Polypodium aurem, the Rabbit’s Foot Fern is native from Florida to Argentina. It has a thick creeping rhizome covered with golden-brown scales. The furry appearance of these rhizomes give the plant its common name, that it shares with a number of other fern species.
Culture: Polypodium aureum rhizomes send up young fronds which look like a bishop’s crook before they open out. The fronds can reach a height of 3-4 feet with a 2 foot spread. They are feathery, broad, smooth and have a bluish cast. There is a row of yellow or orange spore clusters on each side of the central vein. Rabbit’s Foot Ferns grow quite vigorously. They thrive in the temperature range 65 to 75 degrees. The soil should be porous and allow free water passage. Soil should consist of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 1 part sand or perlite. Water evenly throughout the year, less frequently in winter. Never allow the soil to dry out. Fertilize every other week in the growth period with a balanced fertilizer. Repot every other year or as needed. Humidity is essential for growing ferns. If your surroundings are not humid, mist the plant several times per day.
Propagation: Polypodium aureum is relatively easy to grow from spores. The ripe spores can be collected on a piece of paper placed under spore bearing fronds. Sow spores on damp peat moss in late winter. They germinate best at a temperature of 68-70 degrees. The growing medium should be kept constantly moist and covered with glass or plastic. Once new plants are large enough to handle they can be transplanted into individual containers. The root can be divided at the end of the rest period, Feb.-March. Do this carefully with a sharp knife and keep a healthy rhizome section with each division.
Polypodium aureum was featured as Plant of the Week July 9-15, 1999.
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Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.