Is your spider plant about to burst out of its pot? Or maybe you’ve had it in the same pot for 3 years or more. Then it’s definitely time to think about repotting.
In this article we’ll cover the essential 5-step process of how to repot a spider plant, including the size of pot required, the best soil to use and essential aftercare advice.
Why to repot your spider plant
The reason your spider plant needs repotting on a semi-regular base is because with spider plants, at least as much is going on under the surface of the soil at any one time as is going on above.
The roots of a spider plant are tuberous and can be quite enough to freak out the unwary. They grow relatively fast and can get matted in the soil. And if you leave them too long, you might well witness the power of plants in a vivid way – they can crack open a flowerpot if they need to grow and there’s no room inside for them to do it.
So, they need to be moved on to bigger pots as they grow, not because the above-ground plant is larger, but because the root system of the spider plant can crack pots and to some extent choke themselves.
When to repot your spider plant
Keep an eye on your spider plant’s root system – lift the plant gently out of its pot from time to time. You’re aiming to catch the root system before it costs you a flowerpot. Awkwardly, it can be tricky to spot the moment when you need to repot your spider plant, because spider plants actually grow best when they’re slightly pot-bound. Like babies in swaddling or adults under gravity blankets, the pressure of being enclosed seems to suit them.
If the root system looks crowded, matted, or cramped, though, or if you start to see root growth above the topsoil, don’t delay – get your spider plant into a new pot immediately.
How to repot a spider plant
Before we start, let’s make one thing clear. Repotting a spider plant is not mystic sorcery. It’s not rocket science or heart surgery. You can do this, even if you have no prior experience. We believe in you.
The way to repot a spider plant is fairly straightforward and we’ll cover them in these 5 steps:
1) Choose a pot
First – buy a pot that’s a little larger than the current one – 2 inches bigger in diameter is ideal. Like clothes and credit cards, you want something that will feel like it has a luxurious amount of room to it, but not one that swamps or has too much space. As we say, the spider plant thrives with a little constriction, so you don’t want to put it in a vast flowerpot all of a sudden. Think of the difference between paddling in a swimming pool where you can stand up and being suddenly thrown into the deep end. Baby steps is the game you need to play when it comes to pot size and your spider plant.
So – you have your pot. You need to check it out before you begin the pot move. In particular, check its drainage holes. You’re not going to want a totally enclosed flowerpot, because while it likes a drink, and saves water in its tuberous roots, the spider plant is not a fan of overly wet soil. It’s the equivalent of a baby – it may well be made of 80% water and thirsty for milk, but let it sit in a wet diaper for a couple of hours and see how cranky it gets.
So – check out the drainage holes, make sure there are enough of them and that they’re big enough to provide adequate drainage.
2) Potting soil
You’ll need some potting soil on hand, ready to bed your spider plant comfortably in. Ideally, because the root system will be embedded in the soil from the smaller pot, you want to take that soil with the plant, and give it just enough new soil to be secure and expand its root system in its new pot.
General-purpose potting soil should be fine for spider plants – it’s another element in their chilled-out nature that you don’t need to go hunting for extra-special soil for them. They’re quite content to get their roots into the cheap stuff.
3) Removing the plant
Ease the soil and roots away from the pot using a blunt knife or palette knife.
Gently prise your plant out of its existing pot by holding the base of the plant, turning it on its side and tapping the base of the pot. You should be able to gently pull the plant out of its pot.
I find it ideal if the plant has been watered several days prior to repotting. This means that the plant is not stressed when being repotted, and it’s not too wet which can make removal more difficult.
3) Examine the roots
Take a look at the root system. If it looks as though the plant has become rootbound (a complete solid mass of roots), you might need to trim some of the thread roots (the thin roots, not the thick tuberous roots that form the main ‘veins’ of the plant). This root-trimming is an acknowledged way to improve the health of rootbound plants – by cutting away some of the excess, you allow the main roots to thrive and grow in their new environment.
Be judicious – nobody wants an unnecessary trim – and don’t get carried away and start pruning the thick roots. Don’t worry, spider plants are well known for growing back a healthy root system. If it turns out you made a wrong cut, the plant will quite happily grow the trimmed roots again in its new environment.
Put some of the new, extra soil into the bottom of the new pot as an initial bed for the plant.
Place the plant in its new pot, submerging the roots in the new soil. Then add more soil around the sides and tuck it around the roots. The roots, as we’ve said, are at least half the story when it comes to spider plants, so make sure they’re bedded in well to their new environment.
Water the plant on repotting, so it has enough liquid in its new soil to fuel new root growth.
There is no need to fertilize the plant as the new soil will provide sufficient nourishment for your spider plant.
Then return the plant to its usual home space. This will keep the temperature and humidity the same and ensure the plant is not being put under too many stressful changes at once.
Congratulations, Green-Thumb – you just mastered how to repot a spider plant!