Ask a Question forum: How to propagate a fern from wilderness?

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Virginia (Zone 7a)
Rez
Oct 6, 2016 10:13 AM CST
I googled this quite a bit but can't find the answer. Where I live different types of fern grow in the wilderness and I like to grow them at home. I've cut a branch a few times and planted it in a pot or in a vase of water but each time it died. This time I immersed the branch in a bucket of water (although some of it stayed outside) and it seems to be dying again. So I don't know what to do. I know that using spores takes a long time so am looking for an alternative.
[Last edited by Rez - Oct 6, 2016 10:14 AM (+)]
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
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greene
Oct 6, 2016 10:42 AM CST
Ferns don't root from a "branch". They form an underground community and you have to dig up a large area to insure that you have the correct parts necessary for the fern to survive - maybe about 6-8 inches from the main center - dig up all the soil and roots and try to keep everything intact as much as possible. Also, you will need to supply the same kind of soil conditions to insure the fern will grow happily in its new location. If the fern is a wild growing fern it may not be happy growing inside the house; best to transplant it outside to appreciate.

Note: Some ferns are protected or endangered and it's best to check first and always obtain permission from the property owner before digging. Thumbs up
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Oct 6, 2016 11:00 AM CST
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ieTUftJLgA
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Oct 6, 2016 1:01 PM CST
Please don't dig up plants from the wilderness. Identify them and find them at a native plant nursery. The chances for survival of one 'collected' are slim at best and once you take it, it is gone forever. Crying
Name: Steve Claggett
Portland Orygun (Zone 8a)
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madcratebuilder
Oct 6, 2016 1:24 PM CST
Check with your state wildlife dept, you may be able to buy a permit to harvest wild plants. Here in OR it used to cost $10 for a year and you got a map of the areas you could harvest from.

You need part of the root system with ferns.
Spectamur agendo
Name: Laurie Basler
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids
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lauriebasler
Oct 6, 2016 1:43 PM CST
Here in washington the ferns are full of terrible bugs that get on your plants and home. They will not tolerate indoors that I have ever seen. The risk to the fern is nothing compared to the earwigs and fungus to name only two that you will find adapt great to your home. Just wait for a sale. Even bringing them to a yard can be a buggy nightmare. I promise.
Virginia (Zone 7a)
Rez
Oct 6, 2016 2:04 PM CST
A problem that I have is that the only places I can buy plants are Walmart, Homedepot etc. Even finding something as simple as a philodendron is not easy. There is just a once per year plant sale at the local university which is pretty small in selection.

So I got kind of creative!
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Oct 6, 2016 2:21 PM CST
Shop for native plants online. You haven't told us where you live but the west coast go-to is Las Pilitas

http://www.laspilitas.com/

By buying from a native plant nursery, you can be assured that you will get healthy bug-free plants with all their roots intact.
Virginia (Zone 7a)
Rez
Oct 6, 2016 4:45 PM CST
I live in SW Virginia.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Oct 6, 2016 4:58 PM CST
http://vnps.org/conservation/plant-nurseries/

http://findnativeplants.com/mid-atlantic/virginia-native-pla...
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Oct 7, 2016 5:54 AM CST
Rez, please consider taking a moment to complete your profile page so we all can know where you live. Thanks.

You are now a member of the biggest and best plant-related site. If you make a post to let folks know which plants you would like to own someone here may be able to mail you something that will thrive in your area.

Meanwhile, take time to read/study/research the best way to grow the plants that interest you so you can be ready when the plants arrive in the mail.

Good luck. Thumbs up
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Oct 7, 2016 7:34 AM CST
Please explain what you mean by "wilderness".
If you mean the back 40 on your own property.... No prob.
If you mean the national forest.... You could be arrested.

Here in ga, ferns from the woods are easily moved into the shade garden... As long as there is a nice deep layer of wood chips over the entire bed.
Just make sure that you own the wood lot, or have permission from the property owner.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Oct 7, 2016 9:41 AM CST
Rez lives in SW Virginia.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Oct 7, 2016 11:59 AM CST
Rez said: ... I know that using spores takes a long time so am looking for an alternative.


I apologize in advance, and I agree that it sounds like it takes multiple steps and patience.
But you might re-consider taking a shot or two at propagating ferns from spores.
You might find that you have a knack for it, or that it turns out to be easier than you thought.

If you accept up front that it might take several tries, and that the first few tries may be "learning experiences", it doesn't have to be disappointing if the first several tries fail. (And it looks like an indoor sport, so you could do it over the winter as long as you already had spores in hand.)

Then when you DO find a method that works and is easy for you, you have bragging rights! "Oh, yes, I propagate ferns from spores all the time (swagger, swagger)." And you could propagate almost any fern you find, potentially making you the Fern Conservator of SW Virginia.

If spores are sturdy enough to withstand mailing, you could even propagate ferns that other NGA members own. I see at least 50 members from VA, so some of those could be native to your area. {*}

And I found these guys online!

" One of the goals of the American Fern Society is to promote the cultivation of ferns. The AFS Spore Exchange makes hundreds of ferns available that would otherwise be unobtainable for most members. Members can share spores from rare or endangered ferns thereby safeguarding the species so that our grandchildren may also enjoy these beautiful plants."
...
"The spores from the ferns listed in the exchange have been donated by members of the AFS.
If you are an AFS member, spore packets may be ordered from the list for 50 cents each."

http://amerfernsoc.org/sporexyy.html
http://amerfernsoc.org/sporelist.html <-- list of available fern spores
http://amerfernsoc.org/sporcoll.html <-- how to collect and mail fern spores


Anyway, any gardening technique that you master gives you options. It looks like spore propagation is like micro-propagation: almost as easy to make 50 seedlings as 5. You could start your own local fern give-away or swap-fest.


{*}
http://garden.org/users/memberlist/location.php?my_location=...

There seem to be two major groups of fern spores: green spores and non-green spores.

"Fern species produce either nongreen or green spores, which have been considered to exhibit storage physiologies similar to orthodox and recalcitrant seeds, respectively. Consequently, dry storage conditions are conventionally recommended for nongreen spores and humid storage in the refrigerator over media is recommended for medium term storage of green spores and some nongreen spores not tolerant to desiccation. "

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/226905405_Conservat...

Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 7, 2016 12:03 PM CST
http://amerfernsoc.org/growcomm.html

Nine Easy (if you are patient) Steps for Growing Ferns:
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Oct 7, 2016 12:38 PM CST
Two of our California natives are Maiden Hair ferns and 5-Fingered ferns. They snuck in through the windows and invaded my greenhouse coming up in every pot in there.

I moved to Reno 3 years ago and the ferns continue to pop up here and there. I also had a Bear Paw fern (Polypodium) that was huge - I left it behind.

But this summer, 3 years later, I have baby Bear Paw ferns coming up in the cactus pots.

Spore storage is not a problem. Smiling
Name: Laurie Basler
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids
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lauriebasler
Oct 7, 2016 9:27 PM CST
I have a great little propagating book: It explains growing ferns from spores.
Below I have condensed its instruction, but will gladly tree mail you word for word if you want to try it. I think it sounds fun. Best of all it's not a fussy exercise. Once you have the pot completed, you just watch, and wait.

Pick mature frond with small green scales that looks like small liverwort, called prothallus. Google for images to recognize.
Shake the heck out of the frond in paper bag, and you will end up with brown dust, Soil should be finely sieved. peat and River Sand, and sphagnum moss, equal parts. Sprinkle the dust on soil, keep very very moist (special easy set up in instruction) Put a piece of glass over the pot. Do not uncover. (watering is done from bottom) Keep in a slightly shady but warm spot. You will see a green film form on soil and soon you will get individual tiny fronds. Sounds like this will give a lot of tiny ferns growing.

I would love to see you get to have all the ferns your heart desires, let me know if you want complete instruction. Good Luck.
[Last edited by lauriebasler - Oct 7, 2016 9:33 PM (+)]
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Name: Laurie Basler
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids
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lauriebasler
Oct 7, 2016 11:15 PM CST
Nice find @RickCory!!
Virginia (Zone 7a)
Rez
Oct 8, 2016 8:43 PM CST
A lot of interesting stuff in this thread.
@greene That would be so rad! I basically like to turn my house into an indoor garden and any good looking perennial plant would be interesting. I found I could buy some on Amazon.

@stone Good to know this.

@RickCorey Thanks this is very useful info and the fern society has a lot of interesting ferns. I try to grow the spores from the branch that I picked up last for now to see what I can do.

@lauriebasler Thanks for the info. I also found this one: http://www.hardyferns.org/fern-info-propagation.php
[Last edited by Rez - Oct 8, 2016 8:44 PM (+)]
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Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Oct 9, 2016 6:21 AM CST
It is best to not dig plants from where they grow naturally... And ferns are really hard to grow from spores. Not being mean... Whistling

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