Ferns are the most complex of the non-flowering plants, having true leaves, stems and roots, but no flowers or seeds. Instead they reproduce by means of spores. Although ferns do not go back all the way to the origins of life on land, they do have a very long prehistory.
They have long been admired for their fine foliage, delicate shades of green and from the way they mark the seasons, from the first unfurling fronds of spring. They make ideal garden plants and the Hardy Plant Society’s new booklet ‘Ferns’ by Neil Timm explores the many ways in which they can be used in settings ranging from the more formal small back garden to the naturalistic landscape. The booklet gives details of how to grow ferns, from planting to maintenance and propagation and includes a directory of ferns for different garden conditions. The booklet is available to order online.
Growing ferns from spores can be an interesting project and Neil gives details of how to increase your collection in this way. Some ferns, however, produce bulbils from the fronds which provide an easy and quick way to propagate small numbers of ferns. We have produced a video in which Sally Gregson shows this method of propagating Polystichum which you can see here: https://youtu.be/bUaGxB3EBFQ.