How to Propagate Ferns – 3 Ways – Step by Step

Ferns are one of the first plants that appeared on our planet, so they have a long evolution to adapt to their environment and survive. Therefore, it is very interesting to learn about the reproduction of ferns, which can occur in several ways, on their own or with our intervention if, for example, we want to get a plant equal to a fern that we have at home, propagating it to plant it in more places. Learn all about how to propagate ferns in this article.

How to Propagate Fern

The first thing you should know to understand how ferns reproduce and how they are born is that these plants have several systems of propagation and multiplication. Specifically, they can reproduce in three ways: spores, cuttings, and stolons, although they can also reproduce in vitro.

Ferns are seedless plants, so we will talk about fern spores as the natural and main form of sexual reproduction of these plants with millions of years of existence. This begins when the spore sacs mature and open to spreading them through the wind. Of all of them, only those that find a place with the necessary conditions will begin their growth stage. The first form of the plant in its almost embryonic stage is called prothallus, which is usually no more than 0.6″ (1.5 cm) long. The reproduction of ferns, like that of lycopods and echisetums, begins with the production of male and female gametes that, once fertilized, give rise to the egg or zygote from which a new plant will be born.

Similarly, there are also ferns capable of reproducing through their subway stems. These create small protuberances that are very similar to bulbs and, once mature, fall to form another plant.

Finally, by asexual reproduction of ferns, the technique of dividing the fern clump is also used. In this way, we ensure that we will get the same plant without too much risk. Of course, when dividing ferns it is necessary to make sure that the divisions have enough roots so that the plant can root quickly in its new container.

Propagate Ferns from Cuttings

Although the vast majority of ferns reproduce by spores, there are several types of them capable of reproducing by cuttings. To achieve this type of propagation from cuttings of ferns we will explain everything step by step to make it easier for you:

1- We recommend that you do it in late summer, so wait until it is this time to do it or do the whole process and keep the plants inside your house with a temperature suitable to that time to simulate it. Once this is cleared up, start preparing the cutting.

2- The cutting should be separated from the rhizome with its root network. Cut a section of the cutting making sure it contains at least three root nodules. We recommend that you always take it close to the fronds that protrude from the rhizome of the plant itself.

3- Once the cutting is ready, you should move it quickly to the place where you want to plant it, either in a pot or in the ground. Cover it and do not compact the soil too much to favor drainage, since these plants need constant watering but not waterlogging.

4- If necessary, you can use some type of specialized fertilizer and/or rooting agent to ensure optimal growth and development.

propagate ferns from cuttings

How to Propagate Ferns by Stolons

This other method of fern propagation is usually used for specific species, particularly those with thin, elongated stolons with several terminal buds. These, when they come into contact with the soil, produce offshoots that can then be separated and repotted, thus obtaining the new plant.

Generally, this method is used in greenhouses that have an optimal climate, around 77 °F (25 ºC), and that have specific containers with peat and mulch, in addition to correcting the pH of this substrate with other substances, such as calcium hydroxide. The important thing is that using this method, ferns can be produced throughout the year.

fern stolons

Propagate Ferns from Spores

Finally, we explain how to propagate ferns with spores, a process that occurs by itself in nature but we can do at home if what you want is to get new ferns from the one you already have at home:

1- With extreme care, collect the yellow, orange or reddish powder (depending on the species) that is usually found on the underside of the fern leaves. It is recommended to collect it when the small capsule containing the spores has turned a dark color. In nature the capsules open and the spores fall out, are moved by wind and gravity to a new area, and thrive in the soil.

2- After collecting it you will need a container with soil. However, it is better to opt for more mineral soil than the universal substrate offers. Likewise, the soil you use should be moist but not too compacted.

3- Once you have spread the spores on top of the soil, water the container abundantly and cover it to prevent the spores from escaping because of the wind when the substrate dries out. Make sure that the container is always well moistened by watering several times a day in small doses.

4- Now you will have to be patient. It may take months before you can see firsthand that your attempt to reproduce ferns has given the expected results.

5- If you have obtained your first ferns we advise you to place them in a place with enough shade, but that receives a little light of the sun, never of direct form. If we have a place where moss grows, that will be a good place to place them.

We hope this article on how to propagate ferns will be useful. Learn more about the best time to water plants.

propagate ferns from spores