Care for an Asplenium

Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)May 29, 2013

With the help of the awesomely helpful folks in NTP, have determined this is some kind of Asplenium, maybe 'Leslie.'

Pics in the NTP discussion.

I'd love to hear from folks who have had similar (or possibly the same) fern. It seems like one should either water in the center, or NOT water the center, but I'm not sure which. Apparently it's not going to rain again this summer, so it'll be all me'n the watering can. Any other tips? The only other fern I've had is a Boston fern (or similar look-alike.) That one seems to enjoy sun in the morning.

This fern is recuperating in the dappled light under a big tree...

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I'm more positive that this might be a mutant asplenium fern with forked leaves. this one like most other ferns enjoys humidity and copious amount of water with proper ventilation and heat. (a greenhouse seems to be an excellent place for them to thrive in)
if you live in the tropics this one can spread quite fast via spores that appear in trees as if they are wearing them as petticoats.
asplenium ferns are also variant when it comes to their growing needs. some are temperamental, some not. some like more sun than the others.
while more folks keep laying off this plant with hardy indoor plants, this is not a plant to keep inside.

you better not water the center of the fern unless you have excellent ventilation. (better safe than sorry)

some people address this fern with both love and hate. while very tropical in appearance and ornamental, there's no guarantee it's going to thrive outside its native distribution.
I have a few asplenium variant, most are thriving, and some do not seem to look so great.

in regards with pests, i had trouble with fern scales, which seem to flock on this plant.

This post was edited by keylyn on Wed, May 29, 13 at 12:37

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 12:15PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Heythere, Keylyn. I wasn't surprised to see you are from Australia. So many of your neighbors are full of excellent info and willing to share it, not to mention the awesome climate that supports such.

I like any plant that would be described as a mutant, and strongly think this plant hits a home run in the decorative department. Pretty sure it's not going back "home."

My gut instinct is to not water the center, glad to hear you think so also. Epiphytes in a pot are always tricky. I do put everybody outside except for a few months when it's too cold. It IS like a greenhouse here for months during the summer, so I think this guy will be happy. Hopefully it won't be too insulted during the time it must come in. It doesn't look great, but hopefully not on deaths' door after its' experience this past winter.

Do you see any sign of those scales in this pic, or would they be on the back of the leaves anyway? I've been hoping it would rain on this plant so whatever that stuff is might wash away, but no such luck yet.

Your comment renews my intermittent curiosity about some type of fern that colonizes on some trees around here. Fascinating.


    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 12:41PM
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I don't see any scale there Purp...but they would be on the top,bottom,edges,wherever! I needn't go into how much I loathe scale insect again so I won't. :D

Oh and by the way....

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 1:00PM
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i agree with the person above me.
these do not look anything like fern scales to me. (seems to be detritus more than anything)
fern scales are not very serious problem with this plant as they are superficial to the naked eye and can be scratched off very easily but will not get off from water sloshes as they're quite persistent in clinging.
but you'll keep seeing these insects unless you use a good systematic pesticide. (contact pesticide works if used properly)

all of my asplenium ferns are confined in plastic pots, and i use finely crushed tree fern slabs as medium to keep their roots properly aerated. (on certain occasions, i use regular potting soil for the hardier ones)

yours looks healthy and is about to unfurl a few fronds.
mine do not look perfectly healthy as opposed to the ones grown in controlled condition, but they're definitely improving.
have a good luck and enjoy the fern while its novelty lasts. it'll definitely grow in gaud as it matures.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 1:45PM
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I have that same Asplenium as well. If you want to know the ID, the label when I bought it said "FERN", LOL.

I water mine in the centre when I give it extra water, otherwise it gets the automatic irrigation overhead. Not sure how different it might need to be in a colder climate though.

I've got a few other (more normal) Birdsnest Ferns and treat them the same. I think the main things with them are good air flow, constant moisture, very good drainage, with high humidity as a bonus.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 10:00PM
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Eloquently put!

The above should be advice for epiphytes in general. If you can meet those standards you've got it made in the shade. :)

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 10:46PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Thanks for the added info, Keylyn, and the compliment. I did remove about half a dozen leaves that were ugly when I repotted it. That's why I described it as I did. Hopefully the leaves will stop spoiling, I haven't seen any new brown spots. Can't wait to see one of those fronds unfurl. Guess it will depend on how long it takes the plant to adjust to the recent disturbance. I'll add a pic when one starts doing that.

Tropic, thanks. LOL - "fern." Sounds like most of the labels that come with plants here - when there IS a label at all.

"...with high humidity as a bonus." Only a plant-o-phile could say that with a straight face! If LA (lower Alabama) isn't humid enough, no place is!

Asleep, thanks also. Once I realized it's an epiphyte, I felt much more comfortable. They're usually more tricky but so many of my plants are such, and these plants seem to thrive in really well-drained mix. (Like what plant doesn't?)

When I brought it home, I took it out of its' pot, rinsed the root ball a few times with rain water, and left it on the ground in a flower bed overnight for the pill bugs and slugs to eat the dead bits out of the root ball. Probably an unorthodox idea, but I'm a fan of those in general, and have done this to many plants before with great results.

So, since it's a fern... it should make spores at some point?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 9:16AM
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I have an asplenium with very pale-silver fronds that's popping out spores on its underside on specialized structures sporadically.
Its current size is even smaller than the one you have but it's without a doubt another giant.
Yours may pop spores any day.

Some of these ferns do not grow large very fast but they can attain a spread of 2 meters slowly and steadily as succeeding fronds become comparatively larger. And when they're this large, spores are not a very rare sight.

(If you'd like to know, this fern can also be propagated by splitting individual plants into two. I've never done this so far.)

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 8:15AM
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You're not thinking what I think you're thinking....are you?

I mean...what would you do with a million little ferns? ;)

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 12:05AM
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....Well,..It's what I would do anyway.

Incurable compulsive propagator here.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 11:30AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Oh yes, I'd like to have at least 1 more of these, so Mom and I could both have one. And its always safer to have at least 2 of something/everything. This would be an awesome companion plant under Cordyline fruticosa or a taller individual palm. I can see it pairing well with Dracaena surculosa as well.

Also figured I'd probably panic that the spores were some type of pest, like most people do the first time a new fern does that. Just headin' it off at the pass... Of course I'd already googled, but wanted to hear personal anecdotes, like everybody does with a new plant, like "does it really do that in captivity?" ;)

If it makes spores, I'll put it near the plants I want it to invade.

It actually rained a little yesterday. I put this plant under a tree to catch some.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 12:15PM
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One way to get seedlings is to place some bricks or sandstone (not anything concrete) under them when they spore. Keep it fairly wet. You'll get prothalli which, after doing their thing, will produce ferns. Once they've grown a bit you can plant them out.

I've got 3 relatively small Birdsnest Ferns and a couple of tiny ones. Would love to have lots around the garden like I've seen in the rainforests. I've got lots of photos of them on rocks, up in trees, etc., and they look fantastic, but there's nothing like seeing them at home.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 7:32AM
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Always wanted to try this,..

Take a ten gallon aquarium and spray down the inside with water followed by a dusting of nearly powdered peat and re-moisten with a sprayer if necessary. Then take the fronds of your fern that are gravid and give them a shake(or a thump) over the open container. Next just seal the top with a sheet of glass,put it somewhere safe from direct sun,and just forget about it for a while.

Heck...I'm not sure it would even work! LOL

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 9:10AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

...googling prothalli... hey that's cool! I've seen that stuff in the woods and just thought it was some kind of lichen. This is fascinating! I'm so glad I brought this up, I had no idea ferns/spores worked this way. If this info applies to the particular one I have, it would not be possible to propagate them outside here, or anywhere with frosts, assuming such would be fatal.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 10:59AM
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The problem with doing this in an enclosure is that fungus and moulds can take over and destroy everything. You have to sterilise everything before hand (except of course the spores).

If you have the humidity then with good air circulation that's much less of a problem.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 11:39AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

No more space here to devote to indoor plant-anything but fun to imagine trying. At the 2nd link I put yesterday, it says it takes years. I was thinking if trying outside here, it would just be ruined by cold the first winter. If that's true, unless it happens to happen in its' own pot or another potted plant that gets brought inside for winter, this ain't gonna happen for me.

So now I'm wondering how old this plant might be...?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 12:10PM
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Good link for growing ferns from spore:

Some of them grow quite quickly. Years back I did some Platycerium superbum within the one season. These were done inside sterilised containers. It just takes a fair bit of attention to keeping it all moist.

Last year I put in a new automatic sprinkler line which watered the trunk of a palm tree near another palm holding a very large colony of Drynaria quercifolia. Later I noticed the green on the palm trunk and looking close realised it was prothalli. Now they're (not all of them) very small ferns, although not definitely identifiable as D. quercifolia yet. My water isn't really good for ferns so it would have been rain mainly that got them through.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 4:03AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

That's really very cool. The next time I'm in the woods, I'll have "new eyes" to look through. We've got some hiking planned later this month, in OH. Will see what temperate ferns and prothalli we can find. Thanks for the pic, those babies are so cute!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 9:13AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I promised some pics, hope you like these...

Fossils & moss in Horse Cave, KY:

Ferns & misc in Hodgenville, KY (Abraham Lincoln birthplace monument.) This is the spring where the family obtained water.

Ferns, moss, misc in Hocking Hills, Logan, OH:

Ferny ledges and edges, Hocking Hills:

Ferny falls, Hocking Hills:

Ferny forest path/steps, Hocking Hills:

And some updates on the Asplenium. AFAIK, it looks good.

The crown:

Didn't see the damaged leaves until I took the pics. Will remove those two today.

Thanks again for the advice and inputs!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 2:05PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

This plant has grown very fast this summer, IMHO. Some of the fronds are making sori. Glad I knew about them ahead of time. Kind of disturbing-looking anyway.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2013 at 6:15PM
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Purple..Ky is beautiful. Thanks for the photos.

I assume you took the shots? While there, didn't you feel like roaming the wooded areas? Outside of a trail, if one was available.

I enjoyed looking at each picture, but my favorite scenery photos are 5 and 6.
Pic 3 didn't open.

Your Asplenium is doing great...which window is it facing?
Sorry, I didn't read the posts..looked at your photos then responded.
Was your BNF outside?

Ironically, I tossed my Adplenium this morning before turning on the puter.
It was recently purchased at Jewel..while testing soil this morning I found MEALYBUG. Plant/pot and saucer were tossed..

Your BNF is doing great..Toni

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 12:33PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Oh that's a bummer, so sorry! This plant has been hanging in the back all summer, porch faces north back there. I just brought it in a few weeks ago when we had the frost scare here. That's an east window but this giant plant can't stay right there for long. Need to find a place 'on the ceiling' to hang it.

I seriously recommend 'cave country' in KY. We had a blast there! Some of the pics are from OH, and yes, we hiked around in there for about 5 hours. I recommend that too!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 2:27PM
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