Lygodium japonicum, or Climbing Fern, is native from Japan, to the Himalayas, to Northern Australia. It has twining, threadlike stems with pinnate papery fronds. The plants will reach about 8 feet (2.5 m) in height with the fronds reaching about 4-8 inches (10-20 cm) in length. The sterile pinnae consist of lobed segments called pinnules. The fertile pinnae are narrow and 3 times divided. They make an attractive basket plant and are hardy in USDA zone 8. WARNING: This has been reported as an invasive plant by USDA and is known to overgrow existing vegetation in the SE US, particularly Florida and Georgia, so don't plant it where you can't control it!
Culture: Lygodium japonicum need light shade to heavy shade with a moist well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 1 part sand or perlite. The soil should be kept moist at all times. If they are allowed to dry out, the top of the plant dies back to the perennial roots. During the growing season, the plants are fertilized on a weekly basis with a balanced fertilizer. During the winter months, we water just enough to keep the foliage from browning. Repotting should be done in the spring before new growth begins.
Propagation: Lygodium japonicum are propagated by division or by spores. The ripe spores can be collected on a piece of paper placed under spore-bearing leaves. Sow spores on equal parts of peat moss and sand, with ground limestone added in late winter. The spores germinate best at a temperature of 68-70°F (20-21°C). 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.
Lygodium japonicum was featured as Plant of the Week March 21-27, 2003.
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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.