How to grow sword ferns from spores

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 its name. Growing sword fern from spores is not easy compared to propagating from bulbs. A leaf of the fern is also called frond, I may mention frond in some text which should not confuse you.

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

Both species can be grown in pots in warm environment.

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, specially the young shoots. You can either cook or eat raw with salad. Pohole Salad is an tasty recipe you must try!

How long do sword ferns live?

The lifespan of individual frond is about one and a half year. But, as new fronds grows 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 accidentally may 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, 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 capable of giving rise to the 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 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 stick to it.

Cut the mature fronds of the fern and put it in a envelop. Keep for one or two day. The spores will fall in the envelop 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 envelop. 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 in the mixture and mist the mixture with a spray. You need to to add too much water, just a few spray.

Ferns love warm, humid environment to grow. Now closed the lid and keep the container in a warm place where no direct sun light 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, keep the soil moist. Ferns are water-loving plants. Do not let the soil to dry out and do not let water to clog too.

Can sword ferns take full sun?

Most ferns do love humid and shady place. Swords ferns too loves shady place. Keep the sword fern pot under a shade or keep it out only for few hours in the day. Direct sunlight can make the leaves to 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 to fall. Growing sword fern outdoor is fine as long as you are not exposing to direct sunlight all day.

Common Diseases to look for in Sword Fern

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

In bacteria blight you will spots all over the leaves that turn brown and enlarges 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 to 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 the mirco 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 place for growing. So, care is needed. It is pleasing to see these green plants to grow in a garden.

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