Friday, July 17, 2009

Unfinished business re: How to Make Your Own Ferns at Home

Last November, I put up a post describing how I had taken spores from an Asplenium nidus and a Cyrtomium falcatum at work, and brought them home and germinated them (or whatever the appropriate verb would be: I'm not sure "germinated" is right if there are no seeds involved) on vermiculite. I don't remember how long ago the actual sowing of the spores would have been, but it was probably a few months before the post, so let's be conservative and say it was September.

In the November post, things had progressed to the point where I had some tiny green dots on the surface of the vermiculite, but nothing at all frondy or leafy yet.

And now:

I still don't have much of anything frondy-leafy. Ferns are horrible, perverse creatures that will not do what I want them to do. But it's obviously bigger than it was in November, and they've grown a lot faster since I put them in a west window (where they get some actual sunlight occasionally), and if you look closely at the pictures, full-size, you can see a couple of things that might be very young fronds, as well as fuzzy white things covering the vermiculite that might well be extremely young roots.

So we might have actual ferns at some point. I mean, these are actual ferns, but -- you know what I mean. Too early to tell whether I have Asplenium, Cyrtomium, or a mix of the two. I'm hoping for more Cyrtomium than Asplenium, because Aspleniums tend not to get along with me for more than about six months.

Is this a practical way to get ferns? Well, that sort of depends on what you consider "practical," I guess. (It also depends on whether or not it ever actually works: it's worth pointing out that it's been almost a year now and I haven't gotten a single fern out of this.) While it's true that this has taken a long time, I've also had to put almost no work into it. So if it's not very immediately gratifying, it's at least not extremely demanding of time and energy, either. Possibly we'd be closer to immediately gratifying if I'd given these guys sunlight earlier.

I'll be back with another update if and when something new happens.


Sunita said...

You may have better luck if you muse out loud that its about time you threw that pot of vermiculite away (within hearing distance of said pot / green fuzz/whatever, of course)
Still, its an interesting experiment.

Anonymous said...

Coll blog man... !!!!!!

Lance said...

Looks a little like seaweed. But fun anyway

Zeï said...

Yes, it is called germination for spores too.

Growing ferns from spore is my favorite thing. I love Adiantums, and I try and grow every species I can find. I have successfully grown A. capillus-veneris or A. raddianum. (too hard to identify yet, but I guess A. c-v. because the mother plant was from France, bought around the 80's, and they tend to have more of them, even more so in the 80's).

The maturing process takes a long time. When you see the prothallus, I would say the hard part is done. They now have to either self-fertilise or fertilise each other (depending on the fern specie) with help from the constant microlayer of water on them and ambient humidity. Then, the first frond will eventually come soon enough, and now you have a sporophyte!
I recommend reading the page on prothallium on almighty Wikipedia for more info about them.

Where I have most difficulty however, is when I transfert the baby ferns of 5-10 fronds from their mini-greehouse to the ambient humidity at their spot in the house. There seems to be no in-between states possible, and they suffer for a long time afterwards. They don't die, but they do suffer. But it's not like I should keep them forever in there, I must kick them out someday!
With every batch of spores, I play with the parameters and try to make it better and faster. So I am very interested by your own experiments on this.

Keep us posted on them please, I love it!

Nature Assassin said...

This is fantastic! They're so gross and adorable. Can't wait to see how they progress. I just collected spores from my strap fern, which was fun, but I had no idea how to germinate them. Now I do!