Why Do Spider Plants Fade or Lose Their Variegation?

Spider plants are special, in part, because they’re so easy to care for.

Plus, those strappy, often variegated leaves are pretty distinct. No one is going to mistake your spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) for a Monstera. And those spiderettes?! SO cute.

As with many tough houseplants, when things go wrong, your plant tells you right away with changes in the leaves.

And once those leaves start to change… they suddenly look a lot less appealing.

A close up vertical image of a spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) growing in a pot set on a windowsill. To the top and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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Spider plants can turn brown or yellow. Or they might start to fade and turn pale, or lose color. Variegated types might lose their distinct contrast.

In this guide, we’ll talk about fading leaves, those that lose color or variegation and look somewhat sickly, but they aren’t turning yellow or brown.

We’ll help you figure out the causes and resolve the problem so your houseplant can look healthy once again.

Why Spider Plants Fade or Lose Variegation

  1. Lack of Nutrients
  2. Not Enough Sun
  3. Not Enough Water
  4. Overwatering
  5. Too Much Light

Part of the challenge here is that a C. comosum might revert back to its non-variegated form any time when it’s extremely stressed.

Those white and yellow parts of the leaves aren’t efficient at performing photosynthesis, and a struggling plant with more green parts is better able to survive.

Variegated spider plants came about after breeding specimens with attractive mutations in their leaves. But those original all-green genes are still in there.

You can learn more about spider plants and how to care for them in our comprehensive guide.

Let’s take a look at the common causes for reversion or paleness in these popular houseplants!

1. Lack of Nutrients

A lack of nutrients is less often a problem than the other things on this list.

That’s because spider plants aren’t heavy feeders, meaning they don’t need a lot of food. At the very most, you should be feeding once every two weeks with a mild houseplant fertilizer.

A close up of a bottle of Dr Earth Pump and Grow Fertilizer isolated on a white background.

Dr. Earth Pump & Grow

Dr. Earth’s Pump & Grow is mild enough that you don’t have to worry about burning your C. comosum. Snag a 16-ounce pump bottle at Arbico Organics.

2. Not Enough Sun

When a spider plant is located in a space that receives too little sun, the leaves start to turn all green and somewhat pale.

A close up horizontal image of a Chlorophytum comosum growing in a small pot on a windowsill.

Remember the tendency of C. comosum to revert to green when it’s stressed?

That’s what’s going on here. It isn’t receiving enough sun so it’s turning some of that white or yellow growth green to become more efficient at photosynthesis.

These plants want bright, indirect sunlight. Direct light is going to be too much for them, and a dark corner isn’t any good either.

Something right in between with medium light is perfect. A location near a south-, west-, or east-facing window with a sheer curtain placed over it is the perfect spot.

3. Not Enough Water

Give that spider plant a drink! A C. comosum that doesn’t get enough water isn’t going to instantly lose its stripes, but over time, repeated drought can cause the leaves to lose their distinct coloring.

A close up horizontal image of a Chlorophytum comosum in a terra cotta pot set on a windowsill with a misting bottle.

Spider plants do particularly well when you bottom-water them, but if you opt to water from the top, do so only once the top inch of soil has dried out.

Any more than that, and you’re asking for trouble.

4. Overwatering

An overwatered C. comosum will quickly turn pale.

The variegation, if present, will remain, but the green parts of the foliage will become quite pale, and the entire leaf might almost appear translucent.

A close up horizontal image of a green spray bottle with houseplants behind it in soft focus.

Stick your finger in the soil and feel for moisture. If it feels wet, you’ve overwatered.

The soil should feel like a well-wrung-out sponge after being watered. And the top inch should always be allowed to dry out between watering.

5. Too Much Light

Too much light can bleach out the leaves.

A close up horizontal image of a large Chlorophytum comosum in a pot outdoors in the sunshine.

Specimens growing in too much sun will start to fade and look pale green rather than having distinct green and white or yellow parts. The tips of the leaves will often turn brown and dry, as well.

Remember, bright, indirect light is your goal!

Don’t Let Your Spider Plant Fade Out

When a C. comosum starts to fade or turn all green, it’s easy to panic and figure that your houseplant is on its way out.

But once you determine the cause, it’s usually pretty easy to sort everything out and return it to its former glory.

A close up horizontal image of a spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) growing in a small pot set on a wooden surface.

Which issue are you experiencing with your houseplant? Is it losing variegation? Or just fading to a paler hue? Share what you’re doing to fix it with us in the comments below.

Want to increase your spider plant knowledge even more? Give these guides a read next:

Photo of author
Kristine Lofgren is a writer, photographer, reader, and gardening lover from outside Portland, Oregon. She was raised in the Utah desert, and made her way to the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two dogs in 2018. Her passion is focused these days on growing ornamental edibles, and foraging for food in the urban and suburban landscape.

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Betty Weeks
Betty Weeks (@guest_33756)
8 months ago

Just the babies on my Bonnie plant are starting to fade..I turned the pot around so it wouldn’t get direct sunlight on them..I don’t fertilize it..and don’t think I’m over watering or underwatering.

Amada (@guest_37849)
5 months ago

My variegated spider plant is directly in a south facing window but only receives direct sunlight for 3 hours, then it’s indirect light. Could the faded appearance be that it needs to be transplanted? It seems crowded but i read they like to be a little pot-bound. I’ll try watering it more though. Maybe being crowded means it needs more water. And I’ll see if i can move it to a more indirect light. Thank you.