There are about 75 species of these attractive ferns. The best known is P. vuhjare, of which there are a number of cultivars. The common names are wall fern and common polypody, and this species and its cultivars are frequently used to provide decorative foliage for the outdoor garden. P. v. Pulcherrimum’ makes a useful plant for cold places in the home, and it can be grown either in pots or in wall containers and hanging-baskets. The fronds are very graceful and delicately structured, making a very distinctive plant.

It is an excellent plant for shady, chilly porches, corridors or entrance halls. Once potted, it is best left undisturbed as long as possible. It prefers a peaty but well-drained compost. Any good potting compost will do if some coarse grit or small pebbles and some charcoal granules are added.

Keep the roots, which are rhizome-like and creeping, moist at all times, but water more freely during the summer. The plants can be propagated easily by dividing the rhizomes in spring. P. aurewn, now more correctly known as Phlebodium aureum, is entirely different and. coming from tropical America, needs about 10 deg C (50 deg F) in winter. It also has creeping rhizomes and is sometimes called hare’s foot fern, because of the appearance of these. The fronds are deep green, with the veins delicately contrasting in cream or paler green, and their structure is much simpler. being more palm-like. They usually have a slightly glossy sheen and grow 90cm (3ft). It can be given a compost similar to P. vulgare. Troubles are rare.

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