Friday, January 7, 2011

Houseplants - Bear's Paw Fern


Hello, my name is Susan Mulvihill and I am a fern-killer. It's not easy to admit this because of my reputaton as an avid gardener and a Master Gardener, but it's the truth.

Over the years, I've tried to grow Boston ferns, asparagus ferns, rabbit's foot ferns - you name it - but I either over-water or under-water them and the next thing you know, the dead plant is heading out to the compost pile. Sigh...

A few years ago, however, I was determined to grow a fern in our dining room and came across this beauty. It is the Bear's Paw fern (Polypodium diversifolium) and as you can see, it has taught me how to grow it successfully.

I love the glossy dark-green leaves and the fuzzy "feet" with dark-brown hairs. It is easy to grow (obviously, since I still have it!) and prefers a fair amount of light which is perfect for our fairly bright dining room. The plants like moist but not sopping wet soil, are relatively pest-free and do best in temperature ranges of 60 to 80 degrees F. Here in Spokane, our fern is subjected to temperatures ranging from about 50 to 85 degrees but is none the worse for wear.

When I was trying to look up information on this fern, the naming of these ferns can be quite confusing. In addition to being called a Bear's Paw fern, it is also known as a Kangaroo Paw fern. It can also be listed under Phymatosorus diversifolius or Polypodium scolopendrium.

Just remember the name "Bear's Paw fern" and you should be able to find it. I didn't even need to go to a specialty nursery as I found it at either Home Depot or Fred Meyer. It makes an awesome houseplant.

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