Ferns or Vascular plants are grown as landscape plants for foliage and ornamental flower purposes. The stems are referred as rhizomes though they can grow undergrounds only. Green color photosynthetic part is often referred as frond that typically divided into 2 layers namely fertile and sterile leaves. Fertile leaves are much narrower than sterile leaves and have no green color tissue.
Ferns have been used in the removal of heavy metals like arsenic from the soil. Some fern varieties are used in cooking in North America and to treat several health problems all over the world.
It is easy to grow as a houseplant for gardeners that purifies air when planted indoors and as landscaping for its beautiful flowers and foliage. Here in this article, we share the information about how easily you can grow fern plants from spores and care for it without any effort.
- 1 Fern Plant Profile
- 2 Fern Varieties
- 3 Fern Companion Plants
- 4 How to Grow Fern Plant?
- 5 Can you Propagate Fern from Cuttings?
- 6 Propagating Fern from Spores
- 7 By Division method
- 8 How to Care for Ferns?
- 9 What is an edible fern?
- 10 Can a fern plant survive in winter season?
- 11 Why do fern leaves turn Yellow?
- 12 What types of spores are produced in a fern plant?
- 13 How do ferns get pollinated?
- 14 Is fern plant toxic to your pets?
- 15 What are the benefits of fern?
Fern Plant Profile
Origin : New Zealand
Scientific Name : Tracheophyta
Height : 10-25 meters
Flowering : Yes (white, yellow, purple)
Soil : Well-drain soil with pH 6.0-7.0
Watering : Sufficient amounts
Sunlight : Full sun to partial shade
Temperature : Moderate (60-75 F)
Fertilizers : N-P-K (10-10-10)
Ferns are originated in a typical dense rainforest and offer a matching a decoration for your garden with feathery leaves. There are almost 12000 fern species cultivated all over the world and are classified as indoor and outdoor ferns based on whether the plant can tolerate in sun or not. Some popular varieties are adiantum, cloverleaf, horsetail fern, holly fern, Boston fern, staghorn fern and the table below gives an idea about fern variety, origin, and its specification.
|S. No||Variety||Scientific Name||Specification|
|1||Ostrich fern||Matteuccia struthiopteris||Ostrich tail structure, 1-3 meters height, red color flowers (Canada, America)|
|2||Maidenhair fern||Adiantum||Delicate fronds with branched waxy hand, white flowers|
|3||Birds nest fern||Asplenium nidus||Asplenium range of bushes, dark red flowers|
|4||Cinnamon fern||Osmundastrum cinnamomeum||Cinnamon color fronds, green leaves with brown flowers|
|5||Asparagus fern||Asparagus aethiopicus||Tough with cladodes stems, white flowers|
|6||Australian tree fern||Cyathea australis||4 meters height (Australia)|
|7||Japanese painted fern||Athyrium niponicum||Silver & green color, pink color flowers, 7-11 inches height (Japan)|
Fern Companion Plants
Heart-leaf brunnera, barrenwort, astilbe, rhododendrons, azaleas, hellebore, Nandina, sweet woodruff and baby’s tear plants are the good companions for ferns. All these plants improve the growth of ferns by attracting insects for pollination, by providing nutrients to maximize the space and increase the productivity of plants.
How to Grow Fern Plant?
Choose a Pot
Most houseplants do not thrive in standing water, so it should have enough holes at the bottom to drain water completely. You can also use cache pot if you don’t want to use a pot with drainage holes. Also, the size of the pot should be 6-8 inches tall when you start growing from seeds.
Type of Soil
Fern plants do best in neutral to slightly alkaline soil with pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.0. Use potting mix rich soil when the plant matures. If necessary add mulches at the base of the plant to encourage the plant growth.
Water and Sunlight
Consisting watering a fern plant keeps the soil moist but not wet. Also, avoid over-watering fern plants in which the plants cannot utilize the huge amount of water at a time and cannot drain quickly. So the plants may prone to infections and viral diseases.
Though ferns are woody plants they prefer moist, shady areas and some hardy varieties tolerate full sunlight. If the temperature is above 75F then plants require more water and for below 60F water the plant when the soil is dry. Seeds may germinate within 2 weeks and transplant it to outdoors when matures.
Pests and Diseases in Ferns
|Slugs and snails||Powdery mildew|
|Spider mites||Damping off|
Nutrient Deficiency Problems
|1||Nitrogen||Spindle yellow leaves, slow growth|
|2||Phosphorus||Yellow color foliage|
|3||Potassium||Brown leaf edges, purple leaf tints|
|4||Magnesium||Yellow leaf veins, reddish brown tints|
|5||Boron||Stunted growth, brown patches on leaves|
Fertilize the plant
Fertilize the fern plant once in every month during its growing season. Fish emulsions can be the best for your fern plants. You can fertilize the plant with eggshells, Epsom salt, baking soda, organic compost or manure and N-P-K fertilizers in the ratio of 10-10-10 for the plant to thrive quickly.
Make sure you not apply too much of fertilizers to the plants as it makes difficult for the plants to absorb other efficient nutrients and may even die to due to overfeeding.
Can you Propagate Fern from Cuttings?
These plants provide airy foliage at both indoors and outdoors when planted. You can easily propagate fern from cuttings, division method, and spores. Gardeners are much benefitted from propagating fern plants from spore and division method though it takes years time for the plant to mature.
Propagating Fern from Spores
Remove spores from the parent plant when they appear in the shape of slightly furry and plump. Dry them by placing in a plastic bag. When you find leaf dry then shake the bag to separate spores from leaves.
Plant the spores in a pot containing peat moss soil. Water a little to keep the soil moist but not soggy and maintain the ideal temperature of 65F in a sunny location. It may take months time to propagate spores with a green coating on the surface of the soil.
By Division method
In division method cut the plant into 2 sections containing leaves and rhizomes on each part. Now repot the 2 sections in a pot containing peat moss. Propagating from division method helps to establish a vigorously healthy plant only in the spring season.
How to Care for Ferns?
Ferns are the old plants that can thrive indoors with right growing humid conditions. Here is the list of fern plant caring tips that everyone should follow while growing indoors.
- Do not overwater the plant as it can result in root rot.
- Fertilize the plant once in every month when matures for better results.
- Test the nature and ph of the soil before planting seeds or cuttings in pots.
- Water the plant regularly (day-to-day basis) to keep the soil moist but not soggy.
- Place the pot near window location to receive bright indirect sunlight for the minimum of 6 hours a day.
- Follow the instructions and warning labels on seed covers, fertilizers before applying them.
- Remove dead or diseased fern leaves and stems from spreading the whole plant.
- Pruning the fern with cutters, blades to ensure fast and quick growth.
- Repotting a fern plant after every 6 months or year to bigger pots as the roots come out of the pot.
What is an edible fern?
The fern which can be absorbed without any harmful effects is called as the edible fern. Most of these ferns are perennial plants that can live for 2-3 years.Leaves or fronds are about 6 inches tall and have herbal value. Some of these species are varied in size, shape and edible from species to species.
Can a fern plant survive in winter season?
Deciduous ferns do not stay green in the winter season. If you choose to grow a fern that is well suited in your location can easily survive in winter. Cut the fronds when they start dying in the fall season and is covered with a layer of mulch throughout the growing season.
Why do fern leaves turn Yellow?
Brown color spots on fern leaves may be due to the poor soil conditions, lack of water, humidity, too much of sunlight and inadequate drainage. Even if your pets chew on fern leaves, tips may turn brown and die.
For more information refer: Why are my plants turning yellow?
What types of spores are produced in a fern plant?
Sporangia are composed of a single cell or multicellular spores. All plants produce spores at some point in their life cycle which can be quite complex. Mostly non-vascular plants, lycophytes, mosses, liverworts, hornworts and other ferns are homosporous (meaning only 1 spore is produced).
How do ferns get pollinated?
Fern plants are pollinated through spores though they have male gamete called stamen and the female stigma to transfer pollen. The adult fern plants grow immediately from the seeds and can easily be reproduced from the spores at an intermediate stage called gametophyte.
Is fern plant toxic to your pets?
Fern plants are considered to be mildly toxic but the spores can be poisonous. Do not allow the children and pets to go near to it. As they consume leaves of fern plants and may even result in vomiting, diarrhea, allergies and headache sensations.
What are the benefits of fern?
Some fern types such as cinnamon, ostrich are used for cooking purposes. It also has the compounds like potassium that controls blood pressure, fever, back pain and keeps the heart healthy.
It’s quite easy and fun to grow, enjoy fern plants in your home that keeps the surrounding atmosphere hygiene. If you have amazing ideas about growing ferns, please share your experience with us.