(1) Collect healthy fronds with plenty of spore sacs on their underside. Lay them spore-side down on one half of a piece of paper, and fold in half to cover. Leave in a dry, warm place, weighing down so that the fronds are not easily disturbed.

(2) A week later, fill small pots with a 50:50 mix of multipurpose compost and sand. Cover the surface with folded, clean paper towel. Then sterilise the compost by pouring boiling water over the towels. Allow to drain, and repeat several times.

(3) Returning to the fronds, open the folded paper and remove the frond. Over the week, spores will have been released and ready for collection. Tap the paper to collect the spores in the crease and use a blade to scoop them up ready for sowing.

(4) Having cooled, peel away the paper towel from the pot, and hover the knife blade above the surface. Scatter the spores by gently tapping the blade. Don’t be tempted to sprinkle more spores if you can’t see them on the surface. They will be there!

(5) Place pots in a propagator, pour one inch (2.5cm) of cooled, boiled water in the bottom and cover. Keep in a warm, shaded place. Sprouting can occur in six weeks but often takes months. In that time aim to keep the bottom topped up with boiled, cooled water.


 Aftercare

  • Keep pots in a temperature of 10-20˚C (50-70˚F) over winter.
  • The surface of the compost will turn green, which is good.
  • Eventually small fern plants will appear; by spring they should be large enough to prick out.
  • When plants are about 1in (2.5cm) high, prick out into trays, setting the plants about 2in (5cm) apart. Keep them warm and humid, and pot them up once the trays are filled with roots.

  • Margery McGowan

    Hi – just a quick question re. ferns. I bought Japanese Painted Ferns earlier this year – unfortunately they were delivered during our early warm / dry spell and were a bit dried out on receipt. I watered them and as 2 of the plants still had green fronds potted them up however they appear to have died. Do you think there is a chance they will grow next year – should I just leave the pots over winter and see?