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Question: 503-1211
What is the best environment for indoor ferns? Pauline, New Martinsville, WV

Mort's Answer:
Ferns prefer filtered light and moist conditions. If you have a bathroom or kitchen that has an east or west window, this would be excellent. Spritzing with a windex bottle of water every day will bring good results. Ferns have a tendency to become root bound, especially, if in their favorite soil medium-peat. High peat soils dry to a rock, if left underwatered for a long time. I prefer to add ground stone or coarse sand to 3 equal parts of peat to provide aeration to the soil. Asparagus ferns and many others can be split before repotting. When they are doing well ferns require a lot of repottting into 2 inch larger pots unless  you are splitting them. Higher nitrogen fertilizers are best and they do respond to light liquid applications. If you get brown tips, you are over fertilizing. They are not heavy feeders of fertilizer and should not be left in a root bound pot too long at your peril

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Question: 1053-2416
I have some attractive winter ferns that die back in the spring. They are in the rock crevices and in the trees. I would like to transplant some or acquire more. A friend wants to cut out some from tree crotches. They look similar to Boston ferns but more like the licorice fern. Judy, St. Helens, OR

Mort's Answer:
There is a natural hybrid between Polypodium glycyrrhiza , the licorice fern, and P. californium that has some characteristics of the Boston type ferns. Polypodium calirhiza has been naturalized in Oregon and northern California. You could try layering some leaf cuttings in sand. Your friend can carefully cut out the ferns with some bark attached. Be sure to repair the extraction with tree seal. You might plant them alongside a rock. I can see you are between a rock and a hard place. This might require a few attempts in the early fall.

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