How To Repot Spider Plant

How To Repot Spider Plant

Spider plants are a popular choice for beginner plant collectors, because they are low-maintenance and easy to care for and propagate. These plants can grow to become huge,  especially when provided with close-to-ideal living conditions.

Spider plants are fine with being a little rootbound, but you should never let your plant reach the point where there are more roots than soil inside the pot. If you let it get to this point, the roots may become damaged and even get root rot, because the drainage holes can get blocked by the roots and excess water will not be able to escape. Be sure to keep a regular eye on the plant and transplant it to a bigger container before this happens.

In this article, we will discuss the reasons for repotting a spider plant, and when and how to do this. So, if you are planning on repotting your spider plant, keep reading to find out more.

Why does my spider plant need to be repotted?

As mentioned above, you need to repot your spider plant before it becomes severely rootbound. You can check whether the plant is rootbound by removing it from the pot and checking the root mass. However, you can usually get a pretty clear idea that the plant is rootbound even without removing it from the pot. Signs of a rootbound plant include a dehydrated appearance, roots growing out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot, the soil in the pot drying out a lot faster than normal, and if the water that you have just poured into the soil drains out almost instantaneously. Looking at the leaves can also tell you whether the plant is rootbound: new leaves will be turning yellow, the leaves will droop, and the plant’s overall growth will become stunted.

If you notice these signs despite having provided the perfect care for your spider plant, the next step is to check the roots. Water the plant the night before you do this, so that the soil is quite moist the following day. Lay the plant’s pot on one side and try to pull the plant out of the pot gently, without using too much force.

If you struggle to dislodge the plant, use a knife to loosen the soil from the sides of the pot. Once you have done this, the plant will hopefully slide more easily out of the pot.

Inspect the root mass by gently removing as much of the potting soil as you can. Determine the severity of the rootbound situation. If the roots appear only to have started wrapping around the root ball, the plant is only slightly rootbound. If the roots have formed mats around the root ball, the plant is definitely rootbound. But, if the roots have formed a solid mass that seems to have taken over the entire space inside the pot and very little soil is left, then the plant is severely rootbound.

Remember that the plant is alright with being slightly rootbound, but try to repot it before it gets any worse than that.

Does a spider plant like being rootbound?

Even though a spider plant is usually fine with being slightly rootbound, that does not mean that it actually likes being rootbound – even just a little bit. Even this little bit can affect its general health in the long run.

When the plant’s pot is overtaken by roots, the absence of soil means that the plant gets less water and nutrients than normal. The plant is also unable to expand and grow its roots due to the limited space.

Compare a spider plant grown in a pot to one that is grown in the ground: A spider plant in the ground can grow to whatever size it likes with no restrictions, since the soil around its roots provides lots of nutrients and space. The plant’s growth is not hindered by the limited space of a pot. The plant in the ground is also able to grow a sturdy root structure that can support the size of its body with no problem.

A spider plant grown in a pot, on the other hand, will always have a limited supply of resources because of the limited volume of soil in the pot. The bigger the plant grows, the more roots it will grow and the more space it will take up in the pot, ultimately displacing the soil. The less soil is left in the pot, the less support the plant has. The nutrients become ever more depleted and the plant will also end up deprived of sufficient water.

The longer you keep the plant rootbound in a small pot, the more compromised it becomes. This will result in the wilting and drooping of the plant’s leaves and the stunting of its growth.

When should I repot my spider plant?

Ideally, you should repot your spider plant once every one to two years, because this is a fast-growing plant. Often, the plant will become slightly rootbound earlier than this, but it will take another year before the issue becomes serious.

It is also not advisable to be too eager about repotting; this is a very stressful process for the plant, so it should be limited to when it is actually necessary. Nevertheless, no matter how long it has been since the last time you repotted the plant, if it is showing signs of being severely rootbound, you need to repot it immediately.

Repot the spider plant during the spring or summer, when it is actively growing, so that it will make a faster recovery than during the winter when it is dormant.

How do I save a rootbound spider plant?

Once you have determined that your spider plant is indeed rootbound, you will have to repot the plant or split it into sections; that is, separate plants.

It is much easier to repot the whole plant, but if you want to keep the mother plant while having one or more new plants in other pots, then splitting is the way to go. This is also a great way to increase the number of spider plants in your collection.

How to repot a spider plant

When you repot a spider plant, you are basically transferring it to a new, larger pot that will give the roots more space to grow into. The fresh soil that you use in the pot will also replenish the nutrients that have been depleted over time in the old pot.

In order to repot the spider plant, first choose a new pot that is larger than the old one and will be able to accommodate the plant’s roots.

Water the plant the night before, so that the soil is properly moist and the plant is well-hydrated.

The next day, take the plant and lay the pot on its side, to make it easier to remove the plant. If the plant does not slide out of the pot easily, use an old knife to loosen the soil from the sides of the pot and then try removing the plant again.

Shake off as much of the old soil from the root mass as you can, so that you will be able to inspect the roots closely. Using a sterilized knife or pruning shears, cut off any black or brown, mushy or dry roots, because those are dying or already dead.

Discard all of the old soil in case it is harboring pathogens that can cause root rot.

Spray the roots with 3% hydrogen peroxide before placing the plant in the new pot and filling it with fresh soil. Do not pack the soil around the roots, because they prefer the soil to be loose and airy.

Water the plant after repotting and place it in a spot where it gets plenty of bright, indirect light. This way the plant can recover quickly from the stressful experience of repotting.

How to split a spider plant?

If you prefer to split the spider plant, you can end up with two to three more spider plants as opposed to just one.

The night before you do the splitting, water the plant so that it is well-hydrated and the soil is moist.

The following day, loosen the soil in the old pot with an old knife so that it is easier to remove the plant. Lay the pot on one side and pull the plant out of the pot.

Remove as much as possible of the old potting soil from the root mass by shaking it or poking the roots with a skewer. This is so you can inspect the roots more closely.

If there are any roots that have turned brown or black or are mushy, you will need to remove those by cutting them off with a sterilized knife or pruning shears.

Then, start sectioning the plant into two or three equal parts. Do this carefully, using the knife, with minimal cutting or damage so that the roots are kept as intact as possible.

Prepare the new pots, place the newly-sectioned plants into each pot, and then fill the pots with fresh potting soil.

Water the plants immediately after repotting and place them in an area where they can all get lots of bright, indirect light.

Remember not to continue with splitting if the plant does not appear 100% healthy. If that is the case, you are better off just repotting the entire plant.

Conclusion

Spider plants are popular plants because they are hardy and do not need much attention to grow big and healthy. As long as you provide this plant with its basic needs, it will do just fine.

Although these plants need repotting periodically, refrain from repotting your plant too often because this is a stressful process and the plant should be subjected to it as seldom as possible. You need to be vigilant in knowing exactly when your plant needs to be repotted.

If the plant’s roots are only slightly rootbound upon inspection, all you have to do is to replace the pot with one that is one to two sizes larger than the current one. However, if the plant’s roots are severely rootbound, you are better off splitting the plant so that all of the dying or dead roots can be properly removed. The sectioned plant will be divided into two or three plants, meaning that you are essentially propagating the spider plant.

Signs of a rootbound plant include stunted growth, droopy leaves, and roots growing out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.

The only parameter that should be followed with regard to repotting is to make sure that the plant is 100% healthy. Repotting or splitting is traumatic and stressful, so that plant should be healthy enough to recover before undergoing this process.

Image: istockphoto.com / Maryviolet