Chlorophytum, also known as the spider plant, is an evergreen perennial that is native to tropical and southern Africa. It is one of the world’s most popular house plants.
The plant can grow to a height of three feet and produces lance-like leaves that are bordered in a dark green colour, with a centre of pale yellow or cream. Slender stems can hang two to three feet over the edges of a hanging basket. They produce small, white, sweet scented flowers.
Chlorophytum is widespread in tropical Africa between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. It is also found in India and Burma. It can grow in woodland, grassland and bush land as well as degraded vegetation. Some species may grow in altitudes as high as 2,300 metres.
Chlorophytum is available all year round commercially in several cultivars. The most popular varieties are Mandaianum, which has a yellow stripe in the centre of its leaves; Vareigatum, which has white stripes down the sides of leaves and a green centre, and Vittatum, with a white stripe in the centre of curved leaves.
Chlorophytum is a genus of the Agavaceae, or Agave, African plant family. These are short-stemmed woody plants that thrive in regions with subtropical and tropical climates. Agave leaves produce a hard fibre and some species hold a sap that can be fermented into an intoxicating drink.
Chlorophytum may be cultivated from seed or from the plantlets (cuttings from an adult plant). It prefers a location away from direct sunlight, in moist and well-drained soil and a frost-free environment. It is very tolerant of shade. It needs good watering from spring through to autumn, but little watering during winter. The young plantlets may be planted outdoors during the summer, but they are not tolerant of aphids or frost. Mostly, Chlorophytum prefers to be pot bound.
Did You Know?
The dried roots of the Chlorophytum tuberosum species are used in Aryuvedic medicine, the traditional Hindu medical practice, as an aphrodisiac and a tonic.