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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How to Grow Ferns from Spores

I've done it on accident, done it on purpose but can't always do it when I want to-- growing ferns from spores that is!

Vincent posted about a spore success story over at the dendroboard.com forum.

About 3 weeks ago I mentioned losing a little terrarium fern, Quercifilix zeylanica, and that I would try growing the spores that were left on dead fronds.

It's working....

These fronds just were left standing on dead plants since August, when they were killed by hot dry weather, until I finally cleaned out that terrarium in mid-November.

You can see the spore packets rubbed off on paper are huge- the dried frond in the close-up is over an inch long. The spores stayed in these seed-like packets instead of coming apart into dust, so I just left them that way.

I planted them on Black Gold "Cocoblend" potting soil, screened through a kitchen sieve. I didn't "sterilize" the soil, but the bag was pretty new and was probably pasteurized at the factory. I washed my hands, rubbed the spore packets off the frond, sprinkled them lightly over the soil, and misted them a little bit. After sealing the containers I put them in the back of a terrarium where they would get bright but not direct light.

I ignored them for about 3 weeks because nothing ever grows when I watch it every day.

You can (sort of) see that the prothalli are growing in tight little clusters from each spot where a spore packet fell. Next time I'll try crushing them to see if they won't spread out a little more evenly.

I just misted them lightly again to give the sperm some swimming room, just in case they're already releasing any. I'll update when anything new happens, but it might be a while before I see gametophyte fronds.



  1. Hello Lauren; what a fun blog you have! I'm going over to update that post on Dendroboard now, though there's not a lot different yet. I'll be trying spores of the japanese bean fern the same way pretty soon.


  2. Hello! Newcomer to your blog. Any updates on the ferns growth? Not sure if you've posted it somewhere already and I've missed it in my random clicking around. Truly loving and enjoying your blog! ^.^

  3. It's been a long tiime, and sadly that batch ended up dying of neglect. But, this same batch of spores was still viable, and I'm back to the prothallus stage with them again. When I get to the next stage I'll update wherever I've posted about them.


    1. Sounds good, Vincent. I'd love to hear about your this new attempt.


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