The spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is a South African perennial in the lily family. It grows as a clump of long leaves with pointed tips and has fleshy roots. Spider plants are widely grown as hanging houseplants because they produce baby plants, known as spiderlings, on their flower stalks. These stay attached to the parent plant but can be detached and grown into new plants. Most cultivated spider plants are variegated.
The naturally occurring form of the spider plant is not variegated and has green leaves with a slight shine. It is uncommon in cultivation, with the University of Florida reporting that it only accounts for 1 per cent of spider plant sales.
Chlorophytum comosum "Vittatum"
C. c. "Vittatum" has curved, green leaves up to 8 inches long with a broad, white stripe running down the middle. It is the most common spider plant cultivar, according to Clemson University horticulture specialist Karen Russ. "Vittatum" is slower growing than other cultivars, according to the University of Florida's Edward F. Gilman.
Chlorophytum comosum "Variegatum"
C. c. "Variegatum" produces long, narrow leaves up to 16 inches long, according to Clemson University horticulture specialist Karen Russ. They have a central green stripe with white margins. "Variegatum" plants form smaller clumps than "Vittatum" plants.
Chlorophytum comosum "'Mandaianum'"
C. c. "Mandaianum" has green leaf margins with a golden-yellow central stripe. It is a dwarf cultivar with leaves up to 6 inches long.
Chlorophytum comosum "Bonnie"
C. c. "Bonnie" has the same variegations as "Vittatum" but produces curly leaves and flower stems. "Bonnie" tends to produce the curliest foliage when it is slightly underwatered.
The spider plant is also known as the aeroplane plant, St. Bernard's lily, spider ivy, ribbon plant and hen-and-chickens plant.