Curly spider plants, with their distinctive appearance, are captivating additions to any indoor garden. To ensure they thrive and maintain their unique charm, it’s essential to understand how to water them correctly.
You should water your curly spider plant once a week or as soon as the top inch (2.5 cm) of the soil begins to dry. Factors such as temperature, humidity, and soil quality greatly determine how often you need to water your curly spider plant.
In this guide, I’ll explore the ideal watering routine for curly spider plants and consider various factors that influence their water needs.
Determining the Ideal Watering Routine
The good news is that curly spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum ‘Bonnie’) are relatively hardy and can take a bit of a beating from environmental factors. This means you have plenty of room for error, which makes curly spider plants ideal for beginners.
Nevertheless, you do want a good watering routine so that the plant can grow up to be as healthy, beautiful, and visually pleasing as possible. The best watering routine is one that’s personalized and specific to your location and situation.
For curly spider plants, you want to water until the soil is hydrated and damp but not so saturated with water that it begins to stagnate.
One thing to remember is to always use a pot with a drainage hole. Stagnant water kills even the more resilient plants by eating away at their roots. For this reason, you need to wait until the soil begins to dry up again before rewatering.
To learn your plant’s preferred watering schedule, you’ll need to employ trial and error. As mentioned, curly spider plants can be forgiving of a bit of neglect—but not in the long term.
Here’s how to design a watering schedule for your curly spider plant:
Gradual Watering with Cups
Water your plant gradually using cups. Stop when you see the excess water trickling out of the drainage hole. Record the number of cups it took to saturate the soil.
Check Soil Moisture
Check the soil moisture after 3-5 days. If you have a small pot, you may need to check sooner as the soil cannot hold much moisture.
Wait if the Soil Hasn’t Dried Enough
Wait for a few more days if the soil isn’t dry enough. Watering needs can vary depending on the size of your pot or the age of your plant. For a 6-inch (15 cm) pot, check if the top inch (2.5 cm) is dry. For larger pots, check the top 2 inches (5 cm).
Water When the Soil Is Dry
Water your plant again when the soil is dry enough. Take into account the number of cups it took to saturate the soil to avoid wasting water ad reduce the wait time for the soil to drain.
Regularly Re-Assess Moisture
After a few watering cycles, you’ll have a better idea of how often to water your curly spider plant. Make it a habit to check the soil using your fingers about 2 days before the next estimated watering schedule, as changes in temperature or humidity can affect how quickly the soil will dry up.
Adjust for Seasonal Changes
You can also record changes in the watering routine due to seasonal changes, as you will need to reduce the watering frequency in winter. This experience will help you understand your plant’s needs for the years to come. After all, these plants can live more than a decade with adequate care.
As a side note, and just in case you’re wondering, curly spider plants differ from regular spider plants. You can check out the differences between the two here: Curly Spider Plant Vs. Spider Plant: 6 Differences
Factors Influencing Watering Needs
Let’s take a look at the factors that determine how much water a plant needs:
We’ll go into some detail about these factors below, and I’ll share with you some interesting facts along the way, so let’s get started.
Temperature is probably the most important factor in determining a plant’s water needs. It directly influences the rate at which water leaves the soil via evaporation and the rate at which it leaves the plant body via transpiration.
It helps to be aware of the temperature of your plant’s surroundings. If you live in a high-temperature area, your curly spider plant and the soil around it will dry out noticeably faster, so you’ll have to water more frequently.
Curly spider plants can tolerate a bit of dry soil for a while, but frequent and extended periods of dehydration are a threat to their health.
Conversely, if you live somewhere cold, you probably won’t have to worry about being on top of your watering routine that much.
Like temperature, humidity affects how often you’ll have to water your plants. It influences the magnitude of evaporation and transpiration that can take place. The more humid the air, the less water your plant will need.
The mechanism by which this happens is complex, but here’s what you need to know: as the humidity increases, the air becomes more saturated with water molecules. This makes it increasingly difficult for evaporation to occur, so your plant and the surrounding soil lose less water over time.
Living in an area with high humidity can be pretty uncomfortable for us humans. But if it’s any consolation, at least your curly spider plant is enjoying it!
Curly spider plants, originating from southern Africa, have an exceptional affinity for humidity. Some experts even recommend placing them in rooms with humidifiers!
The type of soil you use is very important in determining how frequently you’ll have to water.
I’m not talking about nutrient composition and fertility in this case. Interestingly, that aspect of soil selection has a relatively low priority when it comes to curly spider plants. They’re adaptive and hardy and can settle down in pretty much any kind of decent-quality soil.
The aspect we want to look at is moisture retention. Some types of soil are considerably better at retaining moisture than others. Soils that can retain moisture are usually better than ones that can’t.
This not only applies to curly spider plants but most plants used in gardening today. Most plants appreciate having soil that retains moisture. However, avoid clayey or compact soil because it can be too wet and unsafe for the plant’s roots.
You can alter the moisture-retaining properties of existing soil with the use of additives. Some of the most common ways gardeners improve moisture retention in the soil are by adding compost or applying a layer of mulch around the base of their plants. Mulch and compost also improve soil fertility, so it’s doubly beneficial.
Signs of Overwatering and Underwatering
For better or worse, a large part of setting up a watering routine is trial and error. No, I’m not saying that you have to risk damaging your plants.
What I mean is that you’ll need to reevaluate the amount of water your plant needs after each of your first few watering cycles. You can get a pretty good idea of that based on the dryness of the soil and the condition of your curly spider plant.
Let’s take a look at signs of underwatering:
- Fading green color
- Weak and spindly growth
- Crisp, brown leaves
Signs of overwatering:
- Root rot
- Soft, brown, or black leaves
- Lifeless, damaged plant
- Soggy soil
When signs of either overwatering or underwatering do appear, you can be sure that something is wrong—especially considering how durable curly spider plants are.
Best Watering Practices for Curly Spider Plants
In addition to the watering frequency, there are other important watering tips you can use.
Let’s discuss some best practices related to watering curly spider plants.
Use Distilled Water
Hardy as they are, curly spider plants have a weakness of their own. This plant species is particularly vulnerable to the high quantities of salt in regular tap water. This won’t be noticeable immediately, but the salt will saturate the soil over time and begin to hurt the plant.
If your curly spider plant looks unhealthy and the problem is not related to sunlight or watering inadequacies, chances are your plant is dealing with salt buildup.
Try using distilled or filtered water in this case. Unfortunately, this can be an inconvenience if you’re growing curly spider plants on a large scale.
Avoid Watering Foliage Directly
The age-old advice of not watering the foliage is applicable to curly spider plants. A common myth suggests that watering foliage amplifies the effects of sunlight and leads to burns. That’s somewhat far-fetched.
There are a few main reasons you shouldn’t water the foliage directly. For one, it’s an inefficient use of water. It also increases the likelihood of disease (fungal growth, in particular).
Water Generously, Less Often
As a gardener, you may have thought about watering in lesser quantities more frequently. However, that’s ill-advised. Doing so results in the target plants foregoing their natural tendency to extend their roots downwards in search of water, developing a shallow root system.
This is a problem because shallow roots are more vulnerable to environmental damage and are unable to gather water from deeper parts of the soil. It will also take less time for the affected plant to succumb to a water shortage.
Water your curly spider plant when the upper 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) of the soil is dry. This usually translates to once a week if you experience average conditions and have suitable soil quality.
Water generously, but don’t allow water to stagnate. If you live in extreme conditions, it can be beneficial to devise a custom watering routine based on your specific environment.