Ferns – we have all heard of them, yet we fail to completely understand, and maybe even appreciate, them. It seems that people either love them, or hate them. But ferns, as houseplants, are relatively easy to care for once you get to know them! They might be a little needy, in comparison to say snake plants, but that can be great for people who enjoy taking care of their plants everyday. (I am looking at you, overwaterers!) Either way, they have became one of the most popular houseplants. If you are looking to add a new addition to your sill this fall, try a Fern!
So What is a Fern?
The ferns that we see and know today are actually quite ancient and mysterious. They first appeared on Earth as far back as 360-400 MYA! Fossil records indicate that they have outlived dinosaurs, saw the civilization of man, and survived numerous extinction threats. Before ferns – there were mosses, lichens, algae, and fungi scattered about, but nothing taller than those grew on the landscape. Ferns became the dominant plant life form because unlike their predecessors, the mosses, they had evolved a primitive but true vascular system. And around 360 MYA, the landmasses of the earth collided, forming the supercontinent Pangaea. Ferns spread throughout Pangaea, covering it almost entirely! Interestingly enough though, most surviving ferns that we see today actually evolved much later, during the Cretaceous Period, after flowering plants existed (about 100-70 MYA). Many of the original ferns went extinct due to the several ice ages. And to this day, there are still new fern species being discovered yearly!
Image via earthlyuniverse
How are ferns different from most plants?
Ferns are their own lineages. What that mean is they do not grow seeds, nor flowers, but reproduce by splitting, rhizomes, and spores.
Fern spores via here
Because the spores have no protective shell to protect it, unlike seeds, it also explains why they love high humidity environment. In addition, they are more primitive than other plants.
Platycerium spp., natives to tropical South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. They are different from most ferns because they are epiphytes-living on trees instead of in the soil. They have pronounced sporophytes (the stags) and pronounced gametophytes (the shields), and both are separate parts in the staghorn fern’s life cycle. Not to get to scientific-y here, but each ‘stag’ frond is created upon successful fusion of gametes produced by the gametophyte. Staghorn fern looks great, and does well, in hanging and mounted planters.Shop Staghorn Fern and Olmsted
Photo via Pinterest
Birds Nest Fern
Asplenium nidus, Birds Nest, is another easygoing fern that is native to tropical regions such as southeast Asia, Australia, east Africa and Hawaii. The fronds emerge coiled up from the center of the plant. As their unique ruffly leaves unfurled, they create a vase-like or bird’s nest shape. Hence the name, birds nest. Given the right indoor environment-high humid and medium to bright light-they will thrive. They also make a great gift since they are known for the love ferns.
Shop our Bird Nest Fern
General Ferns care
SUNLIGHT: Medium indirect bright light to low light. Never direct sun, unless the species demands it.
WATER: Water weekly. Allow potting mix to half-dry out before watering. However, soil can be moist or wet, but not sopping-wet. Water more frequently during warmer months and drier months and fertilize during growth.
HUMIDITY: Any humidity level other than dry will do, but it prefers very moist air that will help lead to larger leaves and faster growth. A regular misting with a squirt-bottle will help raise the humidity.
TEMPERATURE: 65°F-85°F (18°C-30°C). It’s best not to let it go below 60°F (15°C).
In general, Ferns have been known to purify the air, and are excellent starter plants due to their low maintenance. There are thousands of fern species today. I am curious, do you have ferns? What’s your favorite? Comment below.