Spider plants are among the easiest houseplants to propagate, partly because parent plants grow their own baby plants. These babies can be detached from the mother plant to grow as new plants. A healthy, mature, fully developed spider plant can produce lots of spider babies. Which means you can add to your houseplant collection and fill your home with gorgeous greenery with very little effort (or cost!) You can find more here at Prickle Plants.
What Are Spider Plant Babies?
Spider plant babies – also known as spiderettes, pups, offshoots, or spider plantlets – are the small offspring of spider plants produced by the mother plant. They manifest as little spider plants growing on one of the mother plant’s long stems after the spider plant flowers have faded.
There are several methods for propagating new spider plants from spider babies, most of which are simple, even for beginners.
How to Encourage a Mother Plant to Produce New Babies
To produce spider plant babies, the parent plant needs to be mature, happy, healthy, and well looked after. A plant that is struggling to thrive on its own won’t have the spare energy to devote to producing a baby plant.
One of the easiest ways to promote spider plant babies is to keep your parent plant in the correct lighting conditions. Spider plants prefer a spot in bright light but out of direct sun, so near a south-facing window is ideal. A spider plant grown in a warm spot with lots of indirect sunlight is more likely to produce baby spider plants than one grown in direct sunlight or a shaded part of the house.
While spider plants are generally quite forgiving of a haphazard watering schedule, they won’t produce offspring unless they are watered just right. Water spider plants thoroughly, ensuring all of the soil is covered. Use well-draining soil and keep the soil moist but not overly wet.
The more nutrients your spider plant can absorb from the potting soil, the more energy it has to create baby spider plants. Try adding some earthworm castings to the soil or feed with an all-purpose houseplant liquid plant food every couple of weeks during the growing season.
Spider plants are happiest when they are slightly root-bound, and a mother plant in these conditions will throw out plenty of spider baby stems. However, these plants are fast growers, so ‘slightly root bound’ can become ‘totally root bound’ in a relatively short time. If many roots are growing out of the drainage holes or pushing the plant up and out of its pot, it’s time to move the mother plant into a larger new pot.
When to Propagate Spider Plants
Because they are pretty robust, you can propagate spider plants at any time of year. However, the process is easier and faster if you leave spider plant propagation until spring or summer when the plant is actively growing. Warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours help stimulate new growth and help new plants get established.
Spider Plant Propagation Methods
There are three common methods of propagating using spider plant babies: water, soil, and still attached to the mother spider plant.
Propagating Spider Plants In Water
One of the most popular ways to propagate spider plants is in water. Fill a small glass or jar with tap water and let it sit out overnight. Doing this brings the water to room temperature and allows any chemicals, such as fluoride, to evaporate.
Use a clean, sharp cutting tool to remove the spiderette from the stem, or stolen. Make the cut at the end of the stem, as close as possible to the spider baby.
Place the baby spider plant in the jar of water. Ensure the base is completely covered, but don’t allow the leaves to sit in the water.
Position the jar in bright, indirect light and leave it be for a couple of days. Check the water and replace it with fresh water if it looks cloudy.
After around 7-10 days, you’ll notice roots forming from the base of the plant. Keep the spider plant baby in the jar, refreshing the water as required, until the roots reach a few inches long.
Fill a small pot with a well-draining potting mix and gently transfer the spider plant baby into its new home. Place the base of the new spider plant at soil level and carefully position the roots so they have room to grow.
Water your new spider plant and place it in a bright spot, out of direct sunlight.
Propagating Spider Plants In Potting Soil
Placing the spiderettes straight into the soil is perhaps the easiest way to propagate spider plant babies. However, adopting this common method means you can’t easily see when the starter roots grow.
This technique skips the rooting in water stage and goes straight to planting baby plants in the soil.
Again, use a clean, sharp knife or secateurs to cut the spider plant baby away from the stolon of the parent plant.
Prepare a small pot with a well-draining potting mix and make a small hole in the centre of the soil.
Place the cutting in the pot, with the base of the plant at the soil level. Ensure any roots that have already formed are covered with soil.
Moisten the soil and position the new plant in bright, indirect sunlight.
Check the plant after a few weeks by giving it a gentle tug. If you meet no resistance the plant needs a little longer to form roots. If the plant gives straight away, it needs more time for the roots to grow.
Propagating Spider Plant Babies While They’re Still Attached
If you prefer plant propagation to be as natural as possible, then try rooting your spider plant babies while they’re still attached to the mother plant. In the wild, the plant’s stolons grow to the ground, allowing the baby spider plants to grow in the soil underneath.
This method can be replicated either in the same pot as the main plant or by giving the new plant its own pot filled with soil.
Without cutting the spiderette away from the stem of the mother plant, place the starter roots in the soil. The base of the baby plant should be at the soil level.
The stolon acts like an umbilical cord with nutrients passing from the mother plant to the baby spider plant. However, you do need to keep the soil slightly moist in both pots.
Once the new plant takes root and you notice new growth on the baby plant, carefully remove the long stem to separate the plants.
Is it Better to Propagate Spider Plants in Water or Soil?
Water propagation can shock new spider plants when they get transplanted into the soil. There is also the risk that too much water can lead to the plant rotting. Propagating spider plants in water can make the new plants a little weaker, but once the spider plants are settled into their pots and new growth begins, they are just as strong as others.
Soil propagation is less likely to shock plant babies, but it will take longer to establish and produce new growth. Also, it’s impossible to see whether or not roots are growing until it is perhaps too late.
This is also true of propagating spider plants while they’re still attached to the mother plant. Baby plants propagated in this way take longer to grow roots but are less likely to experience stress.
In short, all three methods have advantages, so the best way to propagate spider plants at home is largely down to personal preference.
Can I Just Leave Spider Babies on the Main Plant?
Yes! If you don’t want lots of small spider plants dotted around the house, you can just leave the spiderettes in place. The mother plant will keep providing them with nutrients until they start having their own babies. Doing this creates large spider plants with a striking, eye-catching appearance.
Can I Propagate Spider Plants from Leaf Cuttings?
The short answer is no. The only methods of propagation for spider plants are via offspring, seeds, or division. It is impossible to grow spider plants from leaf cuttings, and placing one in soil or water won’t result in a new spider plant to add to your collection.