The Q&A Archives: Resurrection Plant

Question: My mother died in 1994. She left behind a container with about four resurrection plants. I set them in water the other day, careful not to use fresh tap water because of the chlorine content. They have opened up, beautifully, but I have no idea what they are to do or look like now. How do I take care of them? They are in the house, therefore warm and well lit, but will they grow? Have I chosen the wrong time to attempt this? I can't find anything that is precise as to how to care for these plants. They aren't like the Venus fly trap, are they? I mean having no true growth outside of their native soils. Do you have anything, references, links, suggestions, advice, a contact who specializes that you might give me?

Please help me, I don't want to lose or destroy these precious plants.

Answer: The Resurrection Fern, Polypodium polypodioides, is quite an interesting plant. In it's native rainforest habitat, when there has been rain, the fronds of this fern unroll, become green, and produce spores. During dry spells, they turn brown and curl up. This plant is a true epiphyte: it grows on trees but takes nothing from them other than support. As long as you keep the plant moist and provide bright light indoors, it will grow. If you hold back on water the plant will appear to die off, but is really only resting, waiting for the next rainy season. It doesn't require regular feeding, because it manages to collect nitrogen from the atmosphere. You should have fun growing this plant with the 'cast iron' constitution!

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