Ferns





Ferns, although there are not many varieties of them available for

culture indoors, are probably more universally used as house plants than

any other class of plants. Their culture is not difficult, although it

differs somewhat from that given most of the plants described in the

preceding pages.



In the first place, ferns want a porous soil, say two parts screened

leaf-mould, one sand and one old manure or rich loam, the latter being

preferable. In the second place, they should be given a warmer

temperature, a minimum of fifty-five degrees at night being very

desirable, although not absolutely essential.



The third requisite in success with ferns is a moist atmosphere, as well

as plenty of water at the roots. If the pots are carefully drained

(facing page 41) as they should be, and the soil properly porous, it

will be almost impossible to over-water at the roots. Great care should

be taken, however, not to wet the foliage, particularly where the sun

can shine on the leaves. When the fronds must be wet, to keep them

clean, try to do it on a warm day, that they may dry off quickly near

an open north or east window. They should always be given as much light

as possible, without direct sunlight, and as much air as possible while

maintaining the proper temperature.



Many of the ferns can be increased either by runners or division, and

these are easily propagated at home. Those which are grown from spores

(the fern's seeds) it will be better to get from the florist's.



Most of the ferns belong to one of three groups, the sword ferns

(Nephrolepis), the maidenhairs (Adiantum) or the spider ferns

(Pteris). The distinguishing feature of the sword ferns is their long

pointed fronds; the maidenhairs command attention by their beautiful

feathery foliage, in some varieties as delicate as the filmiest lace;

and the spider ferns, seen usually in mixed varieties in dishes or fern

pans, are attractive for their shades of green, gray, white and silver,

and compact growth.





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