How to Prune and Trim Spider Plants at Home

Although spider plants (chlorophytum comosum) have gorgeous leaves and a beautiful drooping form, their growth can sometimes get a bit out of control. I prune spider plants indoors to decrease their size, remove infected tissue, and remove siderites. For best results, always use a sharp and sanitized tool to make clean cuts when you prune. Never remove more than one-third of a plant’s tissue at one time. Here’s I prune and trim my spider plant collection at home.

How to Prune Spider Plants at Home (Essential Tips)

The Benefits of Pruning

People prune their indoor plant collection for various reasons, and it’s a key component of spider plant care at home.

When plants become too large or unruly, pruning can help plants return to a tidy state. Additionally, pruning off excess tissue can cause the remaining tissue to thrive.

Even if plants are the proper size, sometimes pruning is necessary. Removing brown tips on spider plants, dead, diseased, or pest-infested tissue caused by spider mites will help plants put their energy into healthy tissue. Additionally, removing infected tissue can prevent the issue from spreading.

Pruning can also impact how your plant grows. For example, pruning off vegetative tissue can encourage large flowers. Similarly, pruning off flowers or fruit will allow plants to send more energy into their vegetative tissue.

Growth Expectations

Most types of spider plants grow relatively quickly. If you place them in an ideal environment and provide the proper care, they can grow close to a foot each year.

However, environmental conditions do affect the growth rate. If your plants are in a shaded area or in a room that lacks natural direct sunlight, they will grow more slowly. Additionally, poor watering or fertilizing habits can also lead to slower growth.

If you keep your spider plant in the proper environment and provide it with the appropriate care, it can grow quite large. Although these plants typically max out at one foot wide and one foot tall, they will cascade downward. Over time, the leaves and stolons can grow over three feet long!

What’s the Best Time of Year to Prune a Spider Plant?

A spider plant trailing down a shelf near a bright sunny window indoors

The best time of year to prune a spider plant is in the late fall or early spring (similar to repotting a spider plant), just before the growing season. At this point, the plant isn’t actively growing but will start growing again soon.

However, you can also prune your plants at other times of the year if necessary.

If you notice diseased tissues, it’s best to prune them ASAP, no matter the time of year. You can also remove dead leaves at any time.

Essential Tools for Pruning

Before you begin pruning, you’ll need to gather the proper tools.

The best tool to prune spider plants is a pair of pruning shears. However, you can also use a pair of scissors or a knife. Whatever tool you end up using, ensure it’s sharp and sanitized.

By keeping your tool sharp, you are able to make precise, clean cuts. This damages the plant as little as possible, which increases the odds it will quickly heal.

You should also sanitize your tool to prevent the spread of disease. One option is to soak your tools in a 10% bleach solution for 30 minutes. Another option is to wipe your tools with isopropyl alcohol.

How to Prune Spider Plants

Long green and white tinged leaves of a spider plant in a large circular plant pot

As we mentioned above, you may want to prune spider plants for various reasons. Before you prune, think about why you’re pruning.

After identifying your intentions and goals, you can follow the proper pruning steps.

No matter why you’re pruning, make sure to make sharp, clean cuts. This will limit the likelihood that your plant becomes infected with a disease.

Even though spider plants aren’t considered toxic to humans, it’s prudent to wear gloves throughout any extended houseplant care project.

How to Prune to Improve Health

Sometimes your spider plant becomes infected with a disease, develops a nutrient deficiency, or becomes stressed by the environment. You can prune off the unhealthy tissue to allow your plant to recover when this happens.

  1. Start with a pair of sharp and sanitized shears or scissors.
  2. Identify the discolored or diseased tissue. If you’re dealing with a disease, it’s essential to remove all of the infected tissue.
  3. Use your tool to cut each unhealthy leaf as close to the base of the plant as possible.
  4. After you remove the unhealthy tissue, dispose of it.

How to Prune to Decrease Size

A spider plant in a white hanging plant pot with long cascading leaves

Since spider plants grow quickly, they may reach a size that’s too big for their area. If that’s the case, prune your plants following the steps listed below.

  1. Pruning can decrease both the width and size of spider plants. Before you begin pruning, think about how big you would like the final plant. Just like it’s easy to get carried away when cutting hair, it’s also easy to over-prune!
  2. Once you’ve identified your goals, obtain a sharp and sanitized pair of pruning shears or scissors.
  3. To decrease the width of your spider plant, cut leaves as close to the base of their plant as possible. After you’ve cut the leaves, use your hands to remove them from the rest of the plant.
  4. If you want to decrease the length of your spider plant, you can trim the individual leaves. However, if you give your leaves a blunt cut, this shape will remain. Therefore, you can also decrease the length by cutting the most extended leaves near the base of the plant.

How to Prune to Remove Spiderettes

One of the best things about spider plants is their tendency to produce tiny plants known as spiderettes, pups, or babies. While these spiderettes can be used to propagate new spider plants, they can also suck the energy from the mother plant.

Therefore, you may want to remove these spiderettes to keep your mother plant healthy or to propagate new plants.

  1. Obtain a sharp and sanitized pair of pruning shears or scissors.
  2. Locate the stolon that the spiderettes are growing on. Follow this stolon until you find where it connects to the plant’s base.
  3. Cut the stolon as close to the base of the plant as possible.
  4. If you’d like to propagate the spiderettes, you can remove them from the stolon. Next, place them in water or soil.

While removing the entire stolon will remove many spiderettes at once, you can also prune off partial stolons of individual spiderettes.

How Do You Shape Spider Plants?

A small potted spider plant with curly green leaves

There’s no one right way to shape spider plants – it’s all personal preference! However, pruning is vital if you want to alter your spider plant’s shape.

Before changing your plant’s shape, step back and take a good look at it. What are you trying to achieve? For example, do you want to completely change the plant’s shape or only remove a few inches from the leaves.

When you’re shaping, remember to cut the leaves close to the base of the plant. This will limit the appearance of stubby leaves.

Additionally, avoid removing more than one-third of the plant at a time. Even if you follow best practices, pruning stresses out plants. Limiting the amount you prune at one time allows plants to recover.

Post Pruning Care

As we mentioned above, pruning is a stressful process. Therefore, you’ll want to provide your spider plant with excellent care after pruning.

Keep your spider plant in a warm area with bright yet indirect sunlight. Additionally, avoid exposing it to sudden changes in temperature or light and ensure you are using an appropriate spider plant potting mix.

You’ll only need to water your spider plant when the top few inches of soil is dry. For more, see our guide to the best positions for spider plants to thrive in the home.

For more, see our ultimate guide to spider plant care at home.

The Final Word

While spider plants make a beautiful and fun addition to your home, they sometimes need a little help. When you prune, remember to use sharp and sanitized tools. Additionally, never remove more than a third of a plant’s tissue at one time.

Contributing Editor | briana@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.

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