Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Citrus Pruning in mid Spring

To say the past two winters have been rough is probably an understatement! Many citrus trees took a pretty good hit and some have not survived, though many more have. Is this reason to want to quit trying to grow citrus? Absolutely not!!
While there has been some major losses of entire trees, I have been getting reports of trees that were thought to be dead, coming back. Hence the topic for today's discussion, pruning.
I get asked very often, when is the best time to prune my citrus tree? My usual response is, why do you want/need to prune it? There is always a myriad of reasons, many of which are not good reasons, "aren't I suppose to", "I saw online that it has to be done", "my neighbor did it". Then there is the little more reasonable "it is in my way" or "I don't like the way it looks".
This is a case of where you should research the plant before putting it in the ground. In the last two cases, moving the tree or pruning might be your only course of action. We can go into a huge, long discussion about this.
However, like I said at the beginning, there have been some rough winters and some folks trees were getting ready to be kindling, but lo and behold, they have sprouted new growth. What should I do now?
Do you have a tree that looks like this:



 This is also the reason that I usually tell people to hold off pruning any cold damage until you are sure what is truly dead.
Here is another picture of the same tree:


If you would have seen this tree just a few weeks ago, you would have written it off for dead. I had a hunch it would be fine, the cambium layer, just under the bark, was still green in places. Do you see now why I say hold off?


If I had just started cutting away, I might have cut off some new growth. Cold damage on citrus trees can be very deceiving. If the damage is low on the branch, there might be enough energy in it to initiate growth, but, if the damage is not allowing nutrients from the roots, it will be a short lived flush. Waiting until mid Spring gives you a better idea of where you stand. When you are pretty sure you can start cutting, prune small sections at a time, just getting to some green, living material, then stop. You don't want to cut too much off, but you also want to make sure you get all the dead wood off.
I wanted to also share something else that, because I did not prune when it was damaged, is showing some good signs.


This is my variegated Calamondin. The winter of 2013/14 almost killed it. It had dropped every leaf and was nothing but a couple of sticks. I watered it and just let it be, this year it is going to produce fruit again.
There is no real manual for pruning citrus, you need to remember that, if you start cutting citrus trees, you will be cutting flowers and fruit off.
I wanted to end this discussion today with some encouragement for those of you struggling with your trees. As you may or may not know, I grow all mine in pots. I do protect some of them over the winter, but not all. This is just a few of my trees that are bearing fruit this year:


Seedless Kishu Mandarin

Harvey Lemon


Buddhas Hand, Fruit and Flower


Variegated Valencia Orange


Poncirus trifoliata 'Flying Dragon' (Rootstock Citrus)

As always, if you have any questions about this or any of my other articles, feel free to ask. My address is TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com
Happy Growing!
Darren

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 Fruitmania GS

The new year is here and with it, new classes, new crops, and hopefully new blogs!! I wanted to start 2015 off with a really exciting item coming back to Charleston. After our success last year with Fruitmania and the constant barrage of...you have GOT to do this again!!
WE ARE!!
Fruitmania GS 2015
January 17th
9am-4:30pm at Cypress Gardens
There are a few changes this year that are VERY important.
The first one is:
There will not be any tickets available at the door. Due to the remoteness of Cypress Gardens, we were having a tough time with internet connections and processing credit cards. So this year, we are doing all pre-registration. The link to go to and purchase tickets is HERE


You will also notice a slight increase in price. This year, lunch is included....it will not be separate as it was last year.
Of course there will be door prizes and vendors selling fruiting plants of all kinds.



And MORE plants!!



And what would an all day garden school be without classes?
We have a great line up:
Class 1: 9am-9:50am- Containing your Fruit Enthusiasm-Growing Fruit in Containers-Darren Sheriff
Class 2: 10am-10:50am- Bees and Lesser Known Pollinators-Dr. Merle Shepard
Class 3: 11am-11:50am- Strawberries-Kathy Woolsey
LUNCH: 12noon-1:20pm- Time to check out vendors and other exhibits. Lunch is included.
Class 4: 1:30pm-2:20pm-Blueberries-Lou Denaro
Class 5: 2:30pm -3:20pm-Citrus- Kathy Woolsey and Darren Sheriff
Class Q&A: 3:30pm-4:20pm- Our panel of experts will answer any and all questions
At 4:30 we will have the results to our "new and improved" Jam and Jelly contest.
 
The rules for the Jam and Jelly Contest go something like this:
Bring entries to Dean Hall, Cypress Gardens between 9am to 10 am. 
Entries must be in by 10am on January 17, 2015
All types of Homemade Jams, Jellies and Marmalade will be accepted and subdivided into 4 classes.
This is a peoples choice award, each Fruitmania student will be given 4 colored tickets to vote in each class.
Class 1.  Best Tree Fruits (apple, pear, peach and others) red ticket
Class 2. Best Brambles and berries (strawberry, blueberry, grape and others) blue ticket
Class 3. Best Vegetables (pepper, tomato, and others) green ticket
Class 4. Best Odd balls and mixed fruit (cactus, daylily, guava and others) yellow ticket
The Best of the Best Trophy- selected from the top winner in each class. Members of the Camellia Garden club will pick the Best of the Best award at 2 pm. 
Prizes:
All winners get 2 free passes to Cypress Gardens
First Place in each class gets a trophy and $15 Walmart money card.
Second Place in each class gets a certificate and 2 free passes to Cypress Gardens
Best of the Best gets a trophy and a $25 money card. (plus they get the $15 card too)
As a secondary contest, we are having a baked goods contest too. This will encompass all things fruity and baked. It will also be a peoples choice award. A first and second place trophy will be up for grabs here. Pies, cakes, cookies, fruit bars...whatever you want to bring. Divide it into as many pieces as feasible so that you get as many people to try it as you can.

Sounds like fun so far, right!?
There is even more!!
Master Gardeners will be available to take soil samples. The cost is $6. All you need to do is bring in approx. 2 cups of dry soil that you want tested. If you are unsure on how to take a sample, go to this Clemson HGIC website HERE
We had a packed house last year and fully expect to do it again.


Did I mention you also get access to Cypress Gardens all day!!
Don't let any bad weather influence your decision to come out, the classes are entirely indoors.
Cypress Gardens and the Lowcountry Fruit Growers Society are the sponsors of this event. You can visit both of these fantastic entities on Facebook by clicking CYPRESS GARDENS or LOWCOUNTRY FRUIT GROWERS SOCIETY
Please don't hesitate to pre-order your tickets, we can only hold 125 or so and after that we have to close all ticket sales. Go to TICKETS or call Cypress Gardens at (843) 553-0515
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask....my e-mail is still: TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com
I look forward to seeing you there!!
Happy Growing!
Darren

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Getting Dirty

As you know, I am a firm believer in getting outside, working in the garden and getting dirty. There are just so many things that make it right. It makes me feel good on many levels.
Most people think the exercise thing first. While I know exercise is good for you, it is definitely not on my top ten things to do.
I will agree with the, "I like to watch things grow, create my own food and make a prettier place to live" group.
Then there is the, I just like being outside in the fresh air. I actually get depressed if I am stuck inside for too long. Anybody that has ever gardened knows this feeling.
Well, now there is some scientific proof that we gardeners are not crazy! Well, never mind that last sentence, most of us are. There is some interesting scientific news that might be able to give us more reasons to be outside. Yea, that is better!
Getting your hands dirty and making contact with soil AND a specific soil bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of serotonin in our brain according to research. Serotonin is a happy chemical, a natural anti-depressant and it  strengthens the immune system. Lack of serotonin in the brain causes depression.
It all came about when a Mary O’Brien, an oncologist at Royal Marsden Hospital in London, started inoculating cancer patients with a strain of the soil bacteria to see if any of their symptoms improved. Not only did they improve, they seemed happier and even their cognitive functions got better.
After hearing about this, Dr. Chris Lowry, at Bristol University, decided to go another step and wanted to see if the body’s immune response to the bacterium was what causes the brain to produce seratonin.
His experiments were done on mice. He found that cytokine levels rose, cytokines are part of a chain reaction, the end result of which is the release of seratonin.
There is much more testing going on. It has even been surmised that Seratonin is also thought to play a role in learning. Does it make sense now why so many of our older generations, think farmers, were so smart?
Something else to think about. Some researchers have proposed that the sharp rise in asthma and allergy cases over the past century stems, unexpectedly, from living too clean. I am going to borrow a sentence from a blogger in Australia that put it EXACTLY how I have been trying to say this to people for years: "In our hyper-hygienic, germicidal, protective clothing, obsessive health-and-safety society, there’s been a lot of interesting research emerging in recent years regarding how good dirt is for us, and dirt-deficiency in childhood is implicated in contributing to quite a spectrum of illnesses including allergies, asthma and mental disorders".
I could really get on my high horse and blame the hand sanitizing craziness that I see, but I will let you think about it for yourself. I am in my late 40's, so if you are the same age, or older, think back to your childhood. Do you remember as many peanut allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems as you see now? I sure don't!!
This is a little different of an article than I usually write and I am going to go way off track here for a minute. I AM all about education and this has something to do with the lack of it. I love the idea of research going on to get people more outdoors, maybe they will see some health benefits from it eventually. But,  I am also scared of what kind of people we are bringing up today, due to the LACK of gardening skills. There are children that think that milk comes from "Publix" and have no idea that it first came from a cow. There are people that have no idea how to plant a seed and get a crop from it.
I am an advocate for having some kind of gardening class or classes taught in school. Get them started early, teach them that a peanut does NOT grow on a tree and that Coco Puffs are made from a grain, that grows in the ground.
My mother taught me gardening when I was very young. I helped her in her garden and had a little one myself, probably by the age of 6. Comparatively, I feel I am a better, healthier person because of this. Let's get these kids off of FarmTown on the computer and into real farms. They will all be happier, healthier, and better able to adapt to the real world.
Thank You for following my little rant, we will resume next time with some good gardening information. As usual, if you have any questions or comments about any of my writings, please feel free to ask.
Happy growing!
Darren
Mary O’Brien, an oncologist at Royal Marsden Hospital in London, first stumbled upon these findings while inoculating lung cancer patients with a strain of M. vaccae (pronounced “emm vah-kay”) to see if their symptoms improved. She noticed that in addition to fewer cancer symptoms, patients also demonstrated an improvement in emotional health, vitality, and even cognitive function. - See more at: http://www.hortmag.com/blogs/gardening-blog/dirt-can-make-you-happy#sthash.R5GEzJqg.dpuf
Mary O’Brien, an oncologist at Royal Marsden Hospital in London, first stumbled upon these findings while inoculating lung cancer patients with a strain of M. vaccae (pronounced “emm vah-kay”) to see if their symptoms improved. She noticed that in addition to fewer cancer symptoms, patients also demonstrated an improvement in emotional health, vitality, and even cognitive function. - See more at: http://www.hortmag.com/blogs/gardening-blog/dirt-can-make-you-happy#sthash.R5GEzJqg.dpuf
Mary O’Brien, an oncologist at Royal Marsden Hospital in London, first stumbled upon these findings while inoculating lung cancer patients with a strain of M. vaccae (pronounced “emm vah-kay”) to see if their symptoms improved. She noticed that in addition to fewer cancer symptoms, patients also demonstrated an improvement in emotional health, vitality, and even cognitive function. - See more at: http://www.hortmag.com/blogs/gardening-blog/dirt-can-make-you-happy#sthash.R5GEzJqg.dpuf

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Plant Tough Love

There are many reasons to grow Camellias. As a shrub, it is evergreen and looks great all year round. It is a relatively carefree plant, it actually seems to do better with a little neglect. Then of course, there are the flowers. Depending on which species and cultivars you grow, theoretically you can start having flowers as early as late September, all the way through April and even into May. This article is not going to go into how to grow these beauties, I will save that for another time. I am going to discuss what many people feel is tough love towards the plants.
Anybody that knows me, knows that I am a competitive person. I love a good contest and the camellia show season fills the bill perfectly. So how does tough love fit in?
I rip the flower buds right off the plant!!
I know, "WAIT!? I thought you competed in flower shows?"
I do.
I don't rip them all off, just most. It is called disbudding. A camellia will set many flower buds and they (most) will open okay, sometimes smaller, sometimes mishappen. The theory behind disbudding is to send all of that flower energy to fewer buds. The flowers will be bigger and will be able to open wider without it bumping heads with its neighbor.
September is the time to start really doing this, of course there are the early season bloomers that will start showing buds sooner, you can start whenever you start to see the buds. With that being said, you do not want to start too early! The plant will actually produce a second set of buds which will not only take more energy to produce, you have to go through the plant again removing them. I start disbudding about September first and will continue on until the shows I want to compete in are over, then they are free to bloom their little hearts out. I have usually pretty much got them all done by then, but don't tell the plants that.
Let me show you how it is done.
You want to check out your camellia plant for something that looks like this:






Notice the two buds together? Somebody has to go.


I chose the top one. There are a number of ways to decide which one has to go.
First, you need to think about spacing. Is there room for the flower to open completely?
Second, rain, frost and condensation are a flowers enemy. You really don't want them settling onto the flower itself, so, if the flower is facing down, as seen above, that is the one to save. The moisture will run off the back of the bloom, like water off of a ducks back, and not set foot on the inside.
I go through all of my camellias doing this. I know for a fact that I take more flowers off than I leave on, that is why I have to do this when my wife is not looking.
When it comes to the miniature flowers, I may take a few off, but you can actually lose some points if the flower is bigger than the "standard" size. This is only for the miniatures, everything else, the bigger the better. I am also in the camp of taking all of the lateral buds (buds up and down the length of the stem) off and just leaving the terminal bud (the one on the very end of the stem) on.
The easiest, and safest, for the other blooms is to use your thumbnail. Place it on the tip of the bud to remove and depending on which way it is growing, bend it in that direction. It should pop right off. This sounds easy, but, it took me a little while to get used to popping the flowers off. 
Mind you, this is mainly for the competitive circuit. If you want a mass of color, completely disregard anything that you have just read. Camellia sasanqua, the fall blooming Camellia is not usually shown as often, mostly because they are considered more of a landscape and rootstock type of camellia. Now before I get all kinds of e-mails, yes, I know that some shows have a sasanqua or species category. Yes, I have some very pretty ones in my own yard, namely Pink Serenade and Yuletide that I love. I also have some 150+ japonicas and reticulatas that are for competing. So I know how pretty the sasanquas are, I just like the show bloomers.
Matter of fact, here is the Pink Serenade......see all the buds I haven't touched yet?






This what the final product usually looks like:



Anyway, like I said earlier, it takes some getting used to ripping those flowers off. It is kind of along the same lines as pruning, it is hard to do and it will benefit the plant, or the flowers, in the long run.
Isn't that what tough love is all about!?!?
If you have any questions about this or any other articles I have written, please let me know. I also would love for you to come check out my The Citrus Guy public figure Facebook page, give me a like and follow me more on my horticultural activities.
Happy Growing!
Darren

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Up Against The Wall

Working these last 10 years or so at a nursery has made me appreciate many things. Everybody has plants that they either love or just absolutely hate. I have learned there are quite a few plants that I just am not fond of. Each and every one of them has a place in the landscape, and that I appreciate. I still don't like them.
Want an example?
Crepe Myrtles. Yes, they are pretty when flowering, kind of.
Why do I not like them?
In my yard, they are the last tree/plant to leaf out. The flowers make an absolute mess. The bark peels and exfoliates, which to some people is a plus.
They are the first tree/plant to lose their leaves in the fall. I am just not excited about them.
Want another example?
Espaliered  trees.
Yes, I know, they do have some good uses to them. Even though I think they are about as ugly a thing as you can do to a plant or tree, they do actually make sense to some degree.
This is the topic for today. I had somebody ask me if I knew anything about them, is it possible to do it with a Citrus tree, and would I write something about it. The answer is YES to all three.
Historians note that fruit trees in the 16th century were trained in France to grow next to walls to take advantage of the extra warmth of the wall. If you have heard me speak or read any of my Citrus articles, you know this is right up that plants alley. Especially in borderline climates.
By the mid-18th century, espaliers were a major feature of European formal gardens, they can still be  seen at Versailles and Fontainebleau. The colonists brought the method to America, where even today it can be seen at George Washington's estate in Mt. Vernon. There it was done with Apples and other fruit, not Citrus.
The formal definition of espaliered is: 1. a plant (as a fruit tree) trained to grow flat against a support (as a wall). 2. : a railing or trellis on which fruit trees or shrubs are trained to grow flat.
I am sure you have probably seen one, not necessarily Citrus, but just in case, here is what one looks like:

Photo courtesy of Ian Barker Gardens

There are as many ways to espalier a tree as there are imaginations. There are several espalier designs, many with fancy names, including the single vertical cordon, the single horizontal cordon, oblique palmette with fixed limbs, Baldassari Palmette, the Belgian fence, lepage espalier with three branches, the U double, the verrier candelabra and the drapeau marchand. Don't let these fancy names scare you, they are all basically the same. You will need to determine your situation and what you want the tree to do. 
There are some basic points and techniques that are common to all forms.
A word of caution here, patience is A MUST!! This whole process can take anywhere from 5-10 years to complete. Again, I am not wanting you to be scared of this, just don't expect to have it happen overnight.
 Espaliers do best along sunny exposures, with loamy, well-drained soil. Find a spot near a brick or stone wall, wooden fence or trellis, allowing 6 inches of space between the tree and wall.
 The tree must be in its first year or two of growth in order to be espaliered. Older trees are more difficult to train, as bending mature branches can take one to three years, and usually end up breaking when you try to form them in a different direction than they want to grow.
There will be work to do on the espalier all year, but a good bit of the training will be done in the spring, when growth is soft and subtle. 
I stumbled across this picture from Homesteadrevival.blogspot.com. It is exactly the main gist of what you want to accomplish:

Of course the more elaborate your fence, trellis or wall is, the more you will need to prune.
Speaking of pruning. As new branches come out at you, you have a choice, you can leave them and have a full frontal tree with a flat back, or you can keep them pruned back to give you more room and a neater appearance.
This article is mainly on Citrus, because that is my thing. I really can not think of a cultivar of Citrus that this would not work with. You can do this to pretty much any tree too, like other fruits, Magnolias, Camellias, etc. One major thing you have to keep in mind, if you are just trying to cover a wall or create some other kind of look, you may not want to use a deciduous tree, one that loses its leaves in the winter. You will be back to looking at the wall, with wires and bare branches running along it.
Like I mentioned earlier, this is not my cup of tea on how to train a tree, but I will list some of the benefits to this style of gardening.
  • Espalier is efficient—it casts little or no shade on surrounding plants.
  • Espalier is beautiful—it softens the appearance of walls and can be a focal point of garden designs and views while it displays the finer details of plants: stems, bark texture and color, leaf shapes, flower, and fruit.
  • There is a year-round design effect.
  • A quick, living fence can be established of espaliers as a privacy screen or as a backdrop for other plants.
There are all kinds of websites, youtube videos and even many garden books have sections on espaliered trees. I encourage you to seek some of them out and do what suits you and your situation.
As I was doing some research on this subject, I always try to make sure I am giving out the most accurate info, I came across some interesting espaliers that others have done. Maybe some of these will give you inspiration to try something just as interesting or in some cases, crazy.

 NOT for somebody with OCD


I think of a triton when I see this






WAY too much work involved here




I know you should never say never, so I will say this, if there ever comes a time that I HAVE to espalier trees, this will be the closest I come to it.
Happy Growing!
Darren


Espaliers do best along sunny exposures, with loamy, well-drained soil. Find a spot near a brick or stone wall, wooden fence or trellis, allowing 6 inches of space between the tree and wall.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_7885929_espalier-lemon-tree.html
Espaliers do best along sunny exposures, with loamy, well-drained soil. Find a spot near a brick or stone wall, wooden fence or trellis, allowing 6 inches of space between the tree and wall.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_7885929_espalier-lemon-tree.html
Espaliers do best along sunny exposures, with loamy, well-drained soil. Find a spot near a brick or stone wall, wooden fence or trellis, allowing 6 inches of space between the tree and wall.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_7885929_espalier-lemon-tree.html

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Spit it out!

A few days ago I was walking around my yard, checking on how things were doing. I have been working many, many hours as of late, so it is a real pleasure to be able to tour the yard. Seeing all the new growth, fruit being produced, and things just thriving, really makes me feel good. I am trying to ignore the fact that deer ALSO apparently have been touring the yard and enjoying the fruits of my labor! That is another story.
Of course, I have some of the same normal problems that any other gardener has, the aphids, some scale, even a small case of dieback on one of my camellias. Nothing new that I can't easily take care of. The blessed deer however!! Sorry, I digress.
I did spot a problem that I had not seen in quite some time, and if you don't know what it is at first, it may gross you out.





Ever come across this in your yard?
No, the neighborhood kids probably did not come by and hock a loogey on your plant, though in some neighborhoods you never know.
Nope, this is caused by one of several species of Spittlebugs or Froghoppers.
Spittlebugs occur throughout the United States. About 850 species of spittlebugs are known worldwide, and 23 species are distributed throughout North America. They can, at least occasionally, be found on almost any plant. They are closely related to aphids.The adults are usually inconspicuous, often greenish or brownish insects, depending on the species. Immature spittlebugs are recognized by the frothy white mass that the nymphs surround themselves with on plant tissue where they feed.
Like aphids, spittlebugs suck plant juices. Heavy infestations distort plant tissue and slow plant growth. Light infestations usually have little effect on established woody plants. On your more herbaceous plants, they can suck the life right out of them. If ever there was a list of pests that are wasteful, spittlebugs would be at the top, because they feed in a rather unique way. Nymphs will huddle up close to one another and using their piercing mouthparts, puncture the plant stem on which they are feeding. Plant sap is then pumped out and through their bodies at an amazing rate. This pumping action extracts a lot of sap which then accumulates around the group of spittlebugs as they feed. Since the sap is thick and gooey, it clings to the spittlebugs and forms a type of sap or "spittle mass" in which the nymphs thrive. This moist, sap membrane is both a food supply and a place of safe harborage for the nymphs. Predatory birds are more likely to overlook nymphs encased in the spittle; the mass provides a damp environment for the young vulnerable bugs so they can easily endure even the hottest of days. 

The good news is, they are very easy to control. A strong spray of water from your hose will usually do the trick. Remember I said the froth protects them? Wash it away and there goes their protection.
The life cycle is rather simple,  Females lay small eggs in rows in hidden parts of the plant, such as the sheath between leaves and stems. Nymphs undergo about five molts, and may be orange, yellow, or green. There are many nymphs to be found in a spittle mass.
The most common spittlebug found around here is the  'Prosapia bicincta' or the Two-lined spittlebug. They look like this:


 As I mentioned above there are other species out there. The Native Meadow Spittlebug, Native Pine Spittlebug and the Dogwood Spittlebug, just to name a few. 
This is one of those pests that can do some damage, small infestations are not much of a problem, and they are easy to control. If you want to know what kind of spittlebug you have, first figure out what they are on, there is probably a spittle for that.
Hopefully this has been a fun little read on a pest that is actually a disgusting habit that many people have. 
If you have any comments, questions or something from any of my articles that you would like some more info on, my e-mail is: TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com
Just spit it out already!
Happy Growing!
Darren


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Overprotecting? My Spider Plant

I am not going to remind you just how brutal a winter we have just come through. Mainly because, one, I don't want to think about it, and two, there are some parts of the country still experiencing it as I type. Suffice it to say, it was BAD!
I have had conversations with people debating whether we tend to "overprotect" our plants during cold spells. Yes, I know there are some that just won't survive certain temperatures. I can fully attest to that, in the case of trying to grow Theobroma or cocoa. The temperatures drop below 40 degrees and it is toast. I have tried three times now. Needless to say, I have given up trying to grow my own chocolate.
However, there are plants that will take an absolute beating, yet will come back. The case of the daylily comes to mind. It will completely die back, but poke it's head out in the spring and flower like crazy. I am sure you can think of a hundred plants that fall into this category.
Today, I want to discuss a plant that is VERY familiar to anybody that has ever grown houseplants. Everything you read says it likes warm temperatures. Yet, I am here today to prove it is one tough son of a gun!!
Chlorophytum comosum, often called the spider plant or airplane plant. One of the most common and easiest to grow of all of the houseplants. You probably have one hanging in your den, office or kitchen right now. 


Native to South Africa. Spider plants are fast growers. They can quickly get to be 2 to 2½ feet wide and 2 to 3 feet long, especially when grown in a hanging basket. They prefer bright, indirect light, which makes them ideal as a houseplant. They can handle some direct light, but anything after say noon, will probably scorch the leaves. 
Like most plants, a well draining soil is what it prefers. Any good potting soil is sufficient. 
Allow the plant to dry out slightly between waterings, it is susceptible to root rot. You can feed your plant during periods of active growth. A general purpose fertilizer, either slow release or water soluble is good. 
Spider plants form thick, fleshy tuberous roots. You will want to divide and repot the plants before the roots expand enough to break the container. I have actually seen this happen. They can be repotted at any time of the year. 
Also known as airplane plants, because they produce little "plantlets" that seem to take off from the mother plant. 


The great thing about these plantlets is, once they have developed roots of their own, you can push them into some moist soil and you have a new plant. Again, this can be done pretty much anytime of the year.
There are even different degrees of color, depending on the cultivar.
'Vittatum' has green leaves with a broad central white stripe. This is the most common one and is what the very first picture above is. 
 'Reverse Variegatum'. This one has a green center with white edges, as seen here:


There are all kinds of degrees of variegation, some of the white stripes are wider and paler. Some of the green is more intense. Some have multiple lines. You get the idea.



There is even an all green plant, for those of you that dislike variegation:


Did you know spider plants flower?:


Plant diseases are very rarely a problem. Too much or too little water is the main complaint. Whiteflies, spider mites, scales and aphids are the most common insect pest problems, all of which can be taken care of with insecticidal soap or a good spray of direct water.
If all of this color, flowers and ease of care were not enough for you. What if I told you that spider plants are actually GOOD for you? The National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), which tested the abilities of houseplants to remove formaldehyde from the air, found in preliminary tests that spider plants were the champs, removing 95 percent of the toxic substance from a sealed Plexiglas chamber in 24 hours. It can also battle benzene, carbon monoxide and xylene, a solvent used in the leather, rubber and printing industries.
Not too bad for something that just hangs around the house, huh?
Oh, I guess I should tell you now, WHY, I titled this article what I did. We tend to read books, articles and listen to our grandparents about the proper ways to care for our houseplants. They need to stay warm in the winter. Keep them away from drafty windows, they will get cold and die. The conventional consensus about spider plants reads like this: Temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees during the day and 50 to 55 degrees at night are ideal. They will tolerate temperatures down to 35 degrees. Well, I keep my all my plants outside during the 3 "warmer" seasons of the year. When it gets cold, they go into my greenhouse. I forgot one of my spider plants this year. Not sure how, I just missed it. Here in North Charleston, SC we bottomed out at 17 degrees on the coldest night. Had two ice storms. This plant that I missed was just hanging out, literally, in all of this cold, nasty weather. Look what I found the other day:


Do me a favor, don't tell it that it was not suppose to still be alive, it hasn't read this article!
As always, if you have any questions about this article, any of my other articles, or have a gardening question that you need answered, drop me a line: TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com
Happy Growing!
Darren