It’s not hard to see why the spider plant is so popular with indoor gardeners. With its fountain of gently arching fronds and baby spider plant offshoots, Chlorophytum comosum is a low-maintenance plant that looks great in any home or office setting. Generally, these houseplants are easy to care for, and you don’t need to panic if your spider plant has started to display signs of wilting or drooping. This guide will take you through everything you need to know to know about common causes of drooping spider plants and how to fix them at home.
- Common Reasons Your Spider Plant is Drooping – The Essentials
- About Spider Plants
- Common Reasons Your Spider Plant is Drooping or Wilting
- How to Fix a Drooping Spider Plant
- Drooping Spider Plant FAQs:
- The Final Word
Common Reasons Your Spider Plant is Drooping – The Essentials
Spider plant foliage may droop or wilt due to issues with moisture, soil, light, or temperature. Among the most common causes are under or over-watering, root rot, low humidity, and low or high temperatures. To prevent wilt, ensure your spider plant’s light, moisture, and environmental needs are met.
About Spider Plants
Chlorophytum comosum — commonly known as spider plants, airplane plants, or ribbon plants — belongs to the Chlorophytum genus. Part of the Asparagaceae or asparagus family, Chlorophytum contains about 200 species of flowering perennial plants.
With its green, arching fronds, C. comosum is a popular houseplant. However, a few cultivated varieties are even more commonly found in homes and offices across North America. The most common, C. comosum ‘Vittatum,‘ has dark green foliage with a white stripe down the center, and C. comosum ‘Variegatum’ has broad green leaves with white margins. Other popular types of spider plants include C. comosum ‘Milky Way,” which has creamy leaves with green margins, and C. comosum ‘White Stripe’ which has a white central stripe that fades to green over time.
Spider plants are native to a wide swath of the African continent, from Nigeria in the west, to Ethiopia in the east, to South Africa in the south. In its natural habitat, the spider plant lives in the understory of semi-tropical and tropical forests. Here, it receives dappled sunlight, regular moisture, medium to high humidity, and temperatures ranging from 50 to 90 degrees F.
The closer you can mimic these conditions in your home or office, the happier and healthier your spider plant will be. If one or more of these conditions aren’t quite right, your spider plant may droop or wilt. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why C. comosum may start to droop.
Common Reasons Your Spider Plant is Drooping or Wilting
1) Lack of Water or Inadequate Moisture
If you notice your spider plant’s fronds drooping, start by checking the moisture content in the soil. Though spider plants can tolerate some dry soil, they don’t like to be completely dried out for extended periods.
If more than two to three inches of soil feel dry to the touch, it’s likely time to water. Slowly pour water into the soil around the plant. If it’s very dry, the soil may resist absorbing the water, so you may have to repeat several times until the soil feels evenly moist.
Just as too-dry soil can cause a spider plant’s fronds to droop, overwatering can also cause wilting and drooping. Generally, it’s best to wait for the top two to three inches of soil to dry out before watering your spider plant.
In the winter months, the plant may need even less water when it is not in an active growth stage. If the plant is overwatered, the soil becomes drenched, making it difficult for roots to take up the nutrients and air that plants need. This causes leaves to droop and wilt.
3) Poor Drainage
Like overwatering, poor drainage makes it difficult for spider plants to access the nutrients, air, and moisture they need from the soil. When excess water can’t escape from a container, the roots are drenched.
They can essentially suffocate, making it hard for them to absorb what the plant needs. As a result, leaves may droop and wilt. Solve the problem by ensuring your spider plant container has adequate drainage holes.
4) Root Bound
Root-bound plants experience similar issues to those that are overwatered or in containers with poor drainage. When the spider plant grows too large for its container, the roots may take up too much space in the pot. They may protrude through the top of the soil, come out of the drainage holes, or start to circle the pot.
Over time, this creates a dense mat of roots, or “root bound.” A plant that’s root bound can’t take up the water, air, and nutrients it needs. Solve the issue by repotting the spider plant in an appropriately sized container, loosening roots, and using fresh soil.
5) Root Rot
Root rot, also known as crown rot, can cause wilting, drooping, yellowing, and browning leaves. Over time, the leaves may wither, and the plant may die.
Root rot may be caused by fungal pathogens that attack the plant. Avoid root rot by not overwatering, ensuring plants are potted in an appropriately sized (and clean) pot and using the correct type of potting soil.
6) Inappropriate Temperature
Spider plants grow best when temperatures range between 66 and 76 degrees F. Temperatures above 80 degrees F can make fronds droop, and temperatures that reach above 90 for extended periods can kill plants.
Too-cold temperatures can also affect leaves. When the temperature drops below 55 degrees, foliage may droop, wilt or become discolored. Left in the cold too long, and leaves will become mushy. At this point, the foliage should be removed.
7) Poor Light Conditions
In their natural habitat, spider plants thrive in the dappled light that reaches the forest understory. In the home or office, bright indirect natural light can replicate these conditions. Too much or too little light can cause foliage to droop and even turn mushy or brown.
The best position for spider plants is an east-facing window or a few feet from a south- or west-facing window. If that window is covered with a sheer curtain at all times, you can place the plant directly in the window.
8) Lack of Nutrients
All plants need water, air, and nutrients to survive, and spider plants are no exception. When spider plants grow in their natural habitat, leaves, and other biowaste compost naturally into the soil, providing all the nutrients the plants need.
But when spider plants are grown indoors in containers, they must get their nutrients from the soil. If a plant has been in the same container for a while, the soil gets depleted. When plant roots can’t access enough nutrients, the foliage may begin to droop and wilt.
Replacing the nutrients with fertilizer can help solve the problem. You should fertilize your spider plant once every month or two during the spring and summer when plants are actively growing. In most cases, you don’t need to feed your spider plants during the winter.
9) Pests and Diseases
Spider plants aren’t susceptible to too many pests or diseases, but a few may cause leaves to wilt or droop. Pests to check for include scale or mealybugs, which feed on the underside of leaves and stems. Prune damaged foliage, and use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to clear pests. Follow up with a spray of Neem oil or insecticidal soap.
While it’s not a disease, spider plants are sensitive to fluoride, boron, and chlorine, which are often found in tap water. Switch to distilled or rainwater if you notice drooping leaves.
How to Fix a Drooping Spider Plant
In most cases, the best way to fix drooping or wilting leaves is by providing optimal growing conditions. These include:
- Temperature range from 65 to 80 degrees F
- Humidity range from 40 to 80 percent
- Potting mix that holds moisture and drains well, with a slightly acidic pH of 6.0 to 7.0
- Water only when the top few inches of soil feel dry
- Feed once every month or two during the spring and summer
- Place in a bright indirect light exposure
Drooping Spider Plant FAQs:
What causes a Spider Plant’s leaves to droop?
Common culprits include overwatering, too hot or too cold temperatures, incorrect light exposure, and poor drainage. Other causes may be root bound or root rot, pests, fluoride or chlorine build-up, or lack of nutrients.
What does an overwatered Spider Plant look like?
An overwatered spider plant may have drooping, wilted leaves. Over time, the foliage may turn pale, yellow, or brown.
How do I know if my Spider Plant is dying?
A dying spider plant may become highly wilted, with drooping foliage that feels mushy. Leaf tips may turn brown or black and get crispy.
Will droopy Spider Plant leaves recover?
In many cases, droopy leaves will recover. Once leaves turn brown or black, however, they will not re-green.
How do you fix a droopy Spider Plant?
The most common causes of leaf droop are over or under-watering, inadequate light, temperature or humidity fluctuations, and poor drainage. Fix these problems first, then consider repotting, fertilization, or pest control.
Are Spider Plants toxic to humans and pets?
Spider plants aren’t considered toxic to humans and most pets.
The Final Word
Spider plants add a cheerful touch of color and texture to any room in the home or office. Their arching fronds and a profusion of offshoots make them a lovely focal point. If your spider plant’s leaves start to droop or wilt, ensure that their environmental conditions are optimal.
Linsay is an American copywriter based in the Pacific Northwest with a background in academic writing and research. Linsay holds Master's degree in both Anthropology and Library and Information Sciences and has written for numerous national and international publications including USA Today, SFGATE, Hunker, and The Bump across an array of topics in the gardening, green living, and travel sectors. When she's not writing, you'll usually find Linsay reading, kayaking, sailing, snowboarding, or working in her garden.
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