Spider plants are easy to grow as houseplants, and their green and variegated leaves will give your living space a dose of elegance. However, you must care for the plant, or its leaves can die or break. What can you do if your spider plant’s leaves are broken?
You must cut off broken spider plant leaves from the soil or stem. Broken leaves will not return to their healthy form but will continue to use up moisture and nutrients. Removing them will leave more water and nutrients for the healthy leaves and encourage new leaf growth.
In this article, I’ll teach you every care detail on how to keep your spider plant free of broken leaves so that you can maintain its beauty. I will also tell you why spider plant leaves break.
How to Remove Broken Spider Plant Leaves
You may wonder if you can leave broken leaves on the plant. Unfortunately, broken leaves on a spider plant won’t regenerate and become healthy again. You must prune dead leaves as soon as you notice them, as leaving them on the plant can be detrimental.
Here are the reasons you must remove broken spider plant leaves:
- Broken spider plant leaves are not yet dead and will keep taking moisture and nutrients from the plant. As such, leaving a broken leaf on the plant allows it to take up water and nutrients that would otherwise support the healthy leaves or new leaf sprouts.
- Broken leaves left on the plant will make it lose its elegance. Removing them restores the spider plant’s beauty.
- Damaged leaves are weak and more prone to pests and fungal infections. Removing broken leaves will protect the rest of the plant from pests and fungi.
- Once a stalk is broken, it will no longer produce chlorophyll for the rest of the plant. Chlorophyll is a pigment that supports the photosynthesis process. The broken leaf can’t convert energy from light sources without chlorophyll, affecting overall plant health.
Now that you know it’s necessary to get rid of these leaves, follow these steps to remove broken spider plant leaves:
- Find a pair of sharp plant shears. Dull shears will need more force, causing damage to the base of the plant. Make sure your plant shears are sharp!
- Clean the blades of the shears. You’ll want to clean the shear blades with rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball if the tool has been used with other plants. This will prevent the spread of plant diseases.
- Observe the stalk for damage. Check how much of the stalk has wilted or is broken. Only consider pruning the leaf when more than half its length shows signs of damage.
- Trim the broken leaf close to the soil or stem. Don’t pull on the broken stalk, as you risk compromising the other healthy parts of the plant. If you have many broken spider plant leaves, remove only 20% of the damaged leaves at a time. Doing so will help the plant adjust better to the change.
After clearing up the damage, you may want to consider moving your spider plant to a hanging pot for your spider plant as a preventative measure instead of leaving it on a table or plant stand. Hanging the plant will keep it safe from human and pet actions that can cause the plant’s leaves to break.
What Causes a Spider Plant’s Leaves to Break?
The primary reason a spider plant’s leaves break is poor plant maintenance. The wanting care is mainly related to watering and lighting.
Read on to find out what causes a spider plant’s leaves to break.
Too much water will make the potting soil soggy, causing the leaves to get mushy and break easily. Waterlogged soil also encourages root rot, which weakens the leaves and causes the plant to wilt and die. Spider plants grow well in evenly-watered and well-draining soil.
Misting your spider plant frequently can also worsen the health issues associated with overwatering, as it can encourage pests and pathogens to thrive in the plant’s weakened foliage.
Leaving your spider plant for an extended period without water will dehydrate the leaves and weaken them. Weak leaves break easily with a gust of wind or when you handle the plant. To know if your spider plant is underwatered, touch the soil and water your plant if the soil feels dry to your fingers.
To be more precise, you can use a moisture meter that does not require batteries. A reading below level 3 points to underwatering.
A common sign of underwatering is if your spider plant doesn’t grow roots.
If you’re unsure whether you’re overwatering or underwatering your plant, check out my other article here: Overwatering vs. Underwatering Plants (Signs and Fixes)
Exposure to Extreme Sunlight
Exposing a spider ivy to intense, direct sun will dry out the leaves, causing them to turn brown and brittle. Spider plants do well under indirect, moderate to low sunlight. These plants don’t require much natural light to grow, which is why they are great indoor plants.
Spider plants enjoy growing on soil that is only slightly acidic, with pH levels between 6.0-6.5. High levels of acidity in the soil compromise the availability of nutrients like magnesium, phosphorous, and nitrogen, causing the plant’s stalks to be unhealthy and prone to breakage.
Tap water is bad for spider plants, as the water contains traces of chlorine and fluoride. Consistently watering the plant with chemically treated water will weaken the leaves, causing them to break.
You must avoid watering your plant with water directly from the tap. You can reduce the amount of tap water salts and chemicals by leaving the water in a can overnight or up to 24 hours before using it to water the plant.
Alternatively, you can use reverse osmosis (RO) or deionized water which are free from chlorine and fluorine.
Root rot in spider ivy can be caused by overwatering or by bacterial and fungal infections. Brown spots on leaves are the primary indicator of root rot, leading to brittle leaves and a higher risk of breakage.
Look out for a foul smell from the soil, as this is another indicator your plant has a fungal or bacterial infection.
Spider plants can be attacked by pests such as black and green aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. These pests suck moisture from the leaves, causing them to wilt. Spray a mixture of water and mild soap or neem oil periodically to keep pests away from your plant.
A pot-bound plant has roots that form a large, tangled mass, encircling the pot and limiting the space for further growth. The compacted roots disrupt water uptake, causing unhealthy stalks to die quickly.
Pot-bounding is one of the reasons you should consider splitting your houseplant.
Extreme Temperature Changes
Extreme temperature fluctuations can affect your spider plant due to the stress of consistently adjusting to the surrounding climate. This stress causes a situation similar to contracting and expanding, which will weaken the leaves and cause them to break.
Getting to Know Spider Plants
The spider plant, or Chrolophytum comosum, is a perennial herbaceous and belongs to the same family as the asparagus garden plant. It is thought to have originated in South Africa and goes by other names such as ribbon plant and spider ivy.
The spider plant derives its household from the plantlets (offsets) that grow on trailing stems. These plantlets resemble spiders and are sometimes called ‘pups.’
This plant has narrow green leaves interspersed with yellow or white stripes. They arise from a central point in the soil and appear to fold downwards in the middle. With its attractive foliage, the spider plant has become a top choice for work tables.
The root system has rhizomes that help store water, enabling the plant to survive for some time without being watered.
The most common spider plant types include:
The “Milky Way” variety has green leaves with a cream or white center. The foliage color makes them appear lighter than other types in the species.
“Variegatum” is a variant that has white margins around its broad stalks. The larger leaves could be why this type of spider plant has fewer ‘spiders’ than other types.
This “White Stripe” spider plant has a white or cream line that runs down the central leaf vein. The line fades away as the plant ages, turning the stalks yellow or cream.
“Vittatum” is species that has large, dark-green leaves with a central white or cream midrib. It develops slower than the other spider plant species.
While the spider plant thrives well with little care, its leaves are delicate and can break easily when its growth conditions are not met.
Spider plants are an elegant perennial herbaceous in the Asparagus family that’s easy to grow as a houseplant.
If your spider plant has broken leaves, the only solution is to cut them off. Cutting off broken leaves allows new leaf sprouts and the remaining healthy leaves to absorb more moisture and nutrients.
Although spider plants can be grown with minimal care, they require attention to thrive and keep their sheen. Lack of proper maintenance can cause their delicate leaves to break.