HOW TO GROW AND CARE FOR OUR PLANTS
The genus belongs to that group of plants which are commonly called FERNS and includes numerous well-known species used to adorn our homes.
Clado: Ferns and related groups
Species: see the paragraph on "Main species"
Let's talk about that large group of plants that are commonly called ferns. They are plants devoid of flowers, fruits and seeds and belong to the great family of Polypodiaceae where we find about 170 genera and more than 7000 species divided into 14 subfamilies.
For many years they have been shrouded in mystery because it was not understood how they could multiply. Only in 1850 a German bookseller was able to unravel the mystery having noticed on the underside of the leaves, the spores, through which the plant multiplied.
There are numerous species among which we remember
Adiantum capillus venerisknown as
L'TO. capillus veneris, best known as maidenhair is one of the most attractive and popular plants, featuring delicate black stems that resemble a woman's hair.
It does not reach large sizes and is equipped with a rhizome.
For more information on the cultivation of the maidenhair go to the page dedicated to the maidenhair fern.
We now present a roundup of species that all have the same cultivation techniques.
They are plants that are distinguished from higher plants as they lack classical visible reproduction organs such as flowers and from lower plants (mosses, lichens, fungi, etc.) as the plant is a horn that is to say a plant well formed in all its parts with root, stem, leaves, pots, pith, etc. with the exception of the flowers that is the organs of reproduction.
Leaves with sporangia on the underside
The ferns to reproduce produce spores (hence the name of SPOROPHITE) evident on the underside of the leaves. The spores are found within SPORANGIUM which are none other than the capsules in which the SPORES. In turn, the sporangia are grouped in so-called formations SORI.
The spore, carried by the wind, falls into the ground and germinates. From its germination an independent plant is born that produces GAMETI said PROTALLO or GAMETOFITO. On the 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 oosphere which has just been fertilized (FERTILIZED EMBRYO) germinates remaining in the Archegonium (in this phase the embryo produces a sort of root called austorium which sinks into the tissues of the gametophyte to be able to nourish itself). From this embryo the plant we know will be born.
Plants should be placed in an area of the house where there is not much light. The dark green color of the leaves helps them to get the most out of any type of light and since they do not bloom, ferns do not need as much light as the flowering plants absorb. Furthermore, in nature they are undergrowth plants for which the shade is their ideal environment.
Ferns do not need special attention: once you understand their needs, cultivation is very simple. First of all, remember that the optimal average temperatures are around 18 ° C and must stay away from drafts. If you see that the fern grows well in the place where you have placed it, do not move it. It means that in that place he has found an ideal microclimate.
A recommendation that applies to ferns but which I recommend for all plants: NEVER use polishes for the leaves. These products in fact block the stomata of the leaf preventing it from carrying out its normal physiological functions. To clean the leaves, simply use a damp cloth.
The main problem for ferns is humidity. In fact, an environment that is too dry or too hot causes serious damage.
They generally have fairly thin fronds and therefore are unable to absorb much water. This fact makes them very sensitive to dehydration when they stay too long in a dry environment. To overcome this drawback it is essential to keep the environment around the fern humid with 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, making rot roots. 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.
In any case, the soil must always be moderately moist.
TYPE OF SOIL - REPOT
Generally they have a rapid growth therefore when it has reached an excessive size, it is repotted in March. The normally dry basic leaves are removed and placed in a slightly larger pot.
Put on the bottom of the vase a consistent layer of gravel and small stones that serve to facilitate the flow of water. The compost should consist of three parts of peat, 2 parts of coarse sand and a good dose of basic fertilizer.
Throughout the spring-summer season it is necessary to fertilize regularly, twice a month, with liquid fertilizers to be diluted in the irrigation water. In other periods they must be suspended.
It is advisable to use a fertilizer that in addition to having macroelements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) also has microelements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu) , zinc (Zn), boron (B), polybdenum (Mo), all important for a correct and balanced growth of the plant.
Ferns do not bloom.
We cannot talk about pruning: the leaves that gradually dry up must be 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 tufts or for propagation by spores, the latter not easy to realize.
MULTIPLICATION BY DIVISION OF THE PLANT
The division of the plant takes place in spring, approximately every three years. She takes the vase and turns it upside down, sliding it out of the vase.
At that point you grab the clod of soil in your hands and divide the plant into two or more parts, making sure that each portion has at least a couple of buds. The two parts are planted in single pots using a soil as indicated for adult plants and treated as such.
MULTIPLICATION BY SPORE
Spore multiplication is a difficult technique to implement in domestic conditions. In any case, if you want to try it, a procedure that can be tried in the home environment is explained below.
In spring, a fern leaf containing the spores is cut, scraped and dropped into a sheet.
A box is then prepared that contains moorland and peat in equal parts and the spores are arranged. Then water in moderation so as not to form pits or holes in the soil and put a glass plate or a transparent plastic sheet on top.
At this point the box is placed in the dark and at a temperature of about 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 about 2-3 months the first plants will be born and at this point it is necessary to move the box to a brighter position (but not too much) and remove the glass plate.
Once the seedlings have grown and developed, they must be transplanted 2-3 per pot which must have a diameter of no more than 6-7 cm and are treated like adult fern plants.
PARASITES AND DISEASES
Falling dry leaves
This symptom means that the plant does not have the right water balance. It is necessary to increase watering and humidity.
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, the watering and humidity in more correct way.
Leaves pale and discolored
If the leaves show this symptom, it means that the plant is too exposed to the sun.
Remedies: move it to a more suitable place.
If the leaves appear curled it means that the temperature is too low.
Remedies: move the plant to a warmer place.
Dark edged leaves that wither quite quickly
If this symptomatology occurs, it means that the environment where your plant is located is too hot.
Remedies: move the plant to a cooler place.
Leaves with dark spots
If this symptom is present, it is likely that the plant is undergoing a fungal attack, most of the time due to water imbalances, that is, to excessive stagnation of water in the saucer.
Remedies: remove the affected parts and use specific fungicide products.
Spots on the underside of the leaves
Spots on the underside of the leaves could mean that you are in the presence of the cochineal, and it could be both the brown cochineal and the mealy cochineal. Look at them with a magnifying glass, they are characteristic, you can't go wrong. Also if you try to scratch them off with a fingernail, they come off very 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 by rubbing with a sponge to remove the parasites, after which the plant should be rinsed to remove the soap. For larger plants planted outdoors, use specific pesticides.
The name of the genus Adiantum it means «that it does not get wet» in fact the droplets of water on the leaves slide off quickly.
They are plants that appeared on earth 350 million years ago.
Cesare Pavese (born in Santo Stefano Belbo in the Langhe in 1908 and died in Turin in 1950) in his books often speaks of the maidenhair as he often found her in the caves of the Langhe.
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