Spider plants and devil’s ivy have scary names, but easy to grow

The itsy bitsy spider grew down the windowsill. Pardon me, as I take liberties with the nursery rhyme words, but know that I did the finger climb and used a singsong voice as I was writing.

I am thinking of spiders, specifically spider plants. I am not the only one; spider plants are among the most popular of all houseplants. One look and you know it is named after the shoots, or spiderette, that grow downwards from the mother plant — reminiscent of a spider’s web.

Just like spiders, this is one tough plant and can live without much attention. There are two varieties: a green and cream striped, and a solid green leaf. The slender leaves can be as long as 1.5 feet and gently arch from the center of the plant.

Ideally, the spider plant likes indirect sunlight and cool temperatures. These spiders don’t like wet feet, and it is OK to let the soil dry out between waterings.

There is no need to worry about repotting the mother plant; it will grow best with the roots contained in a smallish pot. When the roots appear on top of the soil, it is time to repot to a larger container. Another trick, if the mother plant is not as full as you would like: add a few spiderettes to the original pot.

When the mother plant is mature with enough stored energy, it will produce spiderettes, pups, or baby plants — you pick the name. I choose mother plant and spiderettes, well, just because I think it is a fun way to think of the mature plant and new tender plants.

The easiest way to propagate is to plant the spiderette directly in the soil. The proper way would be to leave it attached to the mother plant until settled in the new pot, but I have always just repotted as I was trimming the mature plant.

Remember, this plant is tough — it will grow either way.

Spider plants are ideal for hanging pots or a high shelf where the leaves and spiderettes can cascade down and add interest to the interior. Don’t worry if the leaf tips turn brown; if you are sticking to your watering schedule, the plant is still healthy.

The brown ends can be a result of fluoride and salt buildup from using tap water. If necessary, you can flush or leach the roots by running water through the pot several times, then letting it drain completely.

Keeping with the spooky October theme, another plant that will grow and thrive anywhere is devil’s ivy — or Pothos. This variegated vine is hardy and a good plant for beginners and experienced plant lovers. The shiny heart-shaped leaves are pretty.

As the vine grows, it will curl around the container and begin to drape over the sides. Give it room to wander, and it will add a touch of green to any surface.

Spider plants and devil’s ivy may have scary names, but both are easy to grow — and despite their names, will bring years of joy. Plus, what fun to pass along spiderettes from your mother plant to friends and others.