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House Plant Index


Flowers None
Potting or re-potting time March
Position in garden during summer Rather deep shade
Potting Mixture 4 with a little charcoal

There are more than 6ooo species of ferns, yet only a few are suitable for house culture. Many of them will grow for a week or a month in the average house, then show signs of acute distress.

The Boston fern, Nephrolepis exaltata bostoniensis, is one of the best long-lived house ferns. It has several varieties, which are more decorative, but not quite as easy of culture whitmani, for example, and smithi, the lace fern. The Brazilian maidenhair fern, Adiantum cuneatum, is difficult unless a very moist atmosphere can be provided, yet an equally graceful species, Davallia fijiensis plumosa, is not as exacting in its requirements and will grow lustily in the window garden. Asplenium nidus, the birdsnest fern, has green fronds with wavy edges and is a lovely plant, but it, too, is happy only in a moist atmosphere. Liquid fertilizer should be used regularly with this fern. Crested Pteris ferns, such as P. cretica and P. serrulata are splendid for terrariums and dish gardens. Holly ferns, forms of Cyrtomium falcatum, are perhaps -the most amenable to house culture, next to the Boston fern. They are obtainable in both crested and plain varieties.

Hardy ferns from neighboring woodlands do not make good houseplants, as they shed their leaves during the winter, which is the normal resting season.

Ferns, as a whole, like lots of light but no direct sun. They require ample watering, yet are quick to sicken in the presence of standing water, so provide plenty of drainage. Foliage should be sprayed daily except during the dormant season, when twice a week is enough. Soap added to the spray every two weeks would usually prevent the formation of scale. Again excluding the dormant season, give ferns a tumbler of manure water every two weeks.

Re-pot ferns at least once a year, and oftener if you suspect that the roots are pot-bound.

Fern fronds are fragile and tender things. Crowding or brushing against objects or other plants will bruise and cause them to turn brown at the tips. Give them plenty of elbowroom. All of the ferns welcome a summer in the garden where a shady spot should shelter them from boisterous winds and violent summer showers.