houseplants: the spider plant.

 Two of my spider plants. The top is a single, older plant. The bottom pot has three 6-week old plants grown from stolons.

Chlorophytum comosum, more commonly known as spider plants are herbaceous plants that are native to tropical, southern Africa. It also has adapted to grow outdoors in places like Australia and some parts of California. It has become a common houseplant because it is easy to care for and can tolerate many conditions. It can survive in temperatures as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit. But it grows best in temperatures from  65 °F (18 °C) to 90 °F (32 °C). I imagine that most of you keep your houses between 62-72°F so this shouldn't be too much of an issue.  

Now on to the propagation.
Spider plants are very easy to propagate because, when they reach maturity, they put out runners with small plantlets called stolons. These stolons are easy to snip off the plant and grown into entirely new spider plants. Even if you don’t have a spider plant that has these stolons, it’s very possible that a friend or relative might. And since spider plants produce a lot of stolons, they’d probably be happy to get rid of a few.

 Spider Plant Stolons

1.      Get a pair of scissors. Make sure to clean them with soap and water first. Cleanliness is often crucial to success when propagating plants.
2.      Take one of the stolons on the end of one of the spider plant runners and snip it off.
3.      This is where you have two options. You can:

A) Root the stolon in water. This is where you take the stolon and stick the small, preformed root structures at the bottom of the plant in water and wait for larger roots to form. Make sure the water stays clean. Then when more roots form you can stick it in potting soil.


B) Plant the stolons directly into pots with fresh potting mix. Make sure to cover the small root formation completely. Roots should start to form soon after.

4.      Take care of your spider plant. These plants like sunlight, but not direct sunlight. Keep it near a window, but keep it out of direct rays. The leaves will actually get brownish and dead looking in parts, almost like a sunburn. This plant doesn't require much watering. You can even let it dry out some between waterings. You’ll know that your plant needs watering if the leaves look droopy. Avoid over-watering. The leaves will look yellow-ish or have black tips if they’re overwatered. If the leaves get brown spots, try watering with distilled water. Spider plants can often have difficulties if there are chemicals in the water.

So there you have it. Very simple plant propagation and care. Spider plants put out a lot of stolons very frequently so you'll have more than enough material to work with. And the benefit to having multiple spider plants is that they clean the air in your house. So the more the merrier!

My Introductions

So, since this is my first post as a plant blogger, I suppose an introduction is in order.
I'm a college student at the University of Minnesota and I'm considering majoring in horticulture. I'm also an avid reader, lover of music (I sing and play trumpet), love being in the marching band and since I'm an out of state student I consider myself an "honorary Minnesotan".
This blog is where I'll talk about the plants I'm growing, explain some plant propagation techniques, gardening information and just general plant information I learn in classes.

And now for an introduction to what this blog is really about: my plants.
 These are the beauties that have been taking over my windowsill one bit of space at a time. And this isn't including the plants I have in the school's greenhouse. I have, in this picture, four African Violets three spider plants, a pot of Christmas cactus, a hibiscus, a pot of goldfish plants and a spiky succulent plant that I never learned the name of.
I also have a bamboo plant, that isn't shown in this picture.
A couple quick facts about my plants. The hibiscus is a bit special in that I've grafted two more colors onto it besides the original pink. Eventually there will be two branches with peach flowers and one branch with yellow flowers.

Three of the four African Violets are actually leaf cuttings from the fourth (original) plant. The three of them are teeny, tiny baby plants that will, eventually, be as big as the fourth.
I have a lot more plants in the greenhouses that will have to come home at some point. And hopefully in my future blog posts I'll write about the plant propagation techniques and explain how you can do some of it at home. (Wow that sounded like a cheesy sales pitch...)
So I'll have a longer, more informational post soon.
-The College Gardener