The Enchanting World of Spider Plant Varieties

Spider plants are renowned for their ability to thrive even in the hands of the most inexperienced gardeners. These low-maintenance houseplants are perfect for beginners or anyone who prefers a hassle-free green companion.

Spider plants with many offshoots
Spider plants are popular, easy-care houseplants with lush foliage (Photo: Rose Makin/ Shutterstock.com)

If you’re looking for an eye-catching addition to your home, look no further than the common spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum). These decorative plants, often seen in hanging baskets, come in a variety of stunning forms. Let’s explore the world of spider plants and discover some of the most captivating varieties.

Spider Plant Flowers, Origins, and Traits

Chlorophytum comosum is the most commonly kept spider plant species. While other spider plant species exist, they are harder to find and care for. Let’s delve into the differences among these intriguing varieties.

Spider plants, also known as spider ivy, hen and chickens, or ribbon plants, belong to the Asparagaceae family, which includes asparagus. Originating from southern Africa, they typically thrive in mountainous regions, as well as areas with rivers and bushes. These clump-forming plants boast long, narrow leaves that can grow up to 45cm in length, forming dense bundles. Depending on the variety, the foliage can be entirely green or have striking white or yellow stripes. At the end of the long stems, where spider plants flower, you’ll notice offshoots known as pups or spiderettes. These offshoots make propagating spider plants a breeze. Discover the correct way to plant spider plants in our comprehensive guide.

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Spider plants in the wild
In their natural habitat, spider plants take on a different form (Photo: Jandro March/ Shutterstock.com)

The Alluring Spider Plant Flowers

Spider plants can produce flowers almost year-round if exposed to sufficient light. These hermaphrodite flowers are star-shaped and white, forming clusters of one to six on an inflorescence. The inflorescences, which can grow up to 1m long, also give rise to the aforementioned spiderettes that elegantly arch from the stem. This allows the spider plant babies to reach the ground and establish themselves. To encourage abundant spiderettes, proper care for your spider plant is crucial. Although indoor spider plants often do not fully develop their flowers, when they do, the plant also produces rarely seen capsule fruits, each containing three black seeds.

Spider plant baby with flowers
New plants can easily be grown from the offshoots (Photo: Tia Thompson/ Shutterstock.com)

Spider Plants: Air-Purifying Wonders?

Spider plants actively improve indoor air quality by filtering and purifying the air through photosynthesis, just like many other plants. They have been shown to absorb harmful substances such as formaldehyde, xylenes, and toluene, while also capturing fine dust particles on the waxy coating of their leaves. While spider plants’ air-purifying abilities have been scientifically proven, it’s important to note that a significant number of plants are required for the effects to be noticeable. Having one or two spider plants in a room is simply not enough to fully benefit from their air-purifying properties. This applies to other air-purifying plants as well.

Spider Plant Lookalikes

Mondo grass (Ophiopogon jaburan) bears a striking resemblance to spider plants at first glance, especially the variegated variety. However, mondo grass has narrower leaves, giving it an airier appearance.

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Person holding a spider plant
Spider plants are known for their air-purifying effect (Photo: Mykola Kolomiets/ Shutterstock.com)

Delightful Spider Plant Species and Varieties

Let’s explore some other spider plant species and their unique varieties.

Common Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Chlorophytum comosum is the most well-known species of spider plant, and you’ll often find its variegated varieties in stores. Here are a few popular ones:

  • Bonnie: Also known as the curly spider plant, this variety features leaves with a broad white stripe down the middle, creating a distinct curly appearance.
  • Variegatum: With white-edged leaves, this variety is one of the best-selling spider plants.
  • Milky Way: Sporting grass-like thin leaves with white edges, this variety adds a delicate touch to any space.
  • Vittatum: This variety showcases a wide white stripe down the middle of its leaves.
  • Lemon: With pure green leaves, this variety stands out for its vibrant color.

Curly spider plant near window
The curly leaves of the ‘Bonnie’ variety give the plant a more compact appearance (Photo: ArtCreationsDesignPhoto/ Shutterstock.com)

Green Orange Spider Plant (Chlorophytum orchidastrum)

Green orange spider plants feature broad green leaves on vibrant orange stems. These plants typically grow to be 30 to 40cm tall and wide. Although Chlorophytum orchidastrum flowers are short-lived and rarely seen on houseplants, they are also known as Sierra Leone lilies or fire flash.

Chlorophytum orchidastrum with browning leaves
Green orange spider plant leaves should not be exposed to direct sunlight.

Hawaiian Spider Plant (Chlorophytum viridescens)

Similar to Chlorophytum comosum, this spider plant species showcases narrow, elongated leaves that start off variegated but gradually turn fully green as they mature. Hawaiian spider plants produce flowers and offshoots identical to those of the common spider plant.

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Tip: The spider plant variety Chlorophytum laxum also resembles Chlorophytum comosum but is much rarer.

Are Spider Plants Toxic?

Rest assured, spider plants are not toxic to humans, cats, or dogs. So, if you have curious toddlers or pets, there’s no need to worry about keeping spider plants in your home! However, as these plants are not intended for consumption, it’s best to discourage humans and pets from nibbling on them. While spider plants are safe for furry friends, it’s important to note that not all plants are pet-friendly. For recommendations on pet-friendly plants for your home, check out our article on the Ames Farm Center website.

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