How to grow sword ferns from spores?

Last Updated on 1 year by Namrata

Sword fern is an ornamental plant that can be grown indoors and outdoors. The leaves of this gardening plant have sword-like blades that give their name. Growing sword fern from spores is not easy compared to propagating from bulbs. A leaf of the fern is also called a frond, I may mention frond in some text which should not confuse you.

Sword ferns can be found in the wild. Now they have been planted world widely as ornamental plants. In the rainforests of South America, North-Western America gigantic sword ferns are found. The western sword fern species is also known as Polystichum munitum and the sword fern found in Australia is Nephrolepis cordifolia.

Both species can be grown in pots in warm environments.

How to grow sword ferns from spores

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How big do sword ferns get?

Western Sword ferns found in North America can grow 6 to 8 feet in the wild. Whereas the Australian sword fern reaches 6 feet.

Can you eat sword ferns?

Sword Ferns are edible, especially the young shoots. You can either cook or eat raw with salad. Pohole Salad is a tasty recipe you must try!

How long do sword ferns live?

The lifespan of an individual frond is about one and a half years. But, as new fronds grow out quite easily it hardly dies as long as the rhizome is alive.

Is sword fern toxic to dogs?

Sword fern is not toxic to pets. Your dog or cat may accidentally eat the sword fern, you need not worry as they will vomit it out. Ferns that can be toxic to pets are Asparagus fern, Lace fern, Sprengeri Fern, Plumosa Fern, Racemose asparagus, and Emerald feather.

Ferns are neither gymnosperm nor angiosperm. They do not bear seeds. Ferns can reproduce through spores and rhizomes.

Sword fern spores

Spores are tiny reproductive units in lower plants that are capable of giving rise to new plants. They form asexually without the fusion of gametes. They are very tiny and light that can be dispersed through air.

Spores are covered in a coat called sporangia. These spores were found grouped in bunches underside of the leaves.

The lifecycle of a fern is Sporophytes—–>Spores—–>Gametopytes—–> Fertilization——>Sporophytes and so on.

sword ferns spores

How to collect sword fern spores

The spores are collected from the sword fern when the leaves mature and bear spores underside of the leaves. Turn the underside of the leaves of the fern growing in your garden and you will find black, brown powdery things sticking to it.

Cut the mature fronds of the fern and put them in an envelope. Keep it for one or two days. The spores will fall in the envelope that you can use for sowing.

When to collect fern spores

Collect the spores from the sporophytes when the fronds are matured. You will find black, brown spores in bunches underside of the fronds.

Propagating sword ferns from spores

After you have collected the spores in the envelope. Now we need to prepare the medium to propagate these spores.

The best medium is a mixture of peat and vermiculite in a container with a lid. Pour the spores into the mixture and mist the mixture with a spray. You do not need to add too much water, just a few sprays.

Ferns love warm, humid environments to grow. Now closed the lid and keep the container in a warm place where no direct sunlight falls.

Watch this video to get more knowledge about the process of propagating fern spores.

After a few weeks, gametophytes will come out from these spores which are asexual. These gametophytes will grow and fuse sexually to form sporophytes. And the life cycle of fern continues.

Sword fern care indoors

sword fern care

How often do you water a sword fern?

Water every alternate day, and keep the soil moist. Ferns are water-loving plants. Do not let the soil dry out and do not let water clog too.

Can sword ferns take full sun?

Most ferns do love humid and shady places. Swords ferns too love shady places. Keep the sword fern pot under a shade or keep it out only for a few hours in the day. Direct sunlight can make the leaves dry.

How much light do sword ferns need?

If you are planting a sword fern in your garden, make a shade for it. Do not let direct sunlight fall. Growing sword fern outdoors is fine as long as you are not exposed to direct sunlight all day.

Common Diseases to look for in Sword Fern

Common diseases found are Bacteria Blight, Graying, Nematode, Leaf Tip Burn, and Root Rot.

In bacteria blight, you will see spots all over the leaves that turn brown and enlarge in size. You can avoid this by avoiding over-watering.

In graying of leaves examine the soil for moisture and roots of the fern for nematodes that may infect.

In nematode infection, leaves turn brown to black. Discard the infected ones.

When you over-fertilize the plants, the leaf tip may turn brown and die. So, do not let this happen.

Root rot is caused by fungal growth, avoid over-watering and use fungicides.

These simple care tips can help you to protect your sword fern from various diseases.


Growing a sword fern is not that hard if you know how to propagate ferns from spores. Spores are the micro units of new life. These spores will give life to new gametophytes and eventually to matured ferns(sporophytes) that you see. Ferns do like warm and humid places for growing. So, care is needed. It is pleasing to see these green plants grow in a garden.

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