Sewing Harvestmen’s Shoots

039Apparently, harvestman is another name for spiders.  I never knew this but find the word gothically evocative.  Perhaps I’m too fond of wordplay, but entitling the post “potting spider plants” just doesn’t have the same lyricism.

I try to be one of my word.  As such and in keeping with the end of my previous post, I’ve been planting.  I have a great deal of beleaguered plants that I over-wintered in my unfinished office.  I had a bit of supplemental lighting but I haven’t quite mastered the use of grow lights yet and as such the best I could hope for was a slow decline.  My cacti fared the worst, but none of my plants actually died from lack of light (though I lost some to lack of watering).

As spring returned, my spider plants, scientific name: Chlorophytum comosum, began to develop their characteristic umbilici.  I have four mother plants, one very large (perhaps a “grandmother plant”) and three about half its size.  All three have several tendrils each producing new plants.  So far today I’ve repotted thirteen of the two-dozen or so 023tricolor spiderlings.

I have a fifth mother plant that is one of my favorites.  It’s a bizarre thing, despite its taxonomical similarity to the other spider plants its reproductive process seems rather different.  Instead of directly producing miniature plants this all green variant produces three sided pods which eventually split and turn inside out.  The inverted pods then develop into white flowers with yellow pistils.  These dry and crumple away and only then does the plant produce diminutive versions of itself.  The plants that I have all come from one rescued plantlet I found in the corner of an office building.  There was no explanation as to how a single under-developed plant ended up on a waiting room table.  This was about four years ago and the plant has gone from a tiny half dead thing to filling a one gallon pot.

Spider plants are members of a class of functionally similar but genetically unrelated filtering vegetation.  Chlorophytum comosum is a tenacious consumer of formaldehyde, a common indoor contaminate.  It does well 031with neglect and varying light conditions, including the ability to subsist off of artificial light exclusively, and is easily brought back from near death, as my story demonstrates.  In addition to removing and sequestering formaldehyde, spider plants process carbon dioxide very quickly, add moisture to the air, and provide visual stimulation.

The following list and link are taken from an article by Frank Kuznik at the National Wildlife Foundation and explains what and how spider plants affect the atmospheric improvements they provide.

Top 10 Houseplants 
Environmental engineer Bill Wolverton rates the following plants best for chemical-vapor removal, ease of growth and maintenance, resistance to pests and rate of water evaporation.

  1. Areca palm
  2. Lady palm
  3. Bamboo palm
  4. Rubber plant
  5. Dracaena (especially “Janet Craig”)
  6. English ivy
  7. Dwarf date palm
  8. Ficus Alii
  9. Boston fern
  10. Peace lily

Adding a few houseplants can greatly improve one’s in office time.  Just a few of these can help to decontaminate one’s immediate workspace and the best time to get them is now.  Summer plants tend to be more vigorous and healthy, allowing you time to acclimatize them to their new surroundings before winter comes with its months-long period of recirculated air.