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Ferns are known for their feathery fronds and intricate patterns, which can add a touch of natural beauty and elegance to any indoor or outdoor space. They’re relatively easy to care for, and can help to purify the air, making them a great choice for indoor environments.
Whether you are looking to create a lush garden oasis, add some greenery to a room, or simply enjoy the beauty of nature, ferns are great plants to have in your collection. This beginner’s guide has all the information you will need to have your ferns happy and thriving.
Ferns, scientifically known ahaveteridophytes, are a unique type of vascular plant that is known to reproduce through spores and has neither flowers nor seeds. Even though they don’t grow flowers, they are like flowering plants as they have leaves, stems and roots.
Ferns have been around for millions of years and are one of the oldest groups of plants on earth. Fossil records show that ferns existed as early as the Devonian period, around 360 million years ago. Throughout history, ferns have been used for a variety of purposes, including medicine, food, and ornamental decoration.
In ancient times, ferns were believed to have magical properties and were used in rituals and ceremonies. During the Victorian era, ferns became popular houseplants and were used in decorative arrangements and displays. Today, ferns continue to be beloved for their beauty, air-purifying qualities, and versatility in landscaping and gardening.
Ferns have distinct characteristics when compared to other plants which make them stand out from the rest of the plant world. Most ferns have a well-organized internal network of vessels that aids in the transportation of water, nutrients, and other minerals and salts which helps in plant growth.
Their spores are usually present underneath the fronds or the leaves of the ferns. Plants that have a larger surface area of fronds and spores can reproduce on a larger scale. There are over 230 species of ferns growing in countries all around the world which are classified into various categories according to their structure, function, and appearance.
The stems and the fronds give the plant that unique and artistic appearance that every plant lover is looking for. These plants can be planted both indoors and outdoors according to the type and the selection is unlimited and can vary depending on your liking.
Uses of Ferns
As a popular range of indoor and outdoor decorative plants, ferns also have many unknown uses. Approximately 54 species of ferns have revealed their medicinal uses in several sicknesses such as fever, cough, colds, and even illnesses such as some kidney problems, eczema, rashes, and the list goes on.
Apart from being cultivated as ornamental plants for their delicate beauty and aesthetic nature, ferns are also used as food in certain parts of the world. Several species such as cinnamon fern, ostrich fern, and bracken are consumed in European and Asian countries.
There are several methods of cultivation, where propagation from spores is the most used technique. This is done by the collection of spores from fronds. The spores present under the fronds start to darken in color and fall off eventually when they are mature. This is a sign to let you know that they are ready to be collected and planted.
When your ferns are mature, place spore-bearing fronds in a dry paper bag and leave it in a dry and warm place for a day to collect the spores. Make sure to allow the spores to fall on their own. After the collection of spores, follow the steps for planting.
- Fill a container or pot with fertilized and moist soil.
- Drizzle the spores off the paper bag onto the potted soil and slightly press the spores onto the soil.
- Mist the soil gently to hydrate and moisten the spore bearing soil.
- Cover the container or pot with a plastic or glass cover and place in a warm area with indirect light.
- Keep misting and watering the soil, when necessary, until a growth is seen.
Caring for Ferns
Unlike many other houseplants, ferns are known to be low in maintenance and are easy to grow. However, to help the plant thrive, a little care is required. Here are some important factors that are essential for growing and caring for ferns.
Water ferns regularly especially during their premature growth period and in warm and dry climates. Misting frequently is also recommended especially for indoor ferns to ensure the soil is always moist.
Some ferns require partial drying of soil in between watering but take extra caution when deciding the dryness of the soil as if it gets too dry, it might affect the growth of the plant. Also, don’t over water your plant as retained water or soggy soil may cause the roots to rot.
Most ferns prefer shady places with less direct light. Deep dark places may also stunt its growth so make sure to place the plant in a shady place with some indirect light. There are some species of ferns that can handle direct sunlight. For these types, extra moisture is needed as direct light may dehydrate the plant. If grown outdoors, it’s best to place them under a shady tree with damp soil. But due to their low requirement of light, ferns are a great choice for an indoor houseplant.
A well-draining, moist soil is essential for the healthy growth of ferns. It’s recommended to plant them in slightly acidic to neutral soil for adequate growth.
Ferns require soil that is high in humidity. Temperature can vary according to the species; however, ferns have a broad tolerance for warmth.
Ferns typically don’t require fertilizers for growth. However, if soil conditions are poor, a well-balanced fertilizer can be used. Natural fertilizers such as rotten manure and garden compost can also be used.
Ferns – Common Problems
As mentioned above, ferns require the least maintenance, but if their preferred conditions are not fulfilled, the growth will be affected. If the plants are watered excessively or if good drainage is not provided, the soil will become soggy, and the roots may start to rot. This will turn the fronds yellow in color and droopy.
You can overcome this problem by reducing watering for several days as required and increasing drainage in the pots or containers.
If the plants are exposed to direct and excessive light, the leaves may lose their foliage and turn brown. Reducing the light or placing the plant in a shady place may help to recover the problem to some extent. Inadequate watering of the plants may also cause discoloration of the leaves. Trimming off affected areas and watering the plant to its required amount may help to bring the plant back to life.
Ferns are an exceptionally unique and interesting type of plant species to grow in homes. The structure and the artistic appearance of the plants and the fact that it has a wide variety of species and that each one is different to another, makes it even more fascinating.
Even though ferns are only known as ornamental plants used for decorative purposes, we now know the unknown uses of ferns which adds extra value to the plant. Follow the simple tips on this beginner’s guide on how to grow and care for ferns and bring that luxurious greenery indoors.