5 Ways to Propagate a Spider Plant

This low-maintenance plant can be propagated through stem cuttings and divisions, as well as by the stolon.

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) are recognized by their grass-like foliage that gives way to baby spiderettes, which can then be propagated to form new plants. These baby plants are often snipped from the mother and planted in soil or water, where they eventually form their own root systems. You can also propagate a spider plant while it's still attached to the mother, which gives it access to additional nutrients. No matter which method you choose, propagating spider plants is an easy process that allows you to share your beautiful, thriving plant with friends and family.

Meet the Expert

Related: 3 Ways to Propagate a Jade Plant

When to Propagate a Spider Plant

Spider plants can be propagated any time of year, but the best time to do it is during spring and summer when the plant is actively growing. The plant's native habitat is in South Africa, where the climate is warm with high humidity, so it likes to be propagated when temperatures are warm, says Linda Langelo, horticulture specialist at Colorado State University.

Where to Cut a Spider Plant for Propagation

Spider plants are typically propagated through stem cuttings. You should cut the plantlet (also called a spiderette) below the roots or the area beneath the leafy base where the roots form, says Melinda Myers, gardening expert and host of the Great Courses How to Grow Anything DVD series. You can then propagate the plantlet using any of the methods below.

How to Propagate a Spider Plant in Water

<p>jaanalisette / GETTY IMAGES</p>

jaanalisette / GETTY IMAGES

Propagating a spider plant in water allows the roots to develop before it's transplanted into a pot with soil. The one downside to this method is that the roots tend to be weaker and sometimes do not handle transplanting as well as they do when starting directly in the soil, says Langelo. For this method, use a shallow container where the plantlet can fit nicely inside without falling out.

  1. Using clean, sterile pruning shears, cut the plantlet from the stem.

  2. Remove the leaves at the base of the plantlet that might sit in water so they do not rot.

  3. Fill the container with water and place the plantlet inside.

  4. Place the vase or container in bright, indirect sunlight

  5. Once the roots are 2 to 3 inches long, transplant it into soil.

How to Propagate a Spider Plant With a Paper Towel

Another easy way to propagate a spider plant is with a moist paper towel. Keep in mind that the towel must remain damp in order for this method to work, says Meyers.

  1. Dampen a paper towel.

  2. Place the paper towel inside of a shallow bowl.

  3. Using clean, sterile pruning shears, cut the plantlet from the stem.

  4. Place the plantlet on the moist paper towel.

  5. Once the roots are 1 inch long, transplant it into soil. 

Related: How to Grow and Care for a Spider Plant (Our Favorite Low-Maintenance, Hard-to-Kill Houseplant)

How to Propagate a Spider Plant in Soil

<p>Dorling Kindersley and Rob Streeter/Getty Images</p>

Dorling Kindersley and Rob Streeter/Getty Images

Propagating a spider plant in soil is the easiest and quickest method. Plus, it usually produces stronger roots as they weren't sitting in water prior to being transplanted. Some plantlets may have small roots starting to develop, meaning they are more mature and will develop root systems sooner, says Langelo.

  1. Using clean, sterile pruning shears, cut the plantlet from the stem.

  2. Fill a container (with drainage holes) with a well-draining soilless mix.

  3. Create a divot in the center of the soil.

  4. Place the nub of the plantlet in the divot and cover with soilless mix.

  5. Water well and place in a bright location away from direct sunlight. 

How to Propagate a Spider Plant Using the Stolon

<p>Iris Moreno Besalduch/Getty Images</p>

Iris Moreno Besalduch/Getty Images

Plantlets still attached to the end of long thin stems (called runners or stolons) can also be used to start new plants, says Meyers. Rather than cutting the plantlets, they are rooted while still connected to the parent plant. This method allows the plantlet still to receive moisture and nutrients from the parent through the stem until it is adequately rooted and can absorb water and nutrients through its own roots, says Meyers.

  1. Fill a pot large enough to hold the plantlet with soilless potting mix.

  2. Use your finger, a dibber, or a pencil to create a hole deep enough to cover the nub of the plantlet and any roots starting to grow on it.

  3. With the plantlet still attached to the parent via the stolon, place it in the hole and cover the nub and roots.

  4. Water well and place in a bright location away from direct sunlight.

  5. Cut the stolon right above the soil of the plantlet when you see new growth.

How to Propagate a Spider Plant Without Plantlets

To propagate a spider plant without plantlets, you must divide the plant. "Choose a mature spider plant with a well-established root system," says Kelly Funk, president of Jackson & Perkins. "This method works with larger plants that have outgrown their containers."

  1. Carefully remove the plant from the pot without damaging the roots.

  2. Using clean, sanitized pruning shears (or your hands), gently separate the plant into smaller sections with their own set of roots and clusters of leaves.

  3. Place each divided section into its own pot filled with well-draining potting mix, ensuring the top of the roots are covered with soil.

  4. Water the newly potted divisions and place them in a bright location away from direct sunlight.

How to Care for Spider Plantlets

Caring for spider plantlets that have been propagated is similar to how you'd care for a mature plant. "Place the containers in a location with bright, indirect light," says Funk. "Keep the soil moist but avoid overwatering, allowing the top inch of soil to dry between waterings." Once the plantlets get established, which takes one to three months, you can begin to fertilize them.

If you used the stolon method no additional care is required. "When the babies are attached to the parent plant you just need to keep the parent plant properly cared for and it will take care of the babies," says Meyers.

Related: 13 Best Indoor and Outdoor Hanging Plants for Your Home

Read the original article on Martha Stewart.