There’s a host of common spider problems and diseases that can hinder their health, and stunt their growth. Keeping your cat from eating your spider plant is one of the lesser common problems, but still something you ought to prevent.
A few of the more common problems you’re likely to encounter include the discoloration of the leaves, and a few easy to remedy diseases that are mostly caused by pesky sap-sucking pests.
A Run Down of the Pesky Problems and Diseases Known to Inflict Spider Plants
First, know that leaf curling on its own is not ‘necessarily’ a problem. Some species of spider plants have naturally curling leaves.
On straight-leaved spider plants, naturally, when the leaves curl inward, that’s a problem, but it’s almost always accompanied with additional symptoms that are more common (listed below). For curly spider plants, it’s keeping the leaves curly that can present a challenge.
The Tips of the Leaves Browning
Topping the list is brown leaf tips. It’s not what you want to see, yet it is an all too common problem. The cause is overly moist soil from overwatering, but it can also be caused by an excessive amount of salt accumulation, often from a build-up of fluoride or chlorine.
The more salts accumulate in the soil, the more limited drainage becomes. If your soil isn’t draining as it used to, it may require repotting in a fresh potting mix to give it the drainage required.
To prevent a repeat of the same in the future, water with either distilled water, or use harvested rainwater.
Low humidity can also contribute to brown leaf tips on spider plants. They get their moisture from the soil and through their leaves.
In the winter months, when humidity lowers significantly, that’s when spider plants turning brown or yellow are more common. Additional humidity is usually required in the winter.
Scorched Leaf Syndrome
This happens when you put the plant somewhere it’s exposed to too strong a light source. Direct light is not good for these. Bright and indirect is the way to go.
When the leaves are exposed to direct sun, or hot spots like near heating ducts, the leaves turn brown.
Holes in the Leaves
Holes are caused by something eating your spider plant. There’s a range of pests that do this and your spider plant will need to be treated. See the section below that covers pests.
Low light is a common cause of spider plant wilting. Similar to browning on the leaf tips, watering and humidity concerns can play a role in wilting too, but you’ll see other symptoms, rather than only the leaves wilting.
Another thing to check is that the roots aren’t crowding the pot. Roots can grow too big that they block the drainage hole, resulting in the soil staying moist for longer than it should. That then ties into the overwatering issue, when all the plant really needed was to be repotted for moisture to drain before the damage happened.
Diseases aren’t common problems provided you adopt good spider plant care. Left to their own devices in direct sunlight, resting on a saucer with stagnant water, grouped too closely together with other plants, or fertilized too heavily, conditions can become detrimental. To the point that these diseases set in.
Root rot typically occurs on spider plants only when the roots are left in standing water caused by poor soil quality, and/or inadequate drainage.
They’re so tender at the immature growing stage that the roots won’t be rigorous enough to survive the trimming required to give them a fighting chance.
Powdery mildew is a fungal infection and it’s more common on indoor plants when you have other plants moving between the garden and the indoors. Fungal spores spread.
A frequent cause of the white spots on indoor plants is the lack of air circulation. Anything you can do to improve airflow reduces the chances of this disease germinating and spreading.
For plants placed on saucers, remember to use it to catch drips, and not as a water collector. Stagnant water isn’t healthy for any plant!
Bacterial Leaf Blight
Bacterial leaf blight is one of the less common problems on spider plants grown indoors. For spider plant care outdoors, be more vigilant for brown or black spots on the leaves of these plants. The dark spots are akin to water lesions or blisters emerging on the leaves making them look like black spots.
They’re fungal spores and can be spread by the wind. Infected leaves should be pruned away and discarded to prevent spread.
As mentioned, this is more of a problem when growing spider plants outdoors where you have less control over the humidity levels, temperature, and air circulation.
Sooty mold is common among plant parents who aren’t clued up on the pest insects that coat the leaves in honeydew, disrupting the photosynthesis process. Learn about these pests next…
Pests that are Prone to Feasting on Spider Plants
Any insect that has the ability to pierce the leaves on plants, will be attracted to lush juicy leaves of the spider plant. Keep a watchful eye for the tell-tale signs of these taking refuge on the underside of the leaves.
They’re so small you’ll barely see them. You’ll notice the damage they do though.
Spider mites can be as tiny as 1/50th of an inch. The most common on spider plants are the red colored mite. There are different species though and they can be brown or yellowish in color.
Because of their tiny size, you’re unlikely to spot them. What’s more likely is you’ll see the webbing they leave on the plants.
If you have webbing on any of the leaves, that’s the mites. They leave trail of slivering webbing as they move around the plant, hide on the underside of leaves, and feed on the juices.
Before too long, you’ll notice the leaves start to turn limp, bronzing of the leaf surface and yellowing aren’t uncommon after these pests start feeding.
Aphids are only around 2 to 4 mm in size, yet despite their miniscule size, they can do tremendous damage to your houseplants. Not just spider plants.
Like mites, these have different colors, but indoors, you’re more likely to come across the greenfly or the blackfly. They are types of aphids.
There are a couple of ways to tell if your plant is infested with aphids. If you look closely with a magnifying glass, or the zoom function on your phone’s camera, some unique characteristics can be observed.
Aphids have an oval shaped abdomen with a single stylus to the front that they use to pierce the leaves of plants to begin feeding on the juices. To the back of them are a pair of cornicles which is where aphids excrete honeydew from. Honeydew is the excrement of aphids. It’s a sticky sugary substance that can attract ants.
If you see ants near your plants, know that they don’t eat plants. They feed on the honeydew of the insects that poop all over the leaves on plants.
There is a symbiotic relationship between ants and aphids and similar plant pests. In the wild outdoors, ants will farm aphids, and protect them from predatory insects so they can keep feeding on the honeydew.
Something else to know is that aphids shed their skin. If you’re noticing tiny white blobs stuck to the leaves of your spider plant, it’s possible that the white spots are the dead skin of aphids that are stuck to the honeydew on the leaves.
Mealybugs, like other pests are tiny, but much easier to spot. They can be round or oblong, but they’re white to light-gray in color and look like a tiny bit of cotton. And they multiply like crazy.
If you spot one, there’s likely more. The parts of the plant to inspect really closely are the nodes on the leaves, and the underside, particularly near the veins.
To get rid of these, you can pick them off with your fingers, or if you’re squeamish, use a pair of tweezers.
Whiteflies are common on all houseplants all-year round. They congregate on the underside of leaves. As soon as you move the leaves, you’ll see them hover around.
These are attracted to new growth such as when you plant up any spider plant babies, and/or, you’re fertilizing too much. Too much nitrogen in the soil promotes juvenile growth.
Scale insects, like whiteflies, are attracted to young, immature growth on houseplants. They’re full of energy for them.
These are also tiny, resembling brown specs on the leaf surface. But, they also leave behind a white fuzzy substance that are full of sugars. If those aren’t removed, fungal disease can set in.
Scale insects, like mealybugs, can be picked off the leaf surface.
That being said, regardless of which type of pest takes refuge on the leaves of your spider plant, there are simple ways to get rid of any bugs on indoor plants, and not all of them require insecticides.
That’s why, despite the common problems associated with spider plants, they’re still referred to as one of the easiest plants to grow and care for, and provide tremendous benefits to any room they adorn.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.