December 8, 2007

Repotting my Boston Fern

The origins of ferns can be traced back to about 360 million years ago, making them older than the dinosaurs.  In fact, ferns thrived on earth more than twice as long as the first flowering plants.  These ancient plants have a very primitive method of reproduction.  They reproduce not by seed but by microscopic spores, which are formed on the lower side of the leafy branch of the fern, called a frond.  When these spores are released, given the right moisture and soil conditions, they’ll eventually grow into a mature fern.  But ferns can also sprout from the spreading rhizomes, or roots, of existing plants, a much faster method of reproduction.

Although most of the several thousand fern species are found only in the wet tropics, many varieties of fern are well suited to the temperate zones.  Most of these types thrive in moist, woodsy soil, and are happiest growing in dappled light, a combination of shade and sun.  This makes them perfect for woodland gardens, or massed as a ground cover in a corner of your yard, or even planted in containers.  Just be sure to keep them lightly mulched and moist, and your ferns should grow beautifully for many years to come.

Things in the greenhouse have gotten busy now that all the potted plants have been moved indoors for the winter.  Here is a Boston fern that has been living in this lovely faux bois pot for quite some time.  It graced my patio all summer.  Jodi felt it was time to divide and repot and from the look of these photos, her decision was a good and necessary one, as the fern’s roots were extremely pot bound.

Here is the pot bound fern

Jodi trimming back the fronds

Pointing out new growth

Loosening around edges of pot with a long garden knife

Look at all those roots!

Cutting through roots with knife, making one fern into three

Metro Mix potting soil, acquired from Griffin Greenhouse & Nursery

One fern, back into the same pot, filling in with Metro Mix

Giving the fern a good soaking!