The Holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum) is another very desirable house
plant and has been a favorite for years. It has very dark green
substantial glossy foliage, and stands up well. There is a new Holly
fern, however, which I think will replace C.
falcatum; it is C.
Rochfordianum; its foliage is not only a richer deeper green, but the
pinnae, or leaflets, are deeply cut and also wavy, and have given it the
popular name of the Crested Holly fern. Be sure to try it among the next
ferns you get.
Fern balls, which are usually composed of one of the Davallias,
sometimes prove unsatisfactory. Be sure in ordering to get them fresh
from some reliable mail order house, rather than take chances on them at
the florist's. The best way, however, is to get them already started. If
you get them in dormant condition, soak in tepid water and then give a
temperature as near sixty degrees at night as possible until they start.
While not strictly members of the fern family, the asparagus used for
decorative purposes under the name of Asparagus Ferns, are commonly
classed with them. Since their introduction they have proved very
Asparagus plumosus nanus, the Lace fern. No foliage is more beautiful
than the feathery light green sprays of this asparagus. Notwithstanding
its delicacy, it keeps wonderfully well when cut. The plants can be
grown as pot plants, or as vines. If wanted for the former purpose, keep
the sprays pinched back at twelve inches, and the roots rather
restricted. For vines, keep in large pots or boxes--always well
drained--and keep well fed.
Asparagus Sprengeri in both foliage and habit is very distinct from
A. plumosus. The leaves resemble small glossy pine needles, borne in
long sprays, and as it is trailing in habit it makes a unique and
beautiful plant for stands or baskets. The sprays keep well when cut,
and make an excellent background for flowers. It is now used more
universally for green by florists than any other plant.
Either of the above may be started from seed, or propagated by dividing
old plants, but small young plants may be had of the florists at a very
low price. They need about the same treatment as smilax (see page 94),
but will do well in a temperature of fifty to fifty-five degrees at
night. Shower frequently, but water only moderately.
For many years these two varieties have held the field to themselves,
but recently a new asparagus, of each type has put in an appearance.
Hatcheri resembles plumosus nanus, but is more compact in habit and
the leaves are much closer together on the stems. If it remains true to
type, and is as hardy as plumosus, it will replace it, for it
certainly is a more beautiful plant. A. S. variegata is a very pretty
"sport" with the leaves edged white.
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