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How to Beat Brown Tips And Other Advice on Caring for Your Spider Plant

Published on July 24th 2020
A close up of a spider plant on a wooden stool

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The spider plant, Chlorophytum comosum, also known as airplane plant, spider ivy, and ribbon plant are among the most popular houseplants. With their generous striped green foliage and seemingly boundless abundance of plantlets, it's easy to see why they've become part of the furniture over the decades.

Spider Plant

Chlorophytum spp.

Spider Plant 'Bonnie'

Chlorophytum comosum 'Bonnie'

White Stripe Spider Plant

Chlorophytum comosum 'Vittatum'

Cliff Spider Plant

Chlorophytum cremnophilum

Spider plants are prolific growers, they're not super demanding, and also come in some really cute varieties, hello Bonnie, Hawaiian, and Zebra! However, if there is one thing that irks most spider plant growers it's those pesky brown tips.
A close up of a spider plant

Why does my spider plant have brown tips?

Brown tips on the edges of our spider plant’s leaves are completely common and quite normal. These easy plants are simply more susceptible to browning for a couple of reasons:
  1. Water quality
  2. Too much salt in the water
  3. Too much fluoride or heavy metals in the water
  4. Too much fertilizer
  5. Watering consistency
  6. Too much water
  7. Allowing the soil to dry out too often
  8. Humidity Issues
  9. Not enough humidity
Here’s the good news; these are all pretty simple to treat. Follow these care tips below, and you’ll have the best success at preventing brown tips on your spider plant.
two varieties of spider plant

Can spider plants live in low light?

These plants love bright-indirect light. They will survive and grow slowly in low and medium light; however, they will really put out that new growth in brighter light. If they get too much direct sunlight, they will brown, and not just at the tips! Be careful of burning your plant.

What is the best soil for a spider plant?

These tropical plants love well-draining soil. Browning leaf tips can be a sign that your plant is getting too much water and is at risk of root rot. Be sure to add plenty of drainage to your potting mix.

How often should I water a spider plant?

As I mentioned, too much water is going to be an issue for your spider plant, but letting it dry out too many times between watering is a sure way to get brown tips on those beautiful long leaves. Allow about one inch of the potting soil to dry out and then water again.
The type of water is also important. Spider plants are generally intolerant of hard water or water that is treated with fluoride. Mineral build up in the soil will cause your plant to brown. Use distilled or reverse osmosis water if possible.

Should I fertilize a spider plant?

Just as they don’t like too much hard water, spider plants also will brown with too much fertilization. Fertilize gently with a balanced organic fertilizer in the growing months. Dilute to half strength and increase frequency to ensure your plant isn’t over fertilized.

When should I repot a spider plant?

Check the roots if you notice the leaves are browning. Rootbound spider plants will quickly complain (via their brown tips) if their roots are becoming too crowded. Because they are such fast growers, this could happen quickly.
A spider plant baby

How do I propagate spider plants?

Spider plants will produce small plantlets off a shoot coming from the main plant. These plantlets can be easily propagated. Gently snip off the plantlet from the mother plant, being sure not to cut any of the roots that are protruding from the bottom.
With the plantlet separated, you can propagate it either directly in well-draining soil, keeping the soil more moist than usual as it continues to root out. Or, if you are the curious type and like to watch the roots grow, place the plantlet in a shallow dish of water to allow the roots to develop.
Once they are a couple of inches long, place the rooted plantlet in well-draining soil and keep moist for a couple of weeks as it transitions to its new home. Resume normal care once it is established.
And lastly, if your spider plant has browning tips that seem unsightly to you, simply take some clean, sharp scissors and trim them off. This will clean up their appearance until you can adjust their care routine.

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