Why is My Spider Plant Pale and Limp? [ANSWERED]
Spider plants can appear pale and limp for a number of reasons, such as:
- stress from inappropriate water and lighting conditions,
- insufficient nutrients and growing space, or
- an infestation of pests.
Today, on the Garden Bench Top, our mission is to help you diagnose the cause of your ailing spider plant. Not only are we going to identify the causes of your sad spider plant, we will suggest solutions that you can implement straight away.
However, to give you the best chance of success in reviving your spider plant, we first need to work on your approach to the problem.
How to Revive Your Spider Plant
When one of our community members has a problem with their plant, there is one question we always ask them…What would Sherlock Holmes do?
We find taking a leaf out of the good doctor’s book always yields results, and actually makes you a better gardener.
When you look at your problem from the perspective of a detective, it does two things:
- removes emotion out of the equation, and
- forces you to take a step back and analyze the whole scene from a new perspective. You begin to look for clues (or symptoms) like a detective would. And once you have identified the symptoms, you can then identify the likely causes.
From there, well…it’s elementary my dear Watson. Using the cause, you can determine the best solution(s) to implement from this troubleshooting guide.
So, with this in mind, let’s grab our magnifying glasses and start at the beginning – the symptoms.
Symptoms: Pale and Limp Spider Plant
The good news is, if you have read this far, you have already completed the first step of Sherlock’s process.
Even if you didn’t intend to, you have already started your journey as a professional garden detective. You have instinctively started to look for clues – in this case, your spider plant appears limp and paler than normal.
For those that need a bit of guidance as to what limp and pale spider plants look like:
- A healthy spider plant has leaves that grow vertically, eventually arching away from the center of the plant like a green water fountain. Whereas limp spider plants have outer leaves that appear flat, that rest on the topsoil or on the edges of their pots.
- Healthy spider plants showcase vibrant green leaves, with prominent yellow or cream stripes running down the center and outer edges. While pale spider plants have dull leaves, that are light green. In addition, the yellow and cream markings are less distinguishable.
Why is my Spider Plant Pale and Limp – The Causes
In this section we will tackle steps 2 and 3 of the Mystery of the Pale and Limp Spider Plant.
We will investigate the potential causes for the symptoms you observed. Following each cause, we’ll suggest solutions and remedies that will help to breathe new life into your spider plant.
Spider plants are generally quite resilient to changes in lighting conditions.
If you have placed your spider plant in a position with insufficient light, you won’t notice anything immediately. However, as time progresses, you may begin to observe changes in your plants’ leaves, like droopiness and gradual loss of color.
The reason for these changes is the lack of light. Poor light affects your spider plants’ ability to function properly. It hinders your plants’ ability to photosynthesize, which limits the amount of energy (or food) it can produce for itself.
Resulting in a very sad looking spider plant.
The obvious answer is to reposition your spider plant to a more sunny position.
However, be warned that direct sunlight can also be detrimental to a spider plants’ health.
The best lighting for spider plants is a position where they can bathe in plenty of indirect light for approximately 6 – 8 hours of light per day. They will also tolerate short periods of dappled sunlight in the early morning or late evening. The key is to avoid excessive light.
Another reason your spider plant may be looking pale and flat is due to a lack of minerals and nutrients.
Spider plants, like all plants, need a regular source of nutrition to maintain proper function. This is particularly important for spider plants in pots or containers.
Spider plants are not particularly precious when it comes to fertilizer. An all-purpose fertilizer will do the job. We recommend using a fertilizer that contains nitrogen, which spider plants need to maintain their vibrant appearance.
If remembering to feed your plants’ fertilizer is a challenge, try using slow release fertilizer pellets. They are the perfect solution for time – poor or forgetful gardeners. They contain exactly the same ingredients, but are dripped fed to your plants over a longer period of time.
Implementing a regular feeding schedule will help avoid any future nutrient deficiencies and keep your spider plant looking vibrant and healthy.
To help us remember to feed our plants, we schedule a reminder on our online calendar to email us each morning that the plants need to be fed. Online reminders are useful in that you can do some forward planning and space out the feedings according to the time of the year (less frequently in colder months and more frequent in summer months)
Water Stressing your Spider Plant
Sometimes, giving the right amount of water to your spider plant can feel like a bit of a Goldilocks and the Three Bears scenario.
Too much water will stress your spider plant, causing it to look pale and limp. Another common symptom your plant will exhibit with too much water is browning and burn like marks on the leaves.
In addition, overwatering can also cause soggy wet soil, leading to more problems like pests and root rot.
On the other extreme, under watering is quickly going to lead to a pale and drooping plant. All plants need water, and the first signal when plants don’t receive enough water is limp leaves. A thirsty spider plant will generally look weak and fragile.
So, what are you supposed to do?
How do you get the over/under water balance right for your plants? Or as a little golden haired girl would put it…”How do you get it just right?”
We like to use a method that has not let us down – called the soil moisture finger test. It is a simple and effective technique that indicates when to water your plants.
Simply dig your finger about an inch deep into the topsoil around your spider plant and test the moisture levels. If soil sticks to your finger as you pull it out, there is still moisture present. If your finger comes out relatively clean, then it is time for water.
Root Bound Spider Plants
Another potential reason your spider plant is not happy, is because it has outgrown its current container or pot.
Besides the overall limp and pale look of your plant, a big tell-tale sign your plant is ready for an upgrade is roots protruding from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.
Spider plants that have roots that are bound and crowded will choke, and eventually die. The roots form a dense mat, which will make it hard for the plant to receive nutrients and the necessary oxygen exchange from the soil.
The quickest way to remedy a root bound spider plant is to remove the plant from the current container. Before repotting your plant, carefully tease the roots out from the tight root-ball using your fingers. Don’t be afraid to break the occasional root, as bad cases of bound roots will be very dense and tangled.
Then grab some good quality fresh soil and replant your spider plant in it’s new, bigger home.
Sometimes the quality of the water you are using can cause your spider plants to look less than average.
Particularly if you use tap water, as some plants can be sensitive to the minerals in water, like fluoride.
We recommend finding yourself a source of filtered or distilled water. By removing any unnecessary minerals and chemicals from the water, you can sleep well at night knowing you are not slowly poisoning your plants.
An alternative is to collect rain water in a water tank to use for your plants. Nothing is better than nature’s purest form of water right?