Renovating a Spider Plant

Making Houseplants Look (and Feel) Better

The thing about houseplants is that they keep on growing, even when they're in the wrong conditions.

Renovating a Spider Plant - make it look and feel better...

And sometimes you end up with this kind of thing;

  • lopsided growth from being in a window but never turned
  • long straggly growth
  • cat damage from them chewing on what they think is grass
  • dead or dying leaf tips
  • generally shabby and poor looking
Brown Leaves and Lopsided Growth

Someone gave me a couple of extremely overgrown houseplants, and because they are valuable for cleaning the air, I took on the challenge.  This spider plant is the first of my victims - but don't worry, in the end it will look great, and be much happier.

So to renovate a houseplant like this scraggly thing, assemble your supplies; potting soil, pasteurized or sterilized is essential.

Sterilized or Pasteurized Potting Soil

Don't try and grow houseplants in soil from the garden.  It's not meant to go in a pot and perform the same way as it does outdoors, plus you most likely will bring in some creepy crawlies or diseases.Look for bagged potting soil that states that it's sterilized or pasteurized.  This kills any spores, seeds or other pathogens.

  • A pot, a little bit bigger than what the plant is in now.
  • A place to work where it doesn't matter if you make a mess (because you will). Newspaper works well to confine the soil and plant parts you'll cut off, or work outside.
  • Scissors or pruners to cut top growth, and the roots.

The first step is to cut off all the babies from the long stems.  Cut them just above where the small plant starts, discard the stolon part.

Dump out the plant from the existing container, and inspect the roots.  If they're black or brown, they are most likely dead. 

Good healthy roots are white, in general.  Cut back the roots leaving a few inches in place.  In the case of this plant, it didn't require any drastic pruning, the roots all look healthy.

Sharp tools are necessary, not just to be able to cut, but to not do too much damage.

Cut the top of each crown to a few inches to get rid of the damaged leaves.  This is most likely caused by dry air, and they won't regrow the damage.  Cutting the plant off will encourage new growth to form.

Roots of Spider Plant

Wash the pot clean of fertilizer salts or other debris to give the plant a new start.

Replant the salvaged pieces in new soil in the clean new pot. 

Washing the Terracotta Clay Pot

Mound the center of the pot with soil, so that once it settles it will be almost level with the top of the pot.  Don't leave a ton of 'head room' so that the plant is down to the halfway mark on the pot. There is no reason for this.

The babies will soon form roots - they're just set on top of the soil, and pressed into place in any bare spots.

Water the plant well, then let it settle into its new home.  Or, if you have rain in the forecast, just leave it out in the garden.

Don't fertilize it until it's established, and showing signs of new growth.  It will use the nutrients in the soil for a while.

In a few weeks, there will be new growth starting, and in a year, you'll never know that it has had such drastic surgery.


Later, in the fall, this is what this plant looks like now after a summer outdoors - in the shade, of course.

The Spider Plant after a summer outdoors

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