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I have a spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) that I've had for about three or four years. I got it as a tiny plant in a 2 inch pot; I moved it to a 4 inch pot shortly afterwards, and it's been there ever since. It's been neglected and abused a couple of times over the years (left without water for a week or two, eaten by cats...), but it's always come back strong. Right now it's got about 6 big healthy leaves and several smaller leaves.

Or so it did, anyway. Today I had an unwelcome surprise: my plant has fallen over! It must have snapped under its own weight, or maybe a cat did it. In any case, when I looked at the plant today, I saw this:

A spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) which has snapped and fallen over.

The plant hasn't wilted; the leaves seem to be well-hydrated. But the leaves which once stood upright (well, mostly upright) are now laying there limply. From the way they move when I push and pull on them, it's obvious that something has physically broken near the base of the leaves.

What should I do to keep this plant alive and healthy? I can't just leave it like that, can I? Should I tie the leaves to a stake to keep them upright? Or maybe I should just cut off the entire visible part of the plant; will it grow back if I do that? (The plant has a lot of old, dead, dried-out leaves that have accumulated over time.)

Is this a good time to divide the plant? The plant only has the one shoot; if I break the root system into pieces and plant the pieces, will they sprout?

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    Don't worry about killing it. I once found a collection of spider plants that somebody had put in an unused room while some building work was being done in the house, and had forgotten about them for about 3 years. Unsurprisingly the compost in the pots was as dry and hard as a rock, and the plants looked 100% dead. Just for fun, we chipped away most of the dry compost from the roots, chopped off the remains of the dead leaves, dumped them in a bucket of water for 24 hours, and then replanted them. After about a month, all except one of them had come back to life! – alephzero May 16 at 10:53
  • It's not unusual for spider plant leaves to bend down like that. Those leaves are long. Looks to me as if you have a happy, if still smallish, spider plant. Give it some sun, and it will grow fast for you. – Wayfaring Stranger May 16 at 15:51
  • @WayfaringStranger I know it's common for leaves to have an arch shape where they bend down and touch the ground, and I know it's also normal to have lots of leaves on one side and few on the other. But it seems very clear that what happened here is that the plant buckled under its own weight and toppled over. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see exactly how it recovers. – Tanner Swett May 17 at 18:17
  • @TannerSwett Could be. I can't see buckling in the pic, as the main stem appears blocked by a leaf. But if that's what you have, it could be a problem. However as alphazero said, the plants tend to be extremely hardy. Regardless, I've grown a lot of them, and never seen them buckle. I'd blame the cat. I usually hang mine from the ceiling, where only a truly dedicated cat could get at it. – Wayfaring Stranger May 17 at 20:09
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I have an update which I think constitutes an answer to the question.

I think the plant was never in any danger after all. I was afraid that some or all of the leaves had broken away from the rest of the plant, or that the stem had broken, leaving the plant unable to grow new leaves.

It turned out that neither one of those was the case. None of the leaves wilted or dried out, indicating that all of them remained essentially undamaged. The plant continued to grow new leaves, albeit sideways instead of up.

Although the plant seemed to be perfectly healthy as it was, I nevertheless fashioned a sort of wire cage to hold the leaves upright again. After about a month, I removed the wire cage, and the plant was able to stand upright on its own again. It must have repaired and reinforced whatever part it was that buckled.

Here's what the plant looks like now:

A spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) in a 4 inch pot with seven tall, healthy leaves, the tallest of which is 8 or 10 inches tall, as well as several smaller leaves.

Shortly after I posted this question, I also broke two large-ish pieces of root off and planted them in potting soil about half an inch below the surface, and watered them every day or two. That was probably a mistake; the root pieces simply shriveled.

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