Why is My Spider Plant Pale and Limp? (7 timely steps you need to do today)

a pale and limp spider plant sitting on a windowsill

Sharing is caring!

If you’re looking for a hanging plant to spice up your room, spider plants are it.

With the way their long variegated-looking, curly leaves are, it is too beautiful to not put in a hanging basket and hang it up.

But what good is a spider plant without the vibrant green and white leaves? And imagine the leaves looking dull and wilting?

So if you’re wondering, why is my spider plant pale and limp?

A spider plant’s leaves can become pale or limp when it has been overwatered, exposed to too much light (indoors), rootbound, suffering from a nitrogen deficiency, damaged by frost or sunburned, or there may be a pest infestation.

Please note that this article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Some quick tips on how to fix a pale and limping spider plant.

  • Do not allow the plant to dry out
  • Overwatering is much more likely to make it go limp;
    • If you’re unsure about whether or not your spider plant needs watering then wait a few days before checking again and err on the side of caution by leaving it alone;
  • Check that there’s enough air circulation around the pot’s roots and stems to avoid rotting.
    • If they seem wet at all then try removing some of those leaves so that new ones can grow in their place.
  • It may also be experiencing nitrogen deficiency from too many recycled waterings from tap water which has no nutrients added to it
    • Treat it with an organic fertilizer every now and then for best results! This should perk up its drooping leaves.

What’s the solution?! Give your poor potted plant some tender loving care with these beginner tips on how to fix your spidey problem; move it into an area that receives more natural sunlight/better lighting indoors or outside; repot it into fresh soil with plenty of drainage holes; add some dried leaves from other plants if you want extra flavor in the air around its roots and stems

What is unique about the spider plant?

Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum), or the airplane plant, are one of those hard-to-kill type of plants. You could neglect it to the fullest and it’ll still take a lot more to die. I love spider plants for their variegated curly leaves.

a close up of a healthy spider by following the steps in why is my spider plant pale and limp

They are often mistaken as a type of hanging plant, but these green beauties grow outwards and upwards in an umbrella-like shape to create clusters that resemble spider webs at their mature stage. They’re named after their resemblance to spiderwebs because they have fine hairs that give them this webby look and feel.

According to The Home & Garden Information Center (HGIC), chlorophytum comosum can grow up to 2½ feet wide and 3 feet long when placed in a hanging basket.

Their curls are extra cute when they’re plantlets. It makes me want to propagate a bajillion more just so I can place them in my propagation station. You can even have a hanging propagation station to motivate your plant obsession.

Read more here to learn how to get your spider plant to have babies.

So when it starts to lose its color and wilts, it makes me question my plant parenting skills.

But I have learned that there are several factors that play a role in why your airplane plant is looking pale and limp.

Why is my spider plant pale and limp?

Read on to find out why your spider plant is pale and limp and what you can do today to make it green and perky again.

Do spider plants need a lot of water?

Water is essential to all plants’ survival, and finding that correct balance can be a bit difficult. It may require some trial and error. But once you figure out their watering needs, your spider plant will thrive from here on out.

a close up of spider plant being grouped with other houseplants

The amount of water your plant will need depends on the following factors.

  • Seasons
  • Soil’s health
  • Whether the plant is indoor or outdoor
  • The amount of lighting
  • Stage of plant growth

How do I know when to water my spider plant?

Seasons will come and go. And learning how to adapt to the weather changes is important for your plants. Tropical plants will require more watering in the summer months than in the winter months. Tropical plants tend to go dormant in the cold. Think of it as a rest and recharge period.

Related: How to Prepare Indoor Tropical Plants for the Cold Weather

The summer months are considered their growing season and will need a little more attention from you than usual. Before the Spring season starts, you should check to see if your plant needs anything done. It can be anything from repotting, fertilizing, to just making sure the temperature is right.

When the weather is warmer (spring and summer), I tend to water the spider plant every few days.

But you’ll need to allow the soil to dry between watering, because too much moisture will cause root rot and yellowing of leaves.

Yes, signs of an overwater spider plant will lead to leaves turning yellow and droopy looking.

You can water sparingly in wintertime when indoor temperatures are lower than 65°F (18°C).

Water will take a lot longer to dry out in the wintertime than it does in the summer. I usually water spider plants once or twice in the colder months. I’ll still wait for the potting mix to dry out before I do water it so my watering schedule is never the same each month.

The best way to tell if the surface layer of soil has dried out enough for another good drink from your faucet is by digging down with your finger about an inch deep into the topsoil. If you feel any moistness at all then wait until it dries again before watering him well once again.

What kind of soil is good for spider plant?

Besides the weather changes, the potting mix quality also plays an important role in the leaves turning pale. Spider plants grow best with good drainage.

One of the main things you will need to do is ensure that your soil is well draining and has good aeration for your roots. I personally love Foxfarms organic soil.

This is my recipe for the best potting mix for spider plants. Feel free to adjust it any way you prefer.

  • Mix 3 parts organic potting soil
  • Add in 1 part perlite or pumice
  • Add a handful of this magical charcoal
    • I discovered this product when I was at a plant nursery and was so mad that I didn’t come across it sooner. I have yet to have any roots rotting due to overwatering so I will definitely be keeping this product for a while

Having a pot with drainage holes will also make a difference in watering. It’s there to prevent excess water from building up as well as informing you when to stop watering if you’re watering it from the top. This helps prevent overwatering and underwatering.

What kind of water do spider plants like?

Did you know that city water contains chlorine and fluoride, which can be harmful to plants?

vibrant spider plant leaves from the article, why is my spider plant pale and limp
Green Leaves Of Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Fluoride can build up over time. The buildup of fluoride can inhibit the plant’s ability to absorb the nutrients it needs from water, minerals, and carbon dioxide. It can even cause damage to parts of the plant. When this happens, your plant begins to die. This could be another reason why your spider plant is turning yellow.

And yes, there is a difference between city water, well water, bottled water, and rainwater.

I prefer rain water when possible, (its the closest resemblance to their tropical habitat) but if not, you can also prevent this by using either distilled or filtered water, both of which are chlorine and fluoride-free.

To fix the fluoride buildup: 

  • Use either rainwater you have saved in a barrel or bottled spring water.  
  • Pour the water through the plant’s soil, allowing it to drain completely. 
  • Do let the soil dry out before doing step #2 again. You wouldn’t to oversoak their roots.
  • Repeat the process a couple of times. 

You can prevent fluoride problems with your plant using rainwater you collect in a barrel or bottled spring water. Unless you live in an apartment, you can make your own rain barrel to save water for your plants quite quickly.

Also, make sure that you’re using room temperature water on a regular basis. If the water is too hot or too cold, it can send a shock wave to the roots and that will also cause damages to their growth.

Do spider plants need sun?

Lack of light can cause the leaves of your spider plant to turn yellow and droop. Even though spider plants will easily adapt to any situation, they prefer to be anywhere that has plenty of bright light, preferably indirect sunlight. They’ll still survive with minimal lighting but its leaves most likely won’t be as vibrant.

Be careful with exposing your airplane plant to any direct sunlight, only indirect light. This will be the death of your indoor spider plant leaves. The plant leaves will lose their green color and may start forming crispy brown tips.

And if your spider plant leaves are dying, you’ll need to remove the dead leaves and any leaves that are browning and wilting.

Now when a plant needs a lot of sunlight, I like to place it by the window with sheer curtains (FYI these will look amazing in the room with your tropical plants) just in case there’s ever too much sun. Even though that may or may not be possible, you never really know. It does help me sleep in peace knowing that my spider plant leaves won’t be turning yellow or brown due to too much lighting.

a healthy spider plant placed in a room with bright light

Whatever you do, just don’t leave this airplane plant near any air conditioning vents because this could create conditions that lead to leaf burn as well.

The lack of natural light causes less chlorophyll, which makes the foliage the vibrant colors they are.

Where should you place a spider plant?

During the winter, the sun usually displays fewer hours of light when coming into the summer months.

So, if you are trying to keep your plant looking healthy and green,” it’s essential that you have a bright spot near the window.” If there isn’t enough light coming in from windows, consider purchasing designated grow lights or some type of artificial light for indoor plants to grow. It needs about 9-12 hours of light per day.

If you live in an apartment that barely has any windows, just know that you have options. Spider plants or any other tropical plants will still grow and thrive under artificial lighting. My friend uses this grow lamp and it has done wonders for her plants in terms of providing bright lighting.

But I personally prefer this grow light. It has 3 different timer modes that fit my 9-5 job perfectly.

Why does my spider plant have brown spots on the leaves?

Did you know that there’s a thing called bacteria leaf blight? and it is not pretty.

Its a pretty common spider plant problem.

spiderettes hanging off of the mother plant

Bacterial leaf blight is actually caused by a bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris.

Sometimes the bacteria that causes this gets in from other household pests like ants, dust mites (which come out of your carpeting), or even insects that may fly through an open window and land on the plant. If you suspect it might be bacterial leaf blight, try spraying some neem oil to coat the leaves with natural antifungal properties.”

As the bacterial leaf blight spreads, it will cause your plant leaves to turn yellow or have brown spots which will then lead to spider plant leaves turning black or having black spots.

Slowly, it will wither and kill all of the leaves on your plant. For best results in treating this problem, you should remove any yellowing or dying foliage at the base of the plant to prevent it from spreading more spores into both soil and air.

This is not an easy task for beginners because they may cut right through live feeder roots that are essential to help water travel up into the plants.”If left untreated, bacterial leaf blight can cause serious damage over time,” leading to stunted growth and drooping green fronds.

To fix bacterial leaf blight, remove any leaves that are yellowing. That helps keep healthy leaves from becoming contaminated.

  • Treat with a liquid copper fungicide
  • You need a pot with good drainage soil and holes
  • You need enough space to place the pot to have good airflow around it to reduce the chances of bacterial leaf blight.

Related: Why Does My Snake Plant Have Brown Spots?

How often do you fertilize a spider plant?

I wish I had known that fertilizer works better for houseplants when it is diluted. Oh, the plants I have killed. SMH.

During the warmer months, I like to fertilize spider plants (this one is too good to me) once every two weeks. One part fertilizer to one part water. If you’re worried about overfertilizing, you can increase the water amount. And when the weather starts to get colder, I’ll fertilize maybe once every two months. But it’ll be with very diluted fertilizer. I’ll use one part fertilizer to three parts water.

a spider plant (chlorophytum comosum) receiving plenty of indirect light

If you over-fertilize your plant (like I once or multiple times did), just know that it can burn the leaves, leaving you with drooping and yellowing leaves. It can also prevent your spider plant from producing flowers.

The general rule is to use half the amount instructed on the package and fertilize once or twice a month during the growing season, which is from spring to summer.

If you believe you have over-fertilized your spider plant, flush it using the same procedure discussed earlier. It may be wise to keep a calendar with dates marked on it that you fertilized to reduce the risk of over-fertilizing.

I like to use these chalkboard stickers to label the plant’s name as well as put the date on when I last fertilized it.

Should you repot spider plant?

Roots that are too thick or looks too much are known as root-bound. The roots have nowhere else to go. When that happens, the plant will begin showing distress with yellowing leaves and not growing.

When you choose a pot when repotting, choose a pot that’s an inch or two larger. Spider plants tend to produce more offsets and propagate themselves more when they’re given plenty of room to grow.

The best time for repotting is in the spring, but you can do it any time of year. Doing so will provide your plant with fresh soil, which should consist of good drainage and aeration. To help aerate the potting mix, add some perlite or charcoal (read above for my recipe) into the mixture as well.

If your plant is root bound, you will need a larger pot and potting soil, both of which need to have good drainage. The potting soil will also provide nourishment for the plant and its spiderettes if it has any.

If you do have spiderettes, it is best practice to propagate them in water first until it roots. Then transfer them into a pot that’s proportional to the size of the spiderette.

If you don’t want to propagate them, you can always leave them attached to the mother plant until it starts to grow roots. Then remove them and place them in a pot size that is proportional to it.

Read here if you want to know if you should leave the babies on your spider plant or propagate them.

Also, if they have a tray or you use a saucer, do not the plant sit continuously in water as it can cause the roots of the plant to rot. Root rot can also cause the spider plant to have wilting or yellowing leaves.

Soil that’s moist but not wet will promote healthier roots on spider plants, but soil that’s too dry will cause the plant to wilt.

Do spider plants attract bugs?

If you’re wondering what’s eating your spider plant, just know that its susceptible to mealybugs, aphids, spider mites and whiteflies. When your leaves are curled up or browning in spots it may mean that they’re being infested by pests.

If this is happening on more than one of your plants take them outside and shake off any bugs from its leaves

a hanging spider plant

Pests will suck the juice from the plant, leaving it vulnerable to diseases and malnutrition. Neem oil works well, but you can also use horticultural soap. When using soap, rinse the plant, then set it where it has good airflow for quick drying.

Neem oil can be used to remove pests but also as a fungicide. Thoroughly mix up the neem oil as directed, spray the leaves of the plant, including the underneath of the leaves, for fungi. For pests, mix as instructed and apply. For best results, I like to spray Neem oil on the plant every seven to 14 days.

Final thoughts on why is my spider plant pale and limp?

If you want to ensure your spider plant stays healthy and vibrant, it’s important that you water it correctly. You should also keep track of the seasons so that it doesn’t dry out from too much sun or get too cold during winter months.

Bacterial leaf blight is a common problem with spider plants, but can be prevented by removing dead leaves regularly and keeping an eye out for insects on the plant as they may spread the disease.

Finally, don’t overfertilize your spider plant because this will cause more problems than advantages in terms of growth rate and healthiness. All these tips might sound complicated at first glance, but if you follow them carefully then your spider plant should thrive!

Put some thought into their environment and they’ll reward you with lots of healthy leaves!

You May Also Like: