Why is my Spider Plant Turning Yellow?

Known as one of the easiest plants to take care of, the Spider Plant, or Chlorophytum comosum, is a gorgeous option that grows quickly and isn’t finicky. 

It is a favorite plant for many since it isn’t difficult to keep alive.  It has an interesting look with long arching leaves that have a broad white or yellow stripe down the center. 

The spider plant grows both inside and outside, in a wide range of soil conditions.  It can be potted and hung on display.  The spider plant can also be used as a ground cover to add a more aesthetically pleasing look to your yard. 

spider plant

The spider plant originates in the coastal areas of South Africa but is a widespread favorite among beginner houseplant enthusiasts all over the world. 

It can grow up to 12-15 inches tall, and if planted in the ground can have a spread of 2 to 4 feet wide.  It is considered potentially invasive since it propagates easily.  Because the spider plant thrives between 55 degrees and 80 degrees, it tends to die in the winter if planted outside, preventing invasiveness. 

Common Causes that May Turn Your Spider Plant Yellow

The spider plant is susceptible to yellowing leaves if it is being watered with water that has been treated with fluoride.  Additionally, the root system in this plant supports inconsistent watering, so if you are watering it too much, it may cause root rot. 

The first signs of root rot are wilted yellowing leaves.  To prevent root rot, make sure that the pot that the spider plant is in has plenty of drainage holes.  Also, make sure that it is not sitting in a saucer where the water can be collected.  The soil should be allowed to dry between waterings. 

Other causes of yellowing leaves in a spider plant include when it is moved to a new environment.  This can cause shock and will clear up once the plant begins to adapt to its new home. 

Also, since your spider plant likes to be in the shade, yellow leaves can be a sign of too much light.  The tips of the leaves may also burn if it is getting excessive and direct light. 

While the spider plant doesn’t usually have a lot of soil pests that are attracted to it, that doesn’t mean it can’t be attacked.  Your spider plant is most vulnerable and affected by pests that are attracted to nearby plants.  Spider mites and mealybugs can infect root systems causing yellowing leaves if not caught early enough. 

Ideal Conditions for a Spider Plant

The spider plant has growth seasons and dormant seasons.  Year-round, this plant prefers to be in a temperature between 55 and 80 degrees. 

The spider plant grows best in neutral soils that don’t contain many fertilizers.  It also prefers a shady environment or indirect sunlight.  It is all the aforementioned characteristics that make it a great houseplant. 

Its growth seasons occur in spring, summer, and fall.  It is during this time that this plant would prefer to be watered 2 or 3 times a week. Also, consider that crowded root systems encourage propagation. 

The soil should be allowed to dry between waterings.  The amount of water necessary should be enough to simply dampen the soil to a depth of about ½ an inch. 

It is during this growing season that the spider plant will thicken, produce more leaves, and propagate.  During winter, when it is more dormant, watering only needs to occur 1 time a week.  If it is less than 40 degrees, then your spider plant should not be watered at all. 

To prevent fluoride and salt buildup around the roots, new spider plants should be repotted 1 time a year.  The best time of year to do this preferably is in the spring, and older spider plants can be repotted once every 2 years.  More information about the ideal conditions for a spider plant can be found here

Other Signs of Stress in Your Spider Plant and Causes

Another common issue with spider plants is browning tips in the leaves.  This is a sign that the plant is either being over-fertilized or that there is a salt accumulation or chemical accumulation near the roots.  This problem can be solved by using distilled water or filtered rainwater for watering. 

applying fertilizer to spider plant

Additionally, too much fertilizer has been shown to reduce the number of plantlets, flowers, and seed pods from forming.  If you are attempting to propagate your plant, then consider using a half-strength fertilizer solution. 

Whether your spider plant leaves are turning yellow, or have brown tips, the likely culprit is due to a problem with buildup. 

There also may be a lack of drainage around the roots.  If this happens, you can remove the plant from the container and rinse the roots. Next, gently cut away any soft or moldy roots.  Lastly, repot the spider plant with sterile and neutral soil.

Variations of the Spider Plant

Milky Way Spider Plant

This variation of the spider plant has lighter green margins with a broad white to cream center.  It is lighter overall in its appearance in comparison to other varieties. 

Vittatum Spider Plant

This variety has a darker green leaf with a wider creamy white stripe down the center of the leaves.  It tends to grow at a slower rate in comparison to other variations. 

Variegatum Spider Plant

This variation of the spider plant has broader green leaves with very skinny white stripes.  This variety of spider plants tends to produce fewer plantlets than the other varieties. 

White Stripe Spider Plant

This green-leaved spider plant has a very narrow creamy white line down the central leaf vein that disappears as the leaf ages, making it mostly green. The flower stalks are a creamy or yellowish color instead of the normal green color in comparison to other variations. 

Best Way to Propagate A Spider Plant

As the spider plant grows, long stems grow from the main plant.  These stems produce little white flowers that are star-shaped. 

If these flowers are fertilized, they will grow pods that contain seeds that can be used to plant more spider plants.  If the flowers are not fertilized, a small plantlet grows from the place where the flower was on the stem.

Once you see roots start to form from these plantlets, they can be severed from the stem and placed in a pot of soil.  Severing the stem about 2 to 3 inches from the top of the plantlet is best. 

Larger plants can also be divided and repotted making two or even three plants out of one mass of spider plants.  This is best done in the springtime, right before a growth season starts.  If you have fertilized your flowers, then your spider plant may have produced seeds. 

If you would like to plant your new spider plants from those seeds, keep in mind that the seedlings may not have the same leaf coloration as the parent.  This can cause the new plants to be a different variation of spider plants.  For more information about propagation, we found this article helpful

Other Interesting Facts About a Spider Plant

According to a study done by the Texas &M AgriLife Extension, “a spider plant placed in a sealed chamber filled with formaldehyde gas reduced the concentration by 85 percent within 24 hours.” 

The conclusion found that in an average size house, 15 spider plants could filter and clean the air significantly.  So, if you are looking for a quiet, cost-effective, and more natural way to filter the air in your home, you may consider several houseplants.

Many gardeners prefer to hang their spider plants outside during the summertime.  It is normal then to find it struggling after it is moved inside during the colder winter months.  

This may be due to a dirt buildup on the leaves not allowing it to have enough light once inside. To solve this issue, spray the plant down before moving it inside. 

Next, wipe the leaves off gently with a clean sponge which can help the transition of your plant from outside to inside. More information about that study can be found here

You can Purchase a Spider Plant at Local Hardware Stores

Spider plants are abundantly and widely available wherever plants are sold.  You can find them in nurseries, local hardware stores, and online. 

If you are shopping for a spider plant online, carefully read the reviews of where you are buying from to ensure that other customers have been happily satisfied with the quality of the plant they are receiving. 

Also, make sure to read the description of what will arrive in the package when the plant arrives. You may see a photo of a large spider plant, but only receive a young plantlet in the package.  Additionally, take into consideration the time of year you are buying your plant. 

If you decide to purchase one during the winter, it won’t be during a growing season.  This means that any damage that occurs during shipping may be permanent or lead to plant death shortly after arrival. 

Using this Article, You Should be able to Identify and Solve the Problem of Yellowing Leaves on your Spider Plant

If it has been over a year since your spider plant has been repotted, then the yellow leaves can be a symptom of root rot, overwatering, or a buildup of fluoride or other chemicals. 

Consider repotting your spider plant and following a stricter routine when watering with either filtered rainwater or distilled water to prevent further issues. 

If you have read this guide, and you discover that your spider plant has yellow leaves due to a recent move or change in its environment, then give it some time to adjust. 

If you suspect that your spider plant is infected with mealy bugs or spider mites, then repotting the plant and treating those bugs is simple. 

Since the spider plant is so hearty and thrives in indoor environments, the yellowing leaves are just a sign that it needs some simple care, feel free to follow the instructions in this guide to help you maintain the health and beauty of your spider plant, and enjoy the effects it has on providing you cleaner air.  To read more about the successes of other spider plant owners you can check out this post.

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