FERNS

Approximately 10,000 species of fern are known, and therefore no attempt is here made to deal with their needs and habits in more than general terms. For potting use John Innes Compost, plus extra peat to give a more spongy mixture which ferns definitely appreciate. So long as they have adequate moisture there is no need to plant in shade. They do not like being disturbed at the roots; therefore with pot ferns repotting should be done very carefully, the roots being kept in a ball of earth while the rest of the soil is renewed. Room ferns need ventilation without draughts, and watchful watering by tapping the pots for sound; once a week is enough in winter; in summer use judgment and include a syringing or sponging of the foliage with tepid water. Ferns in hanging baskets should be lined with moss to retain the compost. Propagation of ferns varies; a number are increased by spores which show in the underside of the leaves, the leaves being detached and pressed only slighdy, spores downward, into the surface of fine soil, and when the new growth starts, potting off singly. Maidenhair or adiantum are propagated by root division in spring as are the various forms of Asplenium or spleenroot.

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