Spider plants (and their adorable plantlets) have graced shelves, windowsills and bookcases in our homes for more than 200 years.
Graceful, fast growing and adaptable, the plants are famously forgiving and hard to kill. With those credentials, it’s no surprise that they’re perennially popular among houseplant first-timers.
But every plant has its own issues. And with spider plants, that often tends to be leaning or falling over for one reason or another.
Sometimes, a spider plant will flop or fall over because it has grown top-heavy. Alternatively, it can develop a pronounced lean toward sunlight, especially if kept in low light or not periodically turned. Repotting a spider plant without firming down the soil can also make it more likely to fall over.
Why is your spider plant falling or leaning over?
To get your wonky plant standing straight again, you need to get to the bottom of the cause. The most likely reason is probably going to be one of the following:
Take a good look at the shape and structure of your plant. Is it standing fairly firm but growing unevenly, with more leaves over on one side?
If it is, it’s likely your plant has been growing toward the light. This is either because it’s seeking more light, or has sat in the same spot for a long time without being rotated.
Spider plants, though not fussy, are at their happiest in a well-lit spot – ideally out of direct sunlight.
Find your plant a suitably bright new home, giving it a quarter turn once a week to encourage more symmetrical growth.
If the growth is fairly even all around but the plant has flopped to one side, it could be because the plant has become top-heavy.
Does the plant seem lanky and unable to support its own weight? This can be a consequence of overheating. Has the plant been baking in direct sunlight?
If the leaves are shrivelling and dying too, it’s almost certainly the case that the air has been too hot and the compost too dry.
Move the plant to a cooler spot and keep the compost moist. Water the plant consistently 2-3 times a week in summer and once a week in winter.
Is the plant wilting rather than falling over? Do the leaves themselves look droopy rather than the whole plant tilting to one side?
Drooping or wilting is most likely to be from underwatering. Check your plant’s soil. If it’s bone dry give it a good soak, immersing the pot in water for 10 minutes or so.
Once it’s dripped dry, return it to its saucer or pot cover. To help it stay perky, keep the compost moist, letting the surface dry between waterings.
Loose soil around roots
Have you recently repotted your plant? If the roots haven’t yet had time to reestablish, this might be why your spider plant is falling over.
Did you use a good-quality potting soil and firm it down well after planting? Soil that’s too open or loose around the roots may not be giving the plant a firm enough foundation.
Don’t worry, you won’t need to repot your plant again. You can straighten it up in its pot without doing it any harm.
Straighten up your spider plant without repotting
Providing your plant is falling or leaning over rather than wilting, you can manually straighten it up. You shouldn’t need to repot it, though it’s an option if the lean is very pronounced.
Holding around the base of the plant to support it, use your other hand to firm down the soil. If your plant is leaning over to the left, push down the soil to the right of the plant (and vice versa).
Once it’s standing straight, give the soil all around it another firm push to help the plant bed in nice and securely.
If you find the soil is already firm around the roots, you can gently tease the plant upwards to loosen it before tilting it in the direction you need it to go.
Again, make sure to firm the soil down once the plant is standing upright.
Should you stake a spider plant?
As a rule, spider plants don’t typically need support. But if you did want to give your newly straightened plant some extra reinforcement, a stake will help keep it centred in the pot.
A spider plant that’s falling over often looks more serious than it is. Depending on the cause, the plant can usually be straightened up. Keep it well watered and well lit but out of direct sun, firm soil around the roots and turn it 90 degrees once a week and you’ll keep it on the up and up!