How to Grow Ferns From Spores

Ferns are an appealing choice for indoor and outdoor gardening due to their distinctive appearance and air-purifying capabilities. Unlike many plants, ferns reproduce from spores rather than seeds.

In this blog post, we will discuss how you can propagate ferns from spores.

Also, Read: How to Grow Ferns from Cuttings [Tips & Tricks]

Understanding Ferns and Their Spores

Ferns belong to the plant group Pteridophytes and unlike flowering plants, they reproduce via spores. These spores, located on the underside of the fronds, when mature, are released into the environment where they can grow into new ferns. With patience and the right conditions, you can grow your own ferns from spores.

Gathering Supplies to Grow Ferns From Spores

Before starting, ensure you have the following materials:

  • Fern spores
  • Sterilized compost or potting soil
  • A shallow container
  • Plastic wrap or a clear plastic bag
  • Spray bottle

Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Ferns from Spores

Follow the instructions below to grow ferns from spores:

1. Collecting Spores

To collect spores from an existing fern, choose a mature frond with sporangia (clusters that hold the spores) that are dark brown or black. This color change signifies the maturity and readiness of the spores.

Cut the frond and place it spore-side down on a piece of paper. After a few days, the spores will have fallen onto the paper. Alternatively, you can buy fern spores from a reputable supplier.

2. Preparing the Growing Medium

Start with a shallow container like a nursery flat or seed tray, which you’ve sterilized to prevent any bacterial or fungal growth.

Fill this container with a layer of sterilized compost or a specific fern growing medium, which you can find in most garden centers. The growing medium should be moist but not waterlogged.

3. Sowing the Spores

Sprinkle the collected spores lightly and evenly across the surface of the compost. The spores are tiny, so it might be hard to see where they land. It’s important not to cover the spores with soil as they need light to germinate.

4. Creating a Humid Environment

Fern spores need a humid environment to grow. Cover your container with a clear plastic wrap or place it in a clear plastic bag. This creates a mini greenhouse, providing the necessary humidity for your spores.

5. Finding the Right Spot

Ferns generally prefer warm temperatures and bright, indirect light. Place your container in such a location, but keep it out of direct sunlight as it can dry out the compost or even kill the delicate spores.

6. Monitoring the Spores

Check on your spores regularly. The compost should remain consistently moist, so lightly mist it with water if it’s drying out. Be patient, as germination can take several weeks to months, depending on the species.

7. Identifying Germination

Germination is successful when you start seeing small green growths. These are called prothalli, the gametophyte stage of ferns, which eventually produce the fern plant.

8. Transplanting the Ferns

Once the prothalli produce small fern plants and these have developed several leaves, they can be carefully transplanted into individual pots. This process can take many months.

During this process, maintain a high level of humidity around the young fern plants, keep them in indirect light, and water them as needed to keep the soil consistently moist.

This in-depth guide provides additional details on each step of the propagation process, from spore collection to successful transplantation. However, remember that each fern species is different, and specific needs may vary. Always do additional research on the specific type of fern you are planning to propagate.

How to Grow Ferns From Spores


Growing ferns from spores is a fascinating process that offers a unique insight into the life cycle of these ancient plants. While it might be a slower method of propagation compared to growing from cuttings, the joy of watching the tiny green prothalli emerge from spores and eventually transform into beautiful fern plants is an experience unlike any other in the world of gardening.

It’s important to remember that this process requires patience, precision, and a commitment to providing the right conditions over an extended period.

This includes maintaining the right temperature, humidity, and light conditions. Although it might seem challenging initially, following the detailed step-by-step guide outlined above can significantly increase your success rate.

Additionally, you may like some more gardening articles:

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I know when the spores are ready to harvest?

Fern spores are typically ready to harvest when they turn a dark brown or black color. They will be located in clusters, often called sporangia, on the underside of the fronds.

2. Why are my fern spores not germinating?

Spore germination can be a slow process, and it requires specific conditions. Ensure that the temperature, light, and humidity levels are suitable for your specific fern species. Also, it’s crucial that the growing medium and container are sterile to prevent fungus growth.

3. What should I do if mold appears in my spore container?

If mold appears, it’s often due to overwatering or lack of ventilation. Unfortunately, it might be best to start over with fresh, sterile compost and ensure the container has good airflow.

4. Can all ferns be propagated from spores?

Yes, all fern species can reproduce from spores. However, the specific conditions required for germination might vary depending on the species.

5. How long does it take for ferns to grow from spores?

Ferns can take a considerable amount of time to grow from spores. It may take several weeks or even months for the spores to germinate, and several more months before the plants are large enough to handle and transplant.