Here are four reasons you need this fun, retro houseplant.
Spider plants have been a favorite houseplant for decades. Native to Africa, the plant was first introduced to Europe at the end of the 18th century and was a mainstay in Victorian parlors. It’s likely your grandma and mom had one, too, and it’s no mystery why this plant still is popular today: It’s super-easy to grow and tolerates a lot of neglect. Besides being low-maintenance, the spider plant has other benefits that make it a worthwhile addition to your houseplant collection.
Spider plants are handsome in any décor. The long, grassy leaves typically are striped white and green or yellow, and it takes its name from the baby plants, which resemble clusters of spiders dangling from long stems. This plant’s graceful arching form makes it a natural for hanging baskets. Give it medium to bright light, keep it in a room with average temperatures, and water occasionally, and your spider plant will thrive for years.
Here are some of the benefits of spider plants and why you need one in your collection:
1. Spider plants are perfect for beginners.
If a houseplant could survive on being ignored, this is the one! It’s hardy and tolerant if you forget to water; in fact, it prefers to dry out somewhat between waterings, so it’s ideal if you’re a tad forgetful. Stick your finger in; if it feels wet, wait another day or two before watering. It’s also a good idea to use distilled or rainwater if your tap water is fluoridated; these plants are sensitive to some chemicals in tap water, which may result in brown tips on leaves.
2. They make offsets, or babies, you can pot up for a new plant.
It’s ridiculously easy to make (free!) new plants from a spider plant. After it sends out the long, wiry stems with tiny star-shaped flowers, it will produce plantlets at the end of each stem. Snip them off when they develop little nubby roots, and place in a container filled with potting soil. Make sure the pot has drainage holes. Some people prefer to root the plantlet while it’s still attached to the mother plant, but this isn’t entirely necessary. Either method is effective for making new plants.
3. They’re a safer alternative around pets.
Unlike some popular but toxic houseplants such as peace lily and pothos, the spider plant is non-toxic if ingested by cats and dogs, according to the ASPCA. However, it’s important to remember that any plant, if eaten in large enough quantities, can cause upset tummies and GI distress. If your pet is a nibbler, keep them away from your houseplants–especially cats, who find the dangling spider plant babies quite alluring. If this is an issue in your house, snip off the stems as they form and discard.
4. Spider plants may have health benefits.
Ever since a 1989 NASA study which found that plants could remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene and formaldehyde from a sealed chamber, people have believed houseplants can purify indoor air. Spider plant was one of the plants included in this study. However, later commentary by the EPA said that because the sample size was small and the conditions controlled, the results don’t really apply to real life (which isn’t a sealed chamber or a controlled environment, after all).
Another more recent study showed that spider plants had the highest formaldehyde removal capacity of plants tested. But other research found that the level of VOCs reduced is influenced by the plant species, light intensity, and VOC concentration, so we don’t know if spider plants really are an effective air-cleaning option.
Obviously, there’s a lot we don’t know yet about how well plants can clean indoor air. However, what we do know is that it never hurts to add live plants to your home. There’s actually plenty of evidence that supports the positive mental health effects nature and indoor plants can provide, including better sleep, improved mood and happiness levels, stress reduction, and helping us feel less isolated. With such potential benefits, it’s definitely worth adding the easy-care spider plant to your home.
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