Spider plant dividing, propagation, and resoiling questions

ddlazFebruary 2, 2008

Hello, first off, I am TOTALLY new to gardening. My mom has her garden and such, but I did little to nothing to help. So, after reading about spider plants, I decided to try gardening with it. I bought a nice healthy looking spider plant. It has about 6 or 7 runners (runners are the stalky things that have leaves at the way end and some along the way on nodes right?).

I'd like to resoil (not sure if that's the correct term) in organic soil because I'm an organic freak sometimes. Anyhow, what I'd like to do is repot the plant in organic soil, but when I took the plant out of the pot, it was crowded with roots all over. Is there a way to wash the soil out without damaging the plant in any way?

That brings up another topic, dividing. I've read that if it gets too crowded, you should either repot in a bigger pot, or divide the plant. I'd like to divide some of it into a few smaller pots to put around the house. Is there a specific procedure? I'm just imagining cutting the roots as I tug on the main stem. I also have this idea that dividing will help me with the resoiling.

Now propagating...people use the terminology plantlets, cuttings, clippings, seedlings, etc. Are these terms interchangeable when talking about spider plants? If they are, what exactly is the "plantlet" that I would cut off to propagate? Is it the end of the runner with leaves? My guess is that it's the end with the leaves, cut the runner about 4 inches from the leaves and put the stem in water?

One more thing, the runners have different textures/colors. The runners with very few leaves are green and soft (non-woody?). the runners with an abundance of leaves are yellowish and hard (semi-woody?).

Would this be a sign of the runner's age?

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I'm a bit worried about your 'organic' soil. Could you explain what you mean by that? The reason I ask is that there are some (so called) organic potting soils out there that are entirely unsuited for container use.

Repotting is the term you're looking for! ;-)

The 'plantlet' is the spider plant baby at the end of the stolon (runner). They can be severed cleanly and planted just as they are, in a good (and fast draining) potting medium.

Spider plants can also be divided (at the roots), as you've guessed. Use a sharp knife.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 2:12PM
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Thank you for responding. The organic soil is a miracle gro brand "organic choice" - organic potting mix. So i'd assume it's good for potting/putting in a container. But assuming that I am using the right kind of potting soil, how would I go about getting all the original potting soil out and repotting with the organic soil?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 7:06PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Your potting mix has composted manure and poultry litter in it, both of which are very fine textured, getting more so with time. There have been quite a few complaints about the pososity of this product....just so you know. The finer the texture (smaller the particles), the more difficult it is for water to drain rapidly. Oxygen also becomes deficient in such mixes.

You need to know that the term 'organic' can be quite misleading, and is much misunderstood. Nearly all good packaged potting mixes are 'organic', meaning that the prime ingredients (spagnum peat, just like yours) are something that was once alive. That's what MiracleGro means by the term.

So, I think you can consider that the original potting mix is 'organic', as well. But, if I haven't calmed your fears about the properties of potting mediums, you can fill a bucket with water and soak the soil away. Yes, you will be injuring roots, but a good root pruning after the procedure will stimulate a lot of nice new (root) growth. Be sure to use sharp scissors for the task.

Most of my permanent container plants get root pruned on an annual (or semi) annual basis, and then returned to the same pot with some fresh mix. (Mine is mostly conifer bark fines, perlite, Turface (a fired clay amendment), and maybe some granite grit particles.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 2:06PM
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Thank you again for your reply. What would be a good premixed potting soil for my plants? I seem to find that a lot of people mix their own. It sounds like you mix your own as well? Would you have any pointers on propagating the spider plant via cuttings (vs layering)? The problem would seem to me that if I cut a tip, leaving a few nodes, the foliage would be pointing up, along with the stem, so if I were to root it in soil...the foliage would be flipped over or in an awkward position. Does it matter what position the foliage is in? Or anyone else want to chime in?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 6:49PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

All you have to do is REMOVE the entire plantlet. You can then cut the stolon back all the way to the base or to a secondary plantlet, if there is one. Take the offset (plantlet) and insert it into a well drained potting mix, or even 100% perlite. It will rapidly develop roots. The other method of propagation is division of the plant's crown.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 1:12PM
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One more question...I cut the plantlets, a few actually, leaving 2 or 3 nodes on the stem. I put rooting hormone on the end of the stems and put 2 or 3 nodes into a 3/4 perlite 1/4 "organic" potting mix. Then I put it in a plastic bag with perlite at the bottom. After about 12 days, i checked to see if it rooted or not....
Well, the stems didn't root at all. What I DID see was long, white strands coming from the tip of the plantlet(right where the stem connects to the tip/leaves). They're roots right? If they are...is that where they're supposed to root from? Are they good to plant with the "roots" in a potting medium now? They're all between one to three inches long. each plantlet having 2 or more "roots".

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 3:54AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I guess that I have not been very clear! I think that you've been trying to make stem cuttings, and spider plants just don't work that way. Your plant will not 'root' along the stolons (types of stems). Those are not propagating stems at all. Separate your plantlets from the stolons completely and insert them (the plantlets) into a coarse, fast-draining potting medium.

You do not need to allow them to grow visible roots before you pot them up. As a matter of fact, you will break those new roots off during the process. Plant the babies immediately into your medium right away...keep them moist but not soggy. Adding lots of perlite to your mix will insure that you don't over water. You can cover the individual pots with baggies during the process, but I never have. Rooting success should be 100% as long as you provide decent conditions.

Also, do not keep tugging on the plantlet to see if it has rooted. Each inspection will result in the breaking of all of the root hairs.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 8:47AM
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Heh, thank you for that clarification. I did'nt think the stolons would root since everything was growing from the plantlets. All the plantlets I cut were in ziploc bags, but a few days ago, i put them into little individual pots of perlite/potting mix. Would cutting the plantlets while they're ending their bloom be an advantageous cut? or vice versa? I tried a little experiment, cut off a a green stolon's plantlet, and it grew 5 plantlets along the stolon with very short internodes....cuttable?
I've actually only tugged once after 2 weeks of waiting...and they all just came right out. LOL.

I don't need rooting hormones do I? since they root so easily, and I don't really have a stem to dip into the rooting hormone...

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 3:15AM
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queenvalerie(Zone 5- Michigan)

Trust me I would not get to overly concerned about dividingand repotting this plant. In fact it is nearly impossible to kill a spider plant. Very hardy plant and will last a life time.
Have fun!!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 12:09PM
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yourpal(z6 NJ)

A few things to add...

When spider plants start to feel their roots becoming crowded in the pot, they produce the babies. I had a friend in college who kept transplanting her spider into larger and larger pots and couldn't understand why it never produced runners.

You can also cut the babies from the runner and stick them in a glass of water. They'll root fine that way too. To add to what queenvalerie said, even if you forget about them and the water evaporates after a few days, they'll STILL survive (and thrive)...

The only pest I've found to trouble spider plants is scale. Even with a full infestation of scale, they still don't succumb.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 5:42PM
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Hello Group,

I had moved into a new home this past December. I live in the Hudson Valley/Catskills area of New York State near Kingston. Anyway, In about January I got some cuttings from plants from work. These plants were nice but not doing that great. I got some spider babies and what I know as Swedish Ivy. I rooted the baby spiders in water and then replanted about 4-5 of them in a nice big pot to hang in front of one of my windows. Well the plant is growing like crazy all spring and summer. I water most of the time with water that has sat out for a few days or somtimes water from a mountain spring. well in the pot are about 4 all green plants and 1 mixed white and green plant. Now in the last few weeks I noticed a stem with many babies starting to grow and just this last week I see another new stem starting with babies. WoW, I am very happy because I want lots of babies hanging and I didn't know how long before they would start producing babies. I would LOVE to learn more about Spider Plants and if anyone knows where else to read up on them let me know. Also What's there True Plant Name. I would also like to know how to ship babies if I can find somone who will exchange with me. Thank you in advance for helping to educate me better. ( Ulster61@Aol.com )

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 12:36PM
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