Spider plants are an excellent addition to any house plants’ collection, even for first-time gardeners. They are hardy, low-maintenance, and extremely durable. However, not even they are immune to improper watering or poor environment-related conditions, and if not looked after properly, can die.
If your spider plant died, it is likely due to improper watering, lack of sun, or poor soil quality. Some environmental factors such as humidity and the presence of chlorine in the water can also contribute to a spider plant’s death. Other culprits might be pests, infections, and root rot.
With prompt intervention, there might still be something you can do to save your plant. Read on to learn how to diagnose and potentially cure your plant.
Spider Plants: An Overview
Spider plants, known with the formal name of Chlorophytum Comosum, are extremely common container house plants, mainly loved for the fresh look they can give to any room.
However, first-time gardeners are also appreciated because they are incredibly easy to care for and maintain. Indeed, they are not particularly fussy regarding environmental, light, watering, and soil conditions – and they grow easily in the US Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 9 to 11.
However, even if highly durable, spider plants might be affected by certain environmental factors that can cause them to fall ill. Without immediate care, this can lead to the plant’s death.
This can happen for several reasons, and if you are not sure why your plant died, it is best to evaluate the look of your plant. Below you will find some reasons and symptoms of the illness that is killing your plant.
Overwatering Your Spider Plant Might Cause Root Rot
As we have seen, spider plants are extremely low-maintenance additions for the garden of any first-time gardener. But there is one aspect that you should care for the most: the watering routine of your plant.
Spider plants don’t need excessive watering, and they can easily survive in winter with just occasional watering. In summer, instead, it is always best to increase the rate at which you water the plants’ soil.
However, independently from how much water you feed your plant, it is essential to ensure that the pot is complete with an efficient drainage system. You can easily verify the drainage system’s quality by looking for the holes at the bottom of the pot.
Without a proper drainage system, the water is likely to remain at the soil’s bottom, soaking it with stagnant liquids. When this happens, your plant’s roots might be immersed in such a liquid for days at a time.
In turn, two consequences are likely to happen:
- The roots get surrounded by water, and they cannot absorb any more oxygen from the surrounding soil.
- The stagnant water does not allow for new nutrients to penetrate through the soil. So, the plant’s roots won’t have any of these nutrients to absorb.
Stagnant water can also be the leading cause for the proliferation of bacteria and fungi. When this happens, your plant will start to be affected by root rot.
Root rot is the rotting of the roots of the plants. When these are impaired, they won’t be able to absorb nutrients and oxygen, causing the death of the plant.
The majority of the species can also be affected by this condition, which is one of the most severe ones – and can lead to the death of the plant if not immediately treated.
Underwatering Your Spider Plant Can Lead to Lack of Nutrients
While spider plants are fairly tolerant toward low-water conditions, it is important to resolve this issue quickly. Indeed, the lack of water for prolonged time frames can cause the plant not to have the essential nutrients the plant needs to develop and grow.
Usually, the death of spider plants as a consequence of the lack of water happens in the transition period into the good season. This is the period of the year in which you should change your plant’s watering routine to adapt it to a different climate condition.
In summer, due to the higher temperatures and lower humidity, it is necessary to increase the level and frequency of waterings to supply your plant with enough nutrients.
If you have not treated your plant immediately, it is possible that it is now dying.
Check on the Quality of the Water
Spider plants cannot be considered fully or high-maintenance. However, they are extremely sensitive to the quality of water you are feeding them.
One of the most important factors you should be careful of is the level of chlorine in the water. Chlorine is a chemical that can be extremely harmful to a plant because it converts in chloride when placed in contact with the plant’s soil. And that is the form in which it becomes absorbed by the plant.
Soil and waters that are affected by chlorine the most in a dry area that is frequently irrigated or near roads commonly treated with salt in winter. In these areas, the plants that naturally grow in the soil can seriously be harmed by this chemical.
However, chlorine is also present in tap water. Indeed, most countries consider water with a presence of chlorine up to 4 milligrams per liter safe to drink, as the CDC reports.
While these levels are considered safe for humans, house plants might not be able to tolerate such high levels. Among the most common symptoms of chlorine toxicity are:
- Scorched leaves
- Burned leaves
- Presence of brown or dead tissue on edges and tips of the leaves.
- Bleached-looking leaf tissue
- Smaller leaves – if the chlorine has affected the plant’s growth
- Young leaves that turn yellow and fall early
Your Spider Plant Might Have Suffered From Environmental Stress
Spider plants won’t need reporting or pruning often, since, as we have mentioned, they are extremely low-maintenance. Nonetheless, you will sometimes need to move them onto a better-lit place or a more suitable pot.
In this case, the plant can suffer from stress and start looking wilted or yellowing. If you have noticed any of these signs, it is essential to leave the plant resting for some time until it regains its health.
During this time, you should avoid pruning it, changing its water schedule, or even move it to another spot in the house.
Some of the conditions that would have caused your spider plant to suffer from stress are:
- Moving house
- Moving room or spot
- Change in the environment
- Changes in the water routine
- Changes in the climate or humidity level
Check on the Room’s Humidity Levels
Spider plants thrive in humid environments – if the humidity level in the room changes, the plant’s health might be affected too.
Indeed, plants need moisture to replenish the levels of nutrients lost through the leaves’ transpiration process. If the plant’s surrounding environment is too dry, the plant will only be losing nutrients since it cannot absorb fresh ones fast enough.
Especially as the seasons change, if you realize that the level of humidity in the room is becoming particularly low, there are some implementations you can try to keep your plant healthy.
Some suggestions are:
- Group several house plants together. This will allow them to create a micro-ecosystem in which they will be able to auto-regulate the humidity level.
- Spray the plant’s leaves with water. This should be done several times a day to be effective, but it can help the plants replenish all lost nutrients.
- Create a humidity tray. This is a tray with water and pebbles in it, on which the plant’s pot will be located. As the water from the humidity tray evaporates, it will create humidity around your spider plant.
Spider Plants Thrive in Bright, Indirect Light
Another factor that might have compromised your plant’s health is the amount and quality of light it receives. Just like many other types of houseplants, spider plants need natural light to produce chlorophyll.
When they suffer from a lack of light, spider plants will struggle to turn the nutrients absorbed from the potting mix and water into food. Therefore, they won’t be able to absorb it as supplements and start wilting.
Other signs that your plant is malnourished are yellowing leaves and leaves’ discoloration.
If you have noticed such signs in your plants, you might consider moving them onto a sunnier, better-lit spot. Even if your plant can seem dead at first, this change might help you breathe new life into it.
However, you should make sure that the light is not too direct or hurting the leaves. In this case, they might start looking burned or scorched (brown tips and edges).
Overheating Can Cause the Leaves to Burn
In terms of perfect temperatures, when caring for a spider plant, you should keep in mind that:
- They can tolerate temperatures as low as 35°F (1.7°C).
- Spider plants might survive, but they are not likely to grow in temperatures below 65°F (18°C).
- Spider plants can tolerate temperatures as high as 90°F (32°C).
- Prolonged exposure in high temperatures will increase the transpiration rate. So increasing humidity levels might be required.
While spider plants can live in most temperatures – especially if kept inside a home – you should be mindful of the characteristics seen above at certain times of the year. For example, when the season is changing or as the first frost approaches, it is essential to move the plant onto a more suitable spot.
Spider Plants Might Need Repotting
Just like most other house plants’ species, repotting might be necessary. If your spider plant is dying, it might be because its roots have overgrown the pot. This condition is referred to as “root bound,” and it is easily identifiable just by looking at your plant’s roots.
Indeed, you can easily see if the roots have started to emerge from the surface of the soil or to grow outside of the drainage holes at the pot’s bottom. If this happens, your plant might not be able to absorb the necessary nutrients from the soil and start wilting.
If this condition is not addressed quickly, a spider plant can suffer from nutritional deficiency and might die. An easy solution to this spider plants’ problem is repotting the plant onto a larger container and replenishing the soil. Adding a little fertilizer after the repotting might also help it regain energy and nutrients.
Your Spider Plant Might Suffer From Poor Soil Quality
If you can’t find what is wrong with your spider plant, you might need to look into the soil’s quality. Generally, spider plants love moist soil, and they won’t thrive in a soil that is too dry. However, the level of moisture in the soil must be regulated correctly. Without proper aeration and drainage, it is easy for the plant to start lacking the essential nutrients it needs to thrive.
You should not worry about the type of soil that you should be using for your spider plant. However, a slightly alkaline potting mix with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.2 can help you look after your spider plant best. Of course, if the soil does not supply your spider plants with all the nutrients it needs to grow healthy and strong, you might opt for adding fertilizer.
However, it is important to keep in mind that spider plants do not require such additional supplements very often. Generally, adding a dose of fertilizer every three weeks will be enough for you to replenish the soil of all its nutrients. In any case, if you add fertilizer to your spider plant’s soil to speed up its growth or reinstate its health, it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
You are likely to find them in the container of the fertilizer, and they will tell you all about creating the perfect blend or the ideal dosage. Among the most common kinds on the market, you will find soluble fertilizer and granular time-release products, which are both suitable for your spider plant.
When picking a fertilizer, you should make sure that it does not contain any fluoride, and the quantities of boron included are limited.
So, even if you decide to supply your plant with regular fertilizer doses, it is essential to keep in mind that these substances could also harm your plant. Indeed, it is easy to cause the plant’s death by adding too much fertilizer to the soil.
If your plant has experienced the negative effects of fertilizer, you are likely to notice a recognizable leaves’ tips’ burn. These are similar to sunburns, but they are produced by the level of chemicals in the soil. If not addressed immediately, this problem can easily lead to the death of your spider plant.
Spider Plants Might Suffer the Attack of Pests
The last reason for which your spider plant might be dying, or it is already dead could be relatable to pests. Indeed, as we have seen, spider plants are extremely durable and forgiving plants. However, just like any other house plant, they can suffer the effects of pests infestations.
If not addressed immediately, these issues can easily lead to the death of the plant. When treating your spider plant, it is essential to keep in mind that the first step should always be removing the other house plants from the same spot.
Indeed, bugs, insects, and pests are likely to jump from a plant to another, and they can end up infesting your whole collection.
Below are the most common types of plant pests that are likely to attack your spider plant.
Aphids are very common pests, and they can be a problem even if you include other house plants in your collection. These soft-bodied insects tend to pierce the leaves’ tender tissue, feeding on the liquid inside them.
Just like other pests, they create honeydew, a substance resulting from the feeding. While in the beginning, they nest in hidden parts of the leaves, you are likely to notice them when they start to also crawl across the upper or more exposed surface of the leaves.
Among the most efficient ways of freeing your plant from aphids is rinsing the spider plant with a water spray or stream that can wash them away. However, dabbing the parts affected with isopropyl alcohol might also be necessary.
If you have noticed a white, cotton-like substance on the surface of your spider plant’s leaves, you might be dealing with mealybugs. Mealybugs are white insects that feed on sup and create honeydew as a byproduct of their feeding.
An infestation of mealybugs can prevent your plant from completing photosynthesis, which can lead to the plant’s premature death. Since, if disturbed, mealybugs can jump onto other plants in the house, you might need to consider extreme measures such as insecticides and chemicals to get rid of them.
Whiteflies are extremely common pests that can easily become a threat to many of your houseplants’ health and life. In the case of spider plants, you should keep in mind that they probably come from greenhouses. In greenhouses, whiteflies represent the most common issue cultivators have to deal with. And, if a young spider plant is affected, it is likely to develop more serious symptoms later on in life.
Just like spiders, Spider mites are closely related to some members of the arachnid family. They are extremely common attackers, and you are likely to experience at least one infestation during your spider plant’s life.
These animals are extremely small, and they can create webbing – which is the most easily recognizable size that your plant is fighting an attack from. Just like other spider plants’ pests, these insects feed on the sup and soft plant tissue.
A spider plant that is infected by spider mites will likely turn yellow and appear wilted. To get rid of spider mites, you might try to rinse your plant with warm water. However, in this case, this does not work; you might decide to use insecticides or miticide formulas.
Diagnosing Your Spider Plant From Its Look
Due to the many reasons for which your spider plant might have died, it is important to learn how to diagnose your dying plant. Even if you might not be able to help it, you could still manage to save your other spider plants or other house plants. Here is how.
Does Your Spider Plant Look Wilted?
The most common symptom you might notice on a dying spider plant is wilted or drooping leaves. Alone, this characteristic can indicate many conditions, such as:
- Lack of sun
- Lack of nutrients
- Beginning of root rot condition
Wilting can also be due to stress and repotting – and, alone, it does not mean that your plant is dead. In fact, it is extremely unlikely for a spider plant to die, and it will only do so if symptoms or illnesses are not treated.
However, if your spider plant’s leaves are wilting, there is definitely something you can improve in its environment. Check out the other symptoms below.
Is Your Spider Plant Yellowing?
If your spider plant’s leaves are wilting and yellowing, it is usually due to a lack of sun, nutrients, and overwatering. In all three cases, your plant’s roots and leaves cannot absorb enough supplements from the sun and the soil to complete the photosynthesis process.
Since this is the process through which all plants transform nutrients from the natural elements into food, your spider plant is likely starving. So, you might decide to move it onto a better-lit spot, check on the soil’s quality, or implement a more suitable watering routine.
Are the Leaves Turning Brown?
Depending on where the brown spots are located on the leaves, you can get an indication of the condition that is affecting your spider plant.
- Browning leaves’ tips. This is a clear indication that your plant is suffering from root rot.
- Brown spots on the leaves’ center. This characteristic could indicate that the leaves are receiving too much sun, and they are getting burned.
- Brown or black spots. The plant might be affected by a pest or infection.
Did It Need Repotting?
Sometimes a spider plant might have died because it needed repotting. It is worth mentioning that spider plants usually don’t need a large container, especially because their growth rate is not extremely high.
But it can also happen that a spider plant becomes rootbound, and it is no longer able to absorb enough nutrients from the potting mix or soil. If the plant roots have outgrown the pot or emerged from the drainage holes, your plant needs repotting.
Do the Leaves Have Holes or Pests on Them?
If the leaves have holes or a white, cotton-like substance on them, it is likely that your plant has been fighting the attack of pests such as mealybugs.
Can You Still Save Your Spider Plant?
As we have seen, spider plants are incredibly hard to kill. Sometimes, your spider plant might seem dead because of its look, but it can be revitalized in just a few simple steps. Generally, it is always recommendable to try everything possible before giving up on your house plant. Indeed, the chances are that they just need better environmental conditions.
If you don’t know where to start, try one or more of the techniques below.
Try to Repot the Plant
If you have noticed that your plant has become rootbound or believe it needs a larger pot, repotting it might be an easy solution. You can do so by moving the plant in a bigger container and adding some fertilizer to the soil. Just ensure that you are not creating too much stress to your already-sick plant.
Learn how to successfully repot your spider plant in the video below:
Treat Root Rot Immediately
Root rot is among the leading causes of houseplants’ death. Since it starts right in the plants’ roots, it is easy for cultivators and gardeners to miss the telltale signs of this condition – at least, until it reaches the leaves.
At the same time, when the root rot starts to affect the leaves, it is already too late. Instead, if the season has changed or you have accidentally overwatered your plant, opt for immediately checking the pot. If there is stagnant water, repot the plant onto a better-aerated container and treat the roots that have already been affected.
Add Water and Ensure the Pot Has Proper Drainage
If you have just entered the good season, it is good practice to change the watering schedule and quantity. This is essential to ensure that your plant will not suffer from stagnant water and will always have all the necessary nutrients.
As we have seen, too much fertilizer can cause the death of the plant. At the same time, balanced additions to the soil can be essential to enrich it and offer the plant all the necessary sustainment. All this is especially crucial if you have not repotted the plant in a while or suffered from underwatering.
Adjust the Lighting
Spider plants love bright, indirect sunlight. If the lighting is not right, they will struggle to grow, propagate, and even remain healthy.
If you had noticed that your plant had started to look wilted as the season changed on when you moved it onto a new spot, opt for moving it onto a more suitable spot of the house.
Spider plants are extremely and pleasantly easy to care for, and killing them is extremely hard. Even if you have noticed that your plant is wilting or yellowing, there is always something you can do to save it. However, for this, it is essential to understand what it has caused it to suffer – and do so promptly.
You can usually find an easy-to-implement solution to save your plant, especially when it simply comes down to repotting it, changing the watering regime, and placing your plant in a better-lit location.