How to propagate spider plants

Spider plants are an easy-to-care-for indoor plant that can be seen in almost any household. They have long, spindly leaves (arguably where they get their name) and make beautiful plants for hanging pots or ones set on their own plant stand. One of the more perplexing features of the spider plant, however, can be the spiderettes. It’s hard to immediately know how to grow spider plants from cuttings, and the spiderettes are the key. So read on to learn about the proper ways to propagate spider plants.

Spider plant with spiderettes

Should I cut the babies off my spider plant?

The big question when any spider plant owner sees the babies hanging off the parent plant: Should I cut them off? Well, that depends. If you aren’t interested in propagating new spider plants, or if you want your parent plant to direct its energy solely toward its own growth, then yes. Cut them off and dispose of them as you see fit.

However, if you’d like to propagate them, either for yourself or as a gift to a friend, then you may want to hold off on the ol’ snip-snip. Those little babies are what will give you your new spider plant, so you’ll want to make sure the babies are big enough to thrive on their own before repotting them. Once you see small knobs and roots on the bottom of your spiderette, that’s when you’ll know it’s ready for cutting — either by way of snipping the runner or leaving it attached to the parent plant.

We suggest waiting until the spiderette have started growing roots of their own before taking the spider plant cuttings. If your spiderettes do not have roots yet or they are tiny nubs, then wait until the spiderettes are a little more mature.

Once you believe they’re are ready to be propagated, cut them away from the main plant. It’s possible that gently pulling them will help them come off on their own, removing the need to cut them. It does not matter where you cut the plantlets off. However, try to keep the cuts as close to the main plant as possible so there is not a stem sticking out.

To cut, you can use anything that you think will give a clean slice. However, if you want to be professional, you can use precision clippers.

How to start a spider plant from a cutting

Whether you trimmed the spiderette off the parent plant or not, the process of starting the new spider plant from the spiderette will be roughly the same. The only difference is that one is in a pot and attached to the parent, and the other is in a pot on its own. Because the spiderette won’t be too big, you’ll want to try to secure it to the soil as best as possible without causing damage. This can be done by pinning it gently with an opened paperclip, just to ensure the roots stay in the soil.

From there, water the soil (but don’t drench it) and be sure the plant is out of direct sunlight. Within a few weeks, the spiderette’s roots should take hold, the plant will sprout new leaves, and if it’s still attached to the parent plant, this is when it’s ready to be removed.

Spiderette hanging from a spider plant
Tia Thompson/Shutterstock

How long does it take a spider plant to root in water?

When rooting in water, there’s always the risk of the spiderette dying when you transplant it to soil. That’s because spider plants rooted in water tend to be weaker than ones rooted in soil and can take awhile to regain their strength.

Planting spider plant babies in soil is the quickest way to get the plant to take root; however, if you don’t immediately have soil (or maybe you want to start your new plant in a way that causes less of a mess), you can place the spiderette in some water for one to two weeks. Be sure that the container you use isn’t too big — as you don’t want to drown the plant or cause rot — and is placed out of direct sunlight.

Can you propagate a spider plant from a leaf?

Unlike other plants where you can take a leaf cutting and grow a new plant from it, the spider plant is only propagated through the spiderettes. If there are no spiderettes growing from your plant, don’t worry. Spider plants need to reach a certain level of maturity before they can produce spiderettes, and even then it could take years for one to eventually grow. So be patient, care for your plant, and give it the best environment possible to encourage spiderette growth.

Soil propagation

With soil propagation, everything is the same, except you’re potting the plant up in soil immediately. This can take longer to grow roots but can avoid the plant going through any shock when taken from water to soil. 

To help the little plant grow roots as quickly as possible, apply a bit of rooting hormone to its base before placing it in a pot. This isn’t necessary, but it can be helpful. 

Cut the baby from the shoot and apply the growth hormone. Using seed-starting mix, fill a pot, and create a hole for the baby plant using a pen or finger. Then place the plant into the hole and press down lightly with your fingers to ensure it won’t fall over. Water generously, but again, do not soak it. No direct sunlight for these tender babies! Place them in bright but indirect sunlight. 

In a little while, new roots will start to grow, and the plant might eventually shoot off new babies of its own. 

Spider plants are a fun and pretty plant to have in your home. Propagation is easy, and it’s a fun way to create homemade gifts for friends, family, and even yourself!

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