Spider Plant Diseases and Problems: Causes and Treatment

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If you’re starting to notice that your spider ivy has stopped growing or has started to develop unhealthy-looking foliage, this could be a sign that it is starting to die. Infestations, disease, and improper care can result in a wilting plant. Thankfully, these issues can almost always be resolved before it’s too late!

Airplane plants are hardy and can recover quickly by following appropriate measures. If you are looking for guidance on how to revive your spider ivy, here is everything you need to know about spider plant diseases and problems. 

Brown Leaves

Here’s what could be happening when the leaves of your plant turn dark brown or black:

spider plant dying

Under or Over Watering

When Chlorophytum comosum receives incorrect amounts of water, it slowly becomes stressed. Underwatering, overwatering, and chemical build up can damage the soil resulting in browning leaves.

This is a very common problem that can be fixed by adjusting your watering schedule. Spider plants should be watered about once a week. If a week passes by and your plant still feels very moist, hold off on watering until it dries out a little bit more.

Even though these types of airplane plants do well in damp conditions, they need to have about 50% of the soil dry out before watering. This helps prevent root rot. 

Another potential issue with incorrect watering practices is the type of water you use. Using tap water can lead to chemical and mineral build up making the leaves dry out and burn. It is recommended to either use filtered water or rainwater.

Light Exposure

If your spider ivy is placed in direct light, its leaves can get sunburnt. Sunburnt plants crack, dry out, and eventually turn brown. It’s important to make sure your plant is getting plenty of light without being in its direct path.

Black or Brown Tips

spider plant brown tips

When your ribbon plant has brown tips or black tips issues, it is usually caused by an excessive amount of fluoride or boron in your water.

The easy way to fix this is to use rainwater, distilled water or filtered water to flush the soil well to get rid of the toxic substances or fertilizer buildup.

Yellow or Drooping Leaves

airplane plant yellow leaves

Yellow or drooping leaves on your spider plant should not be ignored. They are a sign of overwatering, improper sun exposure, and/or overfertilization. Once yellow leaves begin drooping, wilting, and changing in colour, your plant may start to die.

Sun Exposure

Chlorophytum comosum loves the sunshine. They need a constant stream of bright and indirect sunlight in order to thrive. If they don’t get enough light, they will begin to die. Additionally, make sure your plant isn’t getting sunburnt. Direct sun exposure can also cause foliage damage.

Temperature and Humidity

Yellow and drooping leaves are also an indication of low humidity and incorrect temperatures. Place your plant in a space far away from any heaters, vents, or air conditioners. 

The ideal temperature for this type of plant is on the warmer side, but anywhere from 55 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit should be just fine. To increase humidity, consider occasionally misting your spider plant’s foliage and positioning it close to other plants.

Additional Factors

Other contributing factors could be over fertilization, pests, and/or too much water. To avoid yellow leaves, make sure you are following appropriate watering and fertilizing plant care routines. If pests become a problem, simply wash them away with water.

Root Rot

Root rot can occur when your airplane plant is way too moist. Soil, pots, and watering are all factors contributing to root rot.


Spider plants prefer to live in soil with good drainage. Loamy soils are fantastic for preventing root rot. If your plant’s soil has become soggy, then it may need to be repotted.


Pot or repot your spider ivy into a terracotta container with holes in the bottom. Terracotta pots are the absolute best for good drainage. New sterilized soil is usually moist already so don’t water your plant right away. Wait until the top half of the soil has become dry before watering again.

Spider Plant Infestation

Chlorophytum comosum can become infested by aphids and other small bugs. They can easily be removed by gently rinsing the plant foliage with filtered water. 

If the infestation continues, try rinsing the plant off again with a small amount of dishwashing detergent. For persistent infestations, use insecticide spray, prune infested areas, and re-pot your plant using fresh soil. 

ribbon plant

Slow Growth

Slow growth or no growth at all is an indicator that your plant is living in the wrong size container. Foliage and plantlets can only grow when there is enough room for the roots to grow. Spider plants do well when they are slightly pot-bound but will eventually need to be repotted into a bigger container.

On the other hand, a pot too large may make your plant tip over and break away from its roots. When choosing a pot, pick one about one to inches bigger than the plant. 


How do you care for a dying spider plant?

Dying spider plants need to be properly watered, fertilized, and must live in an optimal environment. Water once a week, fertilize twice monthly during the growing season, and make sure your plant is in a warm/humid environment with loads of indirect sunlight.

How to identify what’s wrong with my spider plant?

Figuring out what’s wrong with your spider ivy can be difficult and may require some trial and error. The colour of the leaves, the moistness of the soil, and the state of the foliage should help you identify the problem affecting your plant. 

Why won’t my spider plant grow babies?

Spider plants don’t begin to grow babies until they have reached maturity. If your plant isn’t developing any plantlets or spiderettes, it may be too young or is in a pot that is too large. 

What bugs eat spider plants?

Small bugs including aphids, scales, and mealybugs can infest and eat spider plants. If this becomes a problem, rinse your plant off with water.

Why are the tips of my spider plant turning brown?

Browning leaves are usually an indicator of water stress. Additionally, it could be a problem with fertilization or light.

See our guides on airplane plant care, airplane plant flowers, and propagation.

~ image source: depositphotos/MariaGG

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