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What is a Mother Fern?

By Misty Amber Brighton
Updated May 16, 2024
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A mother fern is a leafy, green type of fern that produces new plantlets on its leaves. These tiny plants fall off the mother and begin growing on their own. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as a hen and chick fern.

This plant is believed to have originated in New Zealand or Australia. It is now grown as a houseplant throughout the world, but is not generally grown outdoors. The fern normally does best when kept in a windowsill that is exposed to the north or east. It can thrive in full sun or partial shade. It should also have soil that is consistently moist, but not wet.

The leaves of a mother fern usually have a very feathery appearance. They may sometimes resemble the tops of carrots. Most of the time, they are light to medium green in color. They are normally around 12 inches (30.48 cm) long when fully mature.

A mature plant grow to anywhere from two to three feet (.61 to .91 m) in height. They may spread up to two feet (.61 m) in width. If placed in a flowerpot, a plant might need to be transplanted after a few months so it can continue to grow. It is a perennial, which means it normally lives for several years.

One of the unique characteristics of this plant is the fact that it reproduces on its own. A mother fern develops tiny plantlets on the top of her leaves in the spring or summer each year. When these new plants are present, it sometimes appears to be fluffier than usual, until these new ferns are shed.

These tiny buds eventually fall off the leaves, and can then be covered with soil in order to produce new hen and chick plants. Another way of propagating these ferns might be to pick them off the mother's leaves after they develop their own roots, and then plant them in a flowerpot. A grower can also pin the leaf of the mother fern to the ground until the baby plants fall off on their own.

Growing this plant can be a fun and educational experience for both adults and children. It requires a great deal of care, so growers should be prepared to spend a good deal of time caring for a mother fern. Those who do so can enjoy fluffy, green foliage for many years to come.

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