growing from spores

Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

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

So. Puget Sound, WA(Zone 8b)

Congratulations. I have a fern I'm especially fond of and would like to try that. Is there a particular place you got the info to get started?

Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

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

So. Puget Sound, WA(Zone 8b)

Thank you!

West Central, WI(Zone 4a)

Oh thank you for the propagation info. I have a couple of ferns that I love and would like to try this.

Marie

Sterling, VA(Zone 6b)

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

Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

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

Cottage Grove, OR(Zone 8a)

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

Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

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

Fair Lawn, NJ(Zone 6b)

If I may answer that ? No, you don't need 2 plants.
Perhaps this picture helps?
http://www.esu.edu/~milewski/intro_biol_two/lab_2_moss_ferns/Fern_life_cycle.html

Fair Lawn, NJ(Zone 6b)

Jim,
you said it nicely, while I was still looking for a good link.

Cottage Grove, OR(Zone 8a)

thanks for the info , I just noticed the maidenhair ferns are getting ready to spore so I can give those a try first. thanks again Caleb

Thumbnail by cgarvin
Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

cgarvin, that's a nice one, I'll have to check mine, there weren't spores on mine last year. I have about 5 new hardy ferns this year already. all of them I would like to propagate. lol hostajim1

Rock Hill, SC(Zone 7b)

Are maidenhair ferns hardy in zone 7? I bought one this spring and love it but will bring it in if it won't make it through the winter.

Brenda~

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

They are very hardy, but it depends on which one you have. The one sold as a house plant is not.

http://davesgarden.com/pf/go/164/index.html

Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

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

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

I planted some spores agaes ago and they germinated rapidly and began growing. This was at a job at a nursery and I left them behind. :-( I sprinkled the spores on pure finely ground sphagnum peat.

Just today, I gathered three Autumn Fern fronds (Dryopteris erythrosora, also called Red Shield fern) and one from Dryopteris celsa (Log Fern).

The spores have been falling from the Log fern, but not yet from the Autumn.

I'm planning to start them on crushed terra cotta pottery over milled sphagnum in small shoe-box sized covered boxes.

Robert.

Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

raydio, good luck, can you post your results on this forum? hostajim1

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

I will keep you posted.

Question: The instructions for adding the terra cotta bits on top, didn't say how finely they should be broken or crushed. Any advice? Anyone? Bueller?

I may do a half-and-half set-up to test the shard sizes or do a box each way and maybe try the pure milled moss in another.

Robert.

SF Bay Area, CA(Zone 9b)

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.

Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

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

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

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.

Robert.

Sterling, VA(Zone 6b)

How do you tell that the spores are ready?

- Brent

Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

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

Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

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

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

Using the crockery pieces was given in F. Gordon Foster's _Ferns to Know and Grow_ and he didn't say why.

About the size he wrote: " ...On top of the soil spread a thin layer of finely divided "crocks" or broken flower pots......." He placed these on a 1/2 inch layer of African Violet mix.

It was just the method he used based on his experience, I guess. Maybe the crocks simulate a stony soil surface and after being soaked in water they'd hold and give off moisture.

Robert.

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

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.

Robert.

Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

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

Buffalo, MN(Zone 4a)

Should the soil be moist when I put the spores on? My ferns haven't spored yet but I want to be ready.

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Turbo it has to be quite wet but free draining. The male spore has to be able to swim to the female spore. A cover and shade will help keep in the moisture, otherwise it may not work.

Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

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

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

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.

This message was edited Jul 27, 2006 1:47 PM

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Hostajim1,
Wouldn't shaking the paper over the garbage can first waste a lot of spores you could be using? Just a thought...

Your method sounds simple enough for me to try at some point. How do you water? Do you poke drainage holes in the plastic containers? what about light? and air circulation in the covered container?

Let me know. Thanks.

Buffalo, MN(Zone 4a)

Thx Wallaby, that will help. My ostrich ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) have spores as well as my japanese painted fern, and I can't wait to get started.

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

It really is very easy if you follow a procedure.

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.

Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

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

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks hostajim1

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

Here's the fern nursery as of today. I have three boxes and two large containers. Only the middle one here is doing much. Another of the boxes is showing a bit of growth, but nothing like this one.

Robert.

Thumbnail by raydio
Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

Babies galore!

Robert.

Thumbnail by raydio
Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

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

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