The friendly spider plant

While its namesake may make us shudder and scream, the spider plant – Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’ – is far from scary. The ideal addition to any indoor space, our Visitor Service Assistant Ann shares how these little plants can make a big impact to your home and wellbeing.

It is dark again and, after returning home from work, I am already shutting the curtains on my garden. It is looking a bit worse for wear with all the rain but the orange and red stems of Cornus sanguinea ‘Mid-Winter Fire’ catch the late winter sun, as do the yellow flowers of the of the winter jasmine. After looking closely, I realise the hellebores will soon be in flower too.

Inside, my spider plants are growing very well, baby plants are dangling down from plants above the kitchen cabinets, sitting room bookcase and on bedroom windowsills. They all need a bit of a trim and the baby plants, dancing before my eyes, are simply asking for pots of their own so they can start a new life.

Now a bit of indoor horticulture is just what you need on yet another wet afternoon. Finding pots I kept from last year and a bit of last season’s potting compost in the shed, I soon have a dozen or so pots lined up each with a baby plant looking very happy.

They will grow quickly with a bit of warmth and light, provided they are kept moist. I never like to throw plants away and will happily share with friends but, for the last couple of year I have put these keen little plants to effective use in the garden. As soon as all risk of frost is gone, they can be used to edge borders, fill in containers and hanging baskets.

The variegated strap-like leaves offer a contrast to other rounder leaf shapes of pelargoniums, begonias, and impatiens. They may not like too much sun as they quickly bleach, but a partly shaded spot is excellent. Once planted, spider plants will keep up their cheery growth until the first frost – after which they will quickly go, ready to be added to the compost heap to start a second round of recycling.

Meanwhile, the plants you leave inside will start to grow runners of their own: little white flowers turning into new plantlets. The cycle starts all over again, a reassurance that, next year on a cold winter’s day, you’ll have the pleasure of a bit more indoor horticulture to cheer yourself up.