ferns full of spores

Collecting Growing Ferns From Spores

How to Grow Ferns from Spores the Right Way

Propagation preserving old rare ferns from sporesPropagation of ferns can be done easily using the spores. You can preserve and grow a wide variety of ferns using fern spores at home. You need to get, know how to acquire the spores or harvest the spores and how to grow them in appropriate medium and how to take care of the young plants to start growing ferns. Spores are produced and easily found on the underside of the fronds of the fern in clusters called sori. The spores of different varieties of ferns may differ in colour. Some are brown, black and yellow or green in colour. Sori are protected by a membrane called indusium till they are ripe.

Collecting Fern Spores

Like always it is the mature ferns that do produce the spores, this applies to all types of ferns, bird’s nest, maidenhair or the boston fern plants. You can get the spores from ferns collected from the wild or from your own existing ferns in your garden or from the Australian world wide web. If you are collecting spores from your own plants, you can use a hand lens to identify the matured sori. To collect the spores from fronds, keep the frond or part of the frond in between two sheets of white paper. The ripe spores will drop to the paper within 24 hours leaving a pattern on the paper. The chaff can be removed by tilting the paper slightly and tapping it gently. Good spores will remain on the paper and chaff will fall off. If you want to store the spores, use paper envelopes with a smooth finish. If you are storing the spores, make sure that you write the name of the fern and the date of collecting the spores on the envelope.

Sowing Medium

Once you have harvested the spores it is ready for sowing.

  • Take a plastic container and fill it with growing medium.
  • You can use sphagnum moss or peat moss or earthworm compost mix as the growing medium.
  • Make sure that you sterilise the medium by pouring boiling water so that any spores of fungi present in the medium get killed.
  • Sprinkle the fern spores sparingly over the medium.
  • Cover the container and keep it away from direct sunlight at about 20 degrees Celsius for germination. Covering the container offers the needed humidity and keeps out any contaminants.
  • It will take 2-6 weeks for the spores to germinate depending on the weather conditions and the type of fern.


When germination of the spores starts, you can see a green film on the surface of the growing medium. This will grow into heart-shaped prothallia. You will need magnifying lenses to identify these prothalli. Prothallia contain the sperm and egg and to encourage fertilisation mist the prothallia lightly. Within few weeks sporelings will appear.

Potting Sporelings

You can use forceps to remove the small clumps of prothallia and can transplant the clumps into other individual containers or a larger container. Make small notches in the growing soil or medium and place the clump in the notch and press it. Mist with cooled boiled or distilled water after transplanting. You may need to thin the ferns as sporelings starts to develop. The best pest management for ferns is to use sterile containers and growing mediums. You can move the ferns outdoor when they are about 4-6 inches tall.



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