Microsorum pustulatum
Kangaroo Fern

Polypodiaceae

Microsorum pustulatum

Microsorum pustulatum, or Kangaroo Fern, is an epiphytic fern native to Australia and New Zealand. The glossy, bright, green fronds vary in shape and size. Fronds may be simple fronds tapering gradually at the base, acuminate at the apex to 9 inches (22.5 cm) long and 5/8 inch (1.5 cm) wide, to deeply pinnatifid to 1 feet (37.5 cm) long and up to 6 inches (15 cm) wide. They spread by fragmentation of the conspicuous bright green and brown hairy rhizomes. These are quite attractive and easy to grow.

Culture: Microsorum pustulatum do best in partial shade to high interior lighting, with a well-drained potting mix. In the greenhouse, we use a mixture of 1 part course sand to 1 part pine bark to 1 part peat moss with a little horticultural charcoal added. To this mix, bone meal is added at a rate of 1 tbs to each 3 parts of mixture. The pH should be checked and amended with lime to adjust the pH to 6.0 to 6.5. The plants are kept moist during the growing season and fertilized on a monthly basis. Even though they can withstand short period of drought, it is best to never let they dry completely. During the winter months, water should be somewhat restricted and plants should be kept about 50-60F (10-15 C). One should never allow them to dry out for very long. Repotting is not necessary unless the potting mixture begins to break down.

Propagation: Microsorum pustulatum is easily 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 damp peat moss and coarse sand mix in late winter. They germinate best at a temperature of 68-70F degrees (20-21C). 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 rhizome can be divided at the end of the rest period (February-March). Do this carefully with a sharp knife and keep a healthy rhizome section with each division.

Microsorum pustulatum was featured as Plant of the Week July 9-15, 2004.

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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 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.