Can You Grow Ferns From Seeds?

Written by kimberly richardson
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Can You Grow Ferns From Seeds?
Ferns are ancient plants. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Ferns have managed to outlast giant insects, ice ages and dinosaurs to find a new niche as a favourite houseplant. True ferns are developmentally older than seed-bearing plants and do not produce seeds. Instead, ferns rely on spores to ensure their survival.

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Brown or reddish spots appear on the underside of mature fern fronds. These spots are made up of sporangium, the spore-producing structures of the fern. Once the spores open, they fall to moist ground and develop into the fern's male and female reproductive structures. A new fern grows from the fertilised embryo.

Can You Grow Ferns From Seeds?
Some spore clusters are large and obvious. (spores...fougère image by rachid amrous-spleen from

Growing Ferns

Spores usually darken and mature in summer. Cut the frond and place it in a paper bag until the frond is dry, then shake the spores into a soilless, sterile peat planting mix. Ensure the mix is constantly moist; cover the planting container with cling film if needed. Keep it at room temperature, and transplant new fronds when they are 1 inch tall. This process usually takes many weeks.

Young fiddleheads grow very slowly.
Young fiddleheads grow very slowly. (fern image by Benjamin Jefferson from

Asparagus Fern

Although nurseries often label this plant a fern, the asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus) is not a true fern, despite its fernlike, feathery leaves. It produces small pink or white flowers that develop into bright red, seed-bearing berries. You may plant the seeds, but most gardeners prefer dividing older plants.

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