growing ferns from spores

Discussion in 'Plant Propagation' started by Denise, Apr 16, 2008.

  1. Denise

    Denise Active Member

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    Has anyone successfully grown ferns from spores to maturity. Various sites give great how to suggestions and ideas, but it seems a long involved process.
     
  2. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    That's because it is a long, involved process. The conditions need to be just right or else you have to start over. Easier and less frustrating to let the nurseries do it for you and buy pre-sprouted ferns.
     
  3. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I've done it with Dicksonia antarctica. Slow, but easy and not difficult at all.

    1. Sterilise some potting compost (simplest is to moisten it, and microwave) and put it in a shallow seed tray or similar.
    2. Place a piece of fern leaf with ripe sori (spore capsules) on the surface; leave it for a couple of days to dry off and shed its spores onto the compost.
    3. Keep constantly moist; covering the tray with a sheet of plastic cling film works well. Keep at around 15° to 20°C.

    The spores will germinate in a few days, giving a fine green sheen of thousands of prothalli on the compost surface. The prothalli very slowly continue to grow, eventually getting to look like small liverworts. After a few months to a year, they reach sexual maturity and development of new fern plants begins. When the new fern plants reach a couple of cm tall, carefully dig them out with tweezers, and pot them up individually.
     
  4. Denise

    Denise Active Member

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    Dear Michael,
    Thanks for your information on growing ferns. I think I'm going to try this method using some of the spores I have. I have some unusual fern sprores a friend gave me that I haven't seen in this area. The only problems I foresee is keeping the medium moist (I'll use a plastic lid), and knowing if in fact I'm growing ferns and not some other green thing. Every site I have gone to has stressed the importance of sterile soil, tools, and containers, so I will be sure to adhere to these suggestions. dt
     
  5. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I suspect the need for sterility is over-rated. I did sterilise the compost, but not the seed tray, nor the fern frond that supplied the spores, nor the tools that I used, nor the water I needed to add periodically to keep the tray moist, nor the hand sprayer I used for the watering. And I never got any infections or diseases at all. I never counted the prothalli, but there were certainly thousands, and probably tens of thousands. Once the first ten or so new fern plants grew from them, I just discarded the rest of the prothalli; if I hadn't, who knows how many more ferns I could have ended up with.
     
  6. arcticshaun

    arcticshaun Active Member

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    I tried Ostrich Fern spores (Matteuccia struthiopteris) on 50/50 sand/soil mix. I made the mix a bit damp and microwaved it until it steamed. Sprinkle on spores and reseal, no sterile conditions other than that and I had hundreds of baby ferns. Conditioning the baby ferns to lower humidity killed most of them and last summer I put out the survivors to my yard (no signs of life from any of my ferns yet).

    Shaun
     

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