But It Coundn't Hurt!
Growing Ferns From Spores
I don't want to put a bug in your bonnet, but growing ferns from spores is not generally recommended for amateur growers as it may take up to a year of special care and patients before the grower is rewarded with anything that looks like a young fern. However, it can be very rewarding, and the first step is fresh spore collection...
Choose a pinna (fertile-spore bearing frond) with ripening sori (spores). You can determine ripeness by simply touching your finger to the frond, or gently tapping it, spores will form a tiny cloud or come off on your finger, when that happens they are ripe. Remove the pinnna, place it underside down on a peice of white paper, and tap it gently. The dust that lays on the paper is your goodies... You can keep the pinna in a warm dry place for a few days, but remmember that most spores are not viable for long periods of time...days only! You may use home made growing medium, but...BUT, it must be sterile And completely moist. The reason it must be sterile is that the container will be covered and the media will be wet for a long period of time, mold and or bacteria will germinate and devore the little green stuff that will eventualy become your tiny ferns. This is a case of when you should buy a good sterile growing medium, it should say sterile on the package...Remember the aquatic remark on the first page of this site? Well this is that aquatic period of a fern's life. Almost any container that can be covered will do, a small plastic box, a bowl, a seed starter kit with a plastic dome is ideal (of which we sell), any of these things may be covered with plastic wrap... brand not a concern, but you should leave a breathing hole along the edge of your container, a straw bent over will allow air to circulate but deter any anerobic (without air) pest from germinating. Fill the container with moistened growing medium to a depth of 3/4 inch to an inch. Spread... We often use common table sugar as a spreader, and we ship our smaller seed in a colored sand mix, either of which (sugar dissolves and mostly causes no problems) will do. Mix your spore in either by gently shaking until the spores are mixed with the sand or sugar... both of which makes "seeing", spraeding the spores accross the surface of the medium a lot easier... You may also just tap your collecdted pinna over the media to distribute the spore. Take care not to water in too hard as the spores will wash in too deep... A gentle fine mist spray is ideal. Cover with plastic, sheet of glass, and place them in a warm spot where they will get plenty of filtered light. Some species will gernminate quickly, but for most nothing is likely to happen for up to three months. The first sign of germination is a slight greening (a pond scum look) of the surface. At all times keep the medium moist, but from this point on begin to fine mist water often, keeping it covered and always moist, but not swampy. Humidity must be very high during this fragile time. Shortly the medium gradually takes on a mossy appearance. This moss carpet contains a multitude of many small structures that represent the first stage of a ferns life (won't look like a baby fern though).
In a few months tiny ferns will be developing and evident, gently prick out as many as desired and plant them in a similiar growing medium, these don't have to be dug in.. a dint in the moist surface is fine. High humidity is still very important for the delicate little ferns, (place a few sticks into the medium to keep the plastic from collapsing onto the surface) cover them with a plastic bag. Find a warm, bright location. After the young ferns have attained a height of an inch or two, they will need to be fed, at 1/4 to max of 1/2 strength liquid plant food.... See,feeding ferns. Move each fern to one pot size bigger when it has outgrown its current pot, and gradually increase fertilizer strength. Usually by the time a fern is moved into a 3" pot it is ready to survive as an adult, and fluorish in most any growing medium (for ferns).