Pellaea - Fern - Polipodiaceae - How to care for and cultivate your Pellaea


ThePellaea they are found spontaneous all over the world and are particularly decorative especially if they are raised in suspended baskets.






: Ferns and related groups











: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The genre Pellaea belongs to that group of plants which are commonly calledFERNS which includes plants devoid of flowers, fruits and seeds and belong to the great family of Polypodiaceae we must find 193/223 genera and 7500 species.

These are deciduous perennial ferns (which lose their leaves) or evergreen, native to the semi-desert areas of South Africa and South America. They are also found in Canada, Australia and the United States.

They are plants with a rhizome from which the plucked or bipinnate frondate directly sprout. Sori (see below) form around the edges of the leaves.

For many years these plants have been shrouded in mystery as it was not clear how they could multiply. It was only in 1850 that a German bookseller revealed the mystery: he had observed on the underside of the leaves, the spores, through which the plant multiplied.

They are not difficult to grow plants if their needs are respected.


There are about 80 species among which we recall the most widespread:


There Pellaea rotundifolia it is an evergreen fern with beautiful fronds, even 30 cm long, which curve downwards and which arise directly from the rhizomes. Each frond is formed by 10-20 leaves with a rounded shape when young and oval when adult. They are deep green in color and arranged alternately with slightly toothed margins.

It is a plant that prefers moist and acid soils.This fern has a prostrate habit that becomes almost erect with maturity.


There Pellaea viridis it has an appearance reminiscent of a more traditional fern, with fronds up to 45 cm long, of a very dark green color, with black and brilliant petioles.

There are numerous varieties among which we remember: theMacrophylla which according to some is a species in its own right and precisely the


characterized by very long fronds, even 60 cm and with more thinned leaves.


TherePellaea atropurpurea it is an evergreen fern with 6-20 cm long, slightly leathery fronds, which bear small leaves of a fairly intense green color and blue-purplish petioles.

Other species are:





In general, Pteridophytes are distinguished from higher plants (Phanerogams) as they do not have classical visible reproduction organs such as flowers and from lower plants (mosses, lichens, fungi, etc.) as the plant is a horn that is, a plant formed in all its parts and therefore provided with root, stem, leaves, pots, pith, etc. except the organs of reproduction that is the flowers.

Leaves with sporangia on the underside

The FERNS they reproduce via spores (hence the name of SPOROPHITE) clearly visible on the underside of the leaves. The spores are found within SPORANGIUM which are the capsules in which the SPORESIn turn, the sporangia are grouped in so-called formations SORI.

The spore is carried by the wind and falls into the ground and germinates. From its germination an independent plant is born that produces GAMETI said PROTALLO or GAMETOFITO. On this prothalus the sexual organs are formed, ANTERIDS(male) e ARCHEGONI (female) where the ANTEROZOI and the OOSPHERE mature respectively. The male anterozoan moves in the plant thanks to the water (rain, dew, etc.) and goes to fertilize the newly fertilized oospherache (FERTILIZED EMBRYO) germinates immediately remaining in the Archegonium (in this phase the embryo produces a sort of root called austorium that sinks into the tissues of the gametophyte to be able to nourish). From this embryo the fern plant we know will be born.


Plants of the genus Pellaea they do not require special care: once you understand their needs, cultivation is very simple. It should be borne in mind that these are plants that do not enter vegetative rest so during the winter the cultivation treatments must only be slowed down, not suspended.

First of all, remember that the optimal average temperatures are around 18 ° C and if they rise above 21 ° C it is necessary to ensure excellent ambient humidity. The rule applies to them: the higher the temperature, the higher the humidity.

They have to stay away from drafts. If you see that the fern grows well where you have placed it, do not move it.

They must be placed in a very bright area of ​​the house, unlike many other ferns, but obviously not in direct sun which would burn the leaves.

A recommendation that applies to all plants and in particular to ferns: NEVER use polishes for the leaves. In fact, these products block the plant's stomas, preventing it from carrying out its normal physiological functions.To clean the leaves, simply use a damp cloth or take a shower in the bathtub if you don't have a garden.


The main problem for this plant, common to all ferns, is humidity, in fact an environment that is too dry or too hot causes serious damage to the plant.

To maintain an always humid environment, it is necessary to doPellaea constant nebulizations, at least twice a day during the hot season. This slows down the loss of water from the fronds.

Another system is to place the pot on a saucer full of pebbles and then fill it with water, making sure that the bottom of the pot is not immersed in water as in this way the soil of the pot would become saturated with water, causing the roots to rot. . This system allows, when it is hot, to evaporate the water in the saucer which consequently moistens the surrounding air.It is advisable to remember to fill the saucer whenever the water has evaporated.

As for watering, they must be done so that the soil is always humid, both in summer and in winter. Therefore, be careful not to let the soil dry out and not to let the water stagnate in the saucer as water stagnation is in no way welcome.


The Pellaea they must be checked every year, in March, to verify if repotting is necessary or not. The plant is gently extracted from the pot to check the roots: if they have occupied all the space available to them, the pot must be replaced with a slightly larger one.

Take care to arrange pebbles or gravel on the bottom of the pot which will favor the rapid draining of excess irrigation water.

The soil must consist of three parts of peat and 2 parts of coarse sand.

If you want to raise this plant in a suspended basket, you need to line the walls of the container with sphagnum to which the earth will then adhere well.


During the whole spring-summer season it is necessary to carry out regular fertilizations, every two weeks using a liquid fertilizer to be diluted in the irrigation water.

Use a fertilizer that in addition to having the so-called "macroelements" such as Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) also has "microelements" such as Magnesium (Mg), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn ), Copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn), Boron (B), Molybdenum (Mo), all important for a correct and balanced growth of the plant.

Slightly reduce the doses compared to what is indicated in the package (they are always a bit exaggerated).


The Pellaea they do not bloom.


For these ferns we cannot speak of pruning: the leaves that gradually dry up are simply eliminated to prevent them from becoming a vehicle for parasitic diseases.

Make sure that the tool you use for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably with a flame) to avoid infecting the tissues.


Multiplication can occur in two ways: by division of the plant or for propagation by spores, the latter not easy to achieve.


The division of the plant is carried out in late spring (May) and only if the plant has become too big. You take the pot and turn it upside down by sliding it out of the pot, at which point you grab the clod of soil in your hands and divide the plant into two or more parts, cutting, if necessary, the fleshy rhizomes. Each portion must have at least one frond and roots.

The cut parts are planted in single pots using a compound as indicated for adult plants and treated as such.


The multiplication of the Pellaeausing spores is a difficult technique to implement at home. In any case, if you want to try, we explain how to do it.

In spring, a fern leaf containing the spores is cut and scraped off by dropping them on a sheet of paper, or by dropping them on a sheet of paper, then preparing a box containing moorland and peat in parts. equal and settle the spores, then water sparingly so as not to form pits or holes in the soil and place it on a glass plate or a sheet of transparent plastic.

Then place the box in the dark and at a temperature around 20-23 ° C, taking care to keep the soil always moist. The glass plate or the plastic sheet is opened every day in order to eliminate the condensation that forms.After a few months (2-3 months) the first plants begin to grow and at this point it is necessary to move the box to a position brighter (but not too much) and remove the Once the seedlings have grown and developed, they must be transplanted in groups of 2-3 in a pot with a diameter of no more than 6-7 cm.

If you can make it, I would be grateful if you would send me the photos to publish. I would be grateful if you would send me the photos to be published.


Leaves that dry up and fall off

If this symptom occurs it means that the pellaea does not have the right water balance: both irrigation and environmental humidity are scarce.
Remedies: as a first step it is advisable to immerse the pot in a bucket of water so that the earth gets soaked, then it drips well and then puts it back in its place, adjusting, for the future, watering and environmental humidity in a more balanced way.

The leaves become light and discolored

If this symptom occurs it means that the plant is too exposed to the sun.
Remedies: move it to a more suitable place.

The leaves curl

This symptom occurs when the ambient temperature is too low.
Remedies: move the plant to a warmer place.

The leaves have dark margins and wither fairly quickly

This symptom means that the environment your fern is in is too hot.
Remedies: move the plant to a cooler place.

Leaves with dark spots

This symptom is a clear indication of a fungal attack, most often due to water imbalances, that is to say to an excessive stagnation of water in the saucer.
Remedies: remove damaged fronds immediately and treat with broad spectrum fungicides.

Brown spots on the underside of the leaves

Brown spots on the underside of leaves could mean that you are in the presence of mealybug, brown mealybug or mealybug. To be sure, it is recommended to use a magnifying glass and observe them. Compare them with the photo below. They are features, you can't go wrong. Also if you try to remove them with a fingernail, they come off easily.

Remedies: remove them with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol or if the plant is large and potted, you can wash it with water and neutral soap rubbing very gently with a sponge to remove the parasites, after which the plant must be rinsed very well to eliminate all soap. For larger plants planted outdoors, you can use specific pesticides available from a good nurseryman.

Video: Houseplant Fern Care Guide! . Garden Answer

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