For greenhouse or house decoration, or for supplying florists with "green," ferns, and Adiantums in particular, are very useful. While many species are easiest propagated by the division of the plants, others are commonly grown from spores, which should be sown at once, although the spores from some species can be kept for some time.
They should be sown either in pans or pots, or on beds, using garden loam, over which half an inch of fine sphagnum should be placed. Moisten this thoroughly and scatter the spores evenly over it, and after sprinkling cover with glass. Water only when they show they are dry. Keep covered until the seedlings have started. It will be best to prick out the young seedlings into flats, from which they should later be transferred to pots.
Pot them in soil one-half leaf mold and the reminder of loam and sand. For propagating on a large scale, a box covered with a glass sash, of suitable size, will answer. The seed bed can be prepared upon the bench itself. Ferns for dwellings should be grown at 55 to 60 degrees, as they will then be firm and well hardened, and will thrive far better than soft, spindling plants, in the dry atmosphere of the living room. For small fern pans, two or three plants will be enough. Fern pans can be filled to advantage by using some erect growing kind in the center, with fine Adiantums, Selaginellas or similar types, around it.
Many varieties are readily increased by dividing the crowns. To increase them quickly, they should be bedded out where they can be kept well moistened at a temperature of 60 to 65 degrees. In dividing and transferring to pots, it is hard desirably to make a very fine division, as, although more plants can be obtained, they will be slower in starting and less satisfactory. During the spring and early summer, the young plants should be kept in a cool house or in a frame, where they can be properly shaded and watered.
If to be used for cutting, the best results can be obtained if the plants are bedded out. This should be done early in August, in order that the plants may have time to develop and harden off. The beds should contain from four to five inches of compost, consisting of two parts pasture sods and one part each of sand and rotten manure. For most ferns a temperature of 60 to 65 degrees is desirable, and the stove ferns are beneficial if it is slightly higher, although some of the greenhouse species do well if it is significantly lower.
For the florist's use, in addition to the well-known Adiantum cuneatum and gracilimum, such others as A. eleyans, A. Capillus-Voneris, A. continuum and A. c. latum, A. St. Catherina and A. decorum will be useful. Adiantum Farleyense is among the best of the Adiantums for decorative purposes, but except for very elaborate cut-flower work, it will be less useful than some of the more delicate sections. The Pteris serrulata and P. s. cristata, and other forms that are readily grown, are also desirable for planting out, either on or under the benches, while Pteris tremula, and its variegated form, P. aryyrea, and P. cretica alba lineate should not be neglected.
When ferns are shifted, or planted out, they should be shadowed from the blight sun for several days, and the foliage should be frequently syringed. If to be used for cutting, after they have made their growth, the shading should be taken off, and abundant ventilation should be given, in order that the fronds may harden off, and then stand up longer when used. The florist will find specimen plants, and baskets and pans of ferns useful in decorating his house, as well as for outside work. If well grown and of well selected types, the visitor will be attracted to them, and they will have a ready sale.
Source by Liza Othman