Lessons From A Spider Plant

My mother always had spider plants (chorophytum comosum)in her garden no matter what country we lived in. The only time she stopped having them was when we moved back to the Philippines and the ubiquitous spider plant was replaced by endless orchids, and my father got entangled with a jasmine plant that he cared and nurtured personally from 1982-2016. Not that I’m complaining about the orchids, but somehow the humble plant always fascinated me and I never forgot them.

The humble spider plant ©MTHerzog

Last year I embarked on a quest to restore the spider plant into my abode, something that took a bit longer than I thought. My friends and I explored the nurseries in Calamba and assorted other locations, and finally managed to locate a few in Quezon Memorial Circle. The irony of it all is that that just when the plant began to thrive in my flat (and Champagne, the cat decided she liked it as well), I moved to Germany.

Once I finally settled in my new home, I combed the markets for the spider plant again. It has many names around the world, and one of the most amusing ones is “hen and chickens”, although it fits perfectly! Here in Berlin some people refer to it as the Beamtenpalme (civil servant palm) because it is everywhere and of no great use. Not my words.

For the fans of indoor plants, the spider plant is usually at the top of the list in addition to the more popular money plant, but both are highly recommended air purifying plants. Yes, the money plant is also on my list of plant acquisitions to work on, but my priority was the spider plant.

On the one hand, I find it incredibly nostalgic, a loose bond with my past, my childhood, and in some ways, my parents. On the other hand, in its simplicity the plant is a source of inspiration for resilience and continuity. The mother plant sprouts elongated extensions that indeed resemble spider legs, but at the tip of each leg is a satellite unit. At some point this new cluster of leaves will sprout roots and you can detach it from the mother plant and transfer it to its own pot. Oh, and it is a flowering plant as well.

So far my spider has sprouted two new legs, and every day I watch with utter fascination as the leaves grow. It is a moment of reflection, inner peace, and a reminder that going out of the box is perfectly OK.

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