Methods For Propagating House Ferns... Ferns in general

Depending on the type of fern, propagation is possible by several methods, all of which are best tried in early spring. The easiest method is division of the rhizome, but propagation by division is normally confined to plants (such as the adiantums (Maidenhairs: indoor and outdoor types), or the polystichums (P. tsus-simense (indoor), or Evergreen Christmas Fern (outdoor), Bead Ferns, Net Vein Ferns, Lady...) that have underground rhizomes. To devide a fern, begin by removing it from its container and carefully shaking the potting mix away from the roots... We at Cool Greenery often soak the whole root system in a bucket of water and gently swoosh it back and forth in the water to free the soil...works real well with little damage to the roots. Then, using a sharp knife (sounds like I'm beging a contardiction in comments creafully-sharp-knife), taking care not to damge the thinner secondary roots, cut the rhizome into as many peices as desired. Each peice can be quite small as long as there are a few fronds growing from the rhizome. Plant each peice of rhizome in a 2 1/2 to a 3" pot containing any of the recommended potting mixes. The potting mix should be moist but not overly wet.

To aid recovery from the shock of being whacked up, the newly potted rhizome should be enclosed temporarilly in plastic bag (sandwhich bag is fine, poke several sticks or an old pencil or two into the dirt before placing the plastic bag, these will keep the plastic from touching the fronds...and rotting them) and place in a warm shady spot. (there is also a solution to aid transplant shock, if you have some you may dip the peices in that before planting, but its not important enough to run out and buy some) After about a month or so (you may be able to see new roots), uncover the fern peices each day for several hours, gradually uncovering the young ferns, watering very sparingly, over the course of the nex several weeks. This will give the fern peices time to become acclamated to more harsh atmosphe of an open room. It can then be moved to its permenant position and treated as a mature fern.

For ferns that have rhizomes that creep on the surface of the potting mix the best method of propagation is to take tip cuttings of the rhizomes. The cuttings should be made about two inches behind the growing tip of the rhizome, and ther need not be a frond attatched to it. Place the cutting on the surface of your moistened potting mix in a 2 1/2 to 3" pot. Then secure the cutting to the surface with a loop of wire, a paper clip works nicely. Enclose the pot in a palstic bag as directed beforehand. Find a warm shaded spot leaving it there until the cutting has rooted. You'll see a tiny frond coming up, gradually uncover it as directed before. At the end of several weeks you may treat them as mature ferns.

Tip cuttings of the runners that grow from the rhizome may be treated the same. Or if the runners are not cut away from the rhizome, you may simple leave it root beside the parent then remove it after it has rooted.

For ferns that have young bulbils that grow on there fronds, the obious method of propagation is to simple free them from the parent as you would a spider bulbil and place it in its own pot. As in the propagation procedure for other cuttings enclose it in a plastic bag until it has rooted, and uncover gradually over a period of several wweks....

With any of the propagation methods, if the fronds beging to wilt, recover it until it recovers, but the following day resume the gradual uncovering of the young fern.

Growing ferns from spores is a little more dificult and will be handled as a seperate subject...