I would like to hear from anyone growing ferns from spores they have collected. I did some last fall with a lot of success, I didn't know it could be so easy. I had some failure though in the middle stages of transplanting seedlings, quite a few died on me, maybe I waited too long to transplant. I had pnuemonia and didn't get to it for about a month after I started to transplant from second leaf stage. I'm going to try again this summer when spores are ripe on my hardy's in the garden. Hostajim1
KatyMac, I have Ken Druse making more plants book, it explains ferns spore propagating. but the way I did it was with clear plastic clamshell boxes ( the kind you get in the bakery) with sterile african violet soil mix. pour boiling water over box. everything must be clean. take a leaf from the fern with ripe spores on it. set it on clean white paper overnight in the morning there should be an outline of the leaf on the paper. take it and tip it up over garbage can, shake it, then turn it over on your soil give it a snap on the back. the spores that are left are a perfect amount to germinate. close the lid and put in warm place, you should see little green heartshape seedlings in a few weeks. when they get to second leaf stage transplant them to larger area. that should do it. lol, hostajim1
Thanks for the info. You make it sound fairly easy. I remember reading an article on this and it sure seemed complicated. Maybe I will have to give it a try. How long does a typical fern grown from sport take to get to "1 gallon" size?
Brent, I started the fern spores in Sept. 05, I now have most of them in 2" pots, so to get them to gal size could take 2 years. which isn't bad considering if you bought a Japanese painted fern in a gal pot it would cost $7.99 and up. I'll probably sell some ferns at the local farmers market, since I have so many. also you can do some hybridizing, from what I've read you can take spores from different parents and put them in the same container and some will cross. I guess ferns are different in that unlike the flowering plants, they have their sex after they leave the plant. I read that Mildred Seaver of Hosta fame has been hybridizing Japanese painted ferns for many years and has all different colors of them. lol jim
Im going to try growing some dickinsonia and some painted ferns from spores as soon as they spore out, this might be be a stupid question but do you need 2 plants for fertile spore? I only have 1 of each and dont want to waste my time if they wont grow anyway. thanks Caleb
cgarvin, no you don't need two ferns, from what I've read the spores are both and do their comingling after they leave the plant. I did mix different spores together of the same species to see if I could get a hybrid. they are too young yet to tell. lol, Jim
pinkpoodlegirl, my maidenhair ferns ( Adiantum capillus Veneris ), five finger pedatum (Adiantum pedatum)
are deciduous, they all have come back every year. Himalayan Maidenhair Adaintum venustum is everygreen but I haven't found one yet. hostajim1
I just started an unknown fern I found near my work. I think it's a spleenwort, but not 100% sure. The leaflets are single and very wide, they kind of look like candle flames. I'll post pics and stuff when it germinates. I used a mix of peat, perlite and sand, in a medium sized Sterilite container.
raydio, I used a african violet mix to germinate spores and it worked well, whatever mix you use be sure to sterilize or you will have fungi problems down the line. then you will have to start over. also the temp. should be around 70%f. lol Jim
The spores form the Autumn fern shed by the next day and I planted three boxes of them. I made the boxes half peat on one side and crocks over peat on the other. Crocks were from coarse sand size to nickel (coin) size.
I cut several Christmas fern frond today and layed them out on wax paper (over white paper, so I can see them.)
This is becoming quite an interesting experience. Just to think that all it takes is one frond off an interesting fern to get lots of them over time. I'm concentrating on hardy ferns as I have so little indoor window room, but if I see a ripe frond on and interesting 'must-have'...
I might start harvesting spores and bottling them to store and trade later.
I have them in a mostly northern (slightly eastern) window indoors. Should be in the mid 70's as it's a basement window with central AC.
Brent, the spores turn from green to brown. and then if you put them on a white piece of paper overnight, there will be an outline of the frond in the morning with thousands of spores. their is an excellent book out called Making More Plants by Ken Druse. lol hostajim1
raydio, what is the purpose of the clay shards added to the mix ? I'm curious. I've just finished transplanting all of my fern seedlings into 2" pots. I have more in 4" pots that I trans. earlier. some are slower than others. now I've been looking under fern fronds for spores for germinating in the fall. this thing is contageous. also I'm working on hybridizing Hostas. I have a plant rack I made with worklights for germinating and growing all my seedlings. hostajim1
About sporagia, the "dots" or other-shaped parts that produce and release spores: the exact color will depend on the type of fern you have. Some just go dark green and some, like the "Autumn Fern" just get deep red. Some other ferns that produce their spores along the edge of the leaflet, don't really look very different when they're ready. You just kinda have to watch those and hope they've matured. A hint would be that the edge seems to open up a bit.
The Chrisymas fern frons need a little rubbing to drop their spores. Nothing was showing on the paper. After a light rub, they were all over the place. I also got a second harvest form the Autumn and Log ferns by lightly rubbing them.
radio, thanks for the clarification. I can't pass one of my ferns without looking at the underside for spores. I know I need to get out more!!! but this horticulture thing is so interesting. I'm going out to do more crosses on my hosta when I get done with the e-mail. hostajim1
I just started collecting spores, several of my hardy ferns have mature spores. I have some that didn't spores last year, so that's exciting. my Dicksonia is three years old and still doesn't have spores, darn!!! I want to have a grove of them but hate spending the money on the big ones. I have 4 so far. Jim
Regarding when spores are ready and what they look like. I have common ferns, " macho" ferns, a rabbit's foot fern and several Japanese ferns. I've noticed what look like dark brown "dots" on the underside of the macho fern fronds. Are these spores? Haven't investigated on the other ferns to see these types of changes, but I'll be looking. I'd like to try with the rabbit's foot and the Japanese ferns. Thanks.
P.S. is there a link you could post to some pics? Thanks.
I grew mine in a heated propogator 68-72F. Use a leafy compost and gritty soil mix if you have it, sterilize by pouring boiling water over it and let cool. An ordinary shallow seed tray with drainage holes is fine, the spore should be sprinkled thinly over the surface. I kept mine under a window inside so it got light but was generally shaded from bright light. A lid with one vent open, one closed or both closed to keep it moist, and a fine spray of boiled water to keep it fairly wet but not drowned.
I did some in a shady spot in the greenhouse and they grew but some parts went black, but I still got a few ferns which I may add are still in the tray and desparately need transplanting! I'm reluctant to do more because I have too much to do already.
You should see a fine green haze growing on the surface, This turns to green livery stuff, which you should take pieces of and put on top of their own pots before the fern leaves and roots form. It can work well if you just let the strongest take over and wait a couple of years until they have good roots. This can't be done if growing Cyathea tree ferns as the roots can't be disturbed.
Gymgirl, I thought the same thing about wasting seeds, so I dumped the whole thing on the media on one of my Japanese Painted. the ferns came up so dense that I couldn't get them apart to transplant. the others that I did shake off first gave me a lot, ( say about 50, approximation?) in a clamshell plastic container. I did poke some small holes in the plastic top and bottom. before germination I open the boxes every few days and mist the tops until the babies poke their heads up. the babies appear as a heart shape before they send up their ferny leaves, I let them get about an inch high then transplant. for light I made up my own plant rack with florescent worklights about 2 inch over the babies. if you are doing just a few you only need one worklight $ 8.00. wallaby I sterilize my soil in the microwave, it was fast and easy. I did pour boiling water on my trays. I do use a biocide as a precaution that I spray on the surface once a week. only because I had it on hand. I'm now planting out ferns in 4 inch pots, that I started last fall. hostajim1
raydio, looks good!!! keep trying on the other ones, maybe they weren't mature. who knows, I started 8 species in the last 6 weeks, and so far 2 have babies, it takes longer with some so just keep checking on them, don't give up. I keep them around 75%f over a heat mat, with light. I don't know if some species require dark. so far all the ones I have started have been with light. Jim
Ditto on the question of ripeness in the spores. I've wondered the same. Also the differences in temps, lighting and so on. And I'll be keeping these for a good while yet.
They're getting NE light with only the briefest taste of early morning direct sun, if that. I'll be moving them outdoors soon due to space concerns.
All those I have started are hardy outdoor ferns and a couple are from those occuring locally. I have also mixed spores in the same flats, in the off-chance that a hybrid might come from it. Some flats were seeded half and half.
The sad part is: I was so busy (like that's a good excuse :-Z ) that I didn't label my boxes, thinking that I'll recognize whatever comes up. And that's true, but it is a bit slack, I know, and I have to admit it when I'm asked "What kind is that?". O well.
Well done Robert! I do think there is something about the light, sun, water conditions etc. I took some spore from my spore grown tree ferns in the greenhouse, sowed in 2 trays and put it in the spare bedroom , on the floor where it got some light and covered with plastic. One got more light than the other, I don't remember which one grew now, with or without more light, but only one did grow. I think it was the one with more sun.
I brought it downstairs and put it in a 'safe' place on top of another large pot, with intention of later putting it in the greenhouse as the air in the house can be too dry. My sweet Mitsi cat jumped over it and that was the end of that!
I too am often guilty of not labelling, I have done it more now as I found I couldn't remember, thinking I would. Just too many things going on. Even if I do label I sometimes haven't put a date as the label is already prepared, then I struggled to remember when I sowed something. There comes a time when you need to know!
I set some spores going from my dicksonia antartica about 8 weeks ago, and I was wondering how long it takes to transition from the mossy stage to prothalli
I set them going under a varity of conditions, sterlized mix/non sterilzed mix, low light conditions, diffuse light, full light, and variety of heating conditions. I was suprised to notice that dispite the differences in conditions at about 4 weeks and cases where showing a lot of mossy growth on the surface.
although the airtight container and a lot of moisture, and diffuse light, 20c temp. seemed to perform best to this point.
I've also over done the sowing i think becuase i have so much mossy growth I can barley see the sowing mix underneath in some cases.
Anyway I got to this stage at about 4 weeks, 5 weeks on from that, all are still at the moss stage and I haven't seen any sign of prothalli development. I guess I just have to be patient, but i'm worried that perhaps they have stalled,
What kind of timings from moss to prothalli have people noticed in thier experience ?
mec2, I haven't had spores on my dicksonia yet, the oldest is 3 years. the process I use on spores involves laying the leaf on a paper and leaving it overnight, usually there are so many spores that there will be an outline of the leaf the next day. then I take the paper to the wastebasket and dump them in. then I take the paper and turn it upside down and snap it onto the soilless mix and snap the back of it. that way you don't get the what you called the moss. there are enough left on the paper that you will get a much more manageable number of babyies. I got this from Ken Druse's book Making More Plants. I was a nonbeliever at first and used all on the paper. I finally through the whole thing out. I use plastic clamshell containers and sterilize my soil, container, and when I snap it shut, I open it only to check for moisture. also I use bottom heat and light. I wonder if you could send me a leaf from your dicksonia since mine haven't spored yet? Jim
Unfortunatley i just gave it a summer hair cut as most of its fronds where looking pretty beat up after the winter, so it only has a couple of new fronds right now. it'll no doubt take a few months to get any of em mature enough to develop sproangia. I wish i had posted this a bit sooner. . I'll not be so quick chop em off next time
The fact that my current lot of mossy growth is so tightly packed affect the chances of succesful development (outside of the fact it gonna be a headache to work with) I think i read somewhere that this might make an prothalli go male.
Out of interest of big is your 3 year old, I know these trees grow slowing. I bought mine at a garden centre its about 6ft tall. I also read somewhere they don't product spores until they are about 23yr old. is that true or total BS ?
mec2, my 3 year old has a trunk about 6" diam. and the fronds are 4' across, it's far from slow growing I bought it in a gallon pot. the root ball would fit in a 5 gal pot now. I have 2 that I bought last year in 4" pot and they're 2 gal size now. Jim
It's a little late to share this now but just thought someone might find it interesting. This info comes from "The American Horticultural Society: Plant Propagation" book. (Amazing book btw and pretty cheap online, has anything and everything you could ever want to know about plant propagation for any and every plant you could ever want lol)
Anyway, it has a nice section on ferns including how to propagate from spores.
1.) Select a frond with ripe sporangia. Cut off the frond with a clean, sharp knife. Place it in a clean folded sheet of paper or envelope in a warm, dry place for 2-3 days to collect the spores.
Hint: If you select a frond with bright orange/black sporangia they are too ripe already (the book has pictures to show you what looks ripe or not)
2.) Gently tap the spores onto the surface of a sterilized mixture of equal parts peat and sharp sand, or two parts sphagnum moss to one or coarse sand, in a 3in (8cm) pot. Cover with a clear plastic wrap.
3.) Keep the pot in a closed case at the appropriate temperature in indirect light. After 6-9 months, lift small "patches" of the green prothalli that have developed on the surface.
4.) Set the patches up to 3/4in (2cm) apart in slight depressions in a pot of fresh soil mix. Spray with sterilized water, cover, and place the pot in the same propagating environment as before.
5.) When the young fronds are large enough to handle, pot them into cells or trays of moist soilless potting mix. Keep in a humid environment, then pot on when small fronds develop.