Propagating Ferns: Growing New Plants from Bulbils

Propagating Ferns: Growing New Plants from Bulbils

Are you looking to expand your fern collection? Propagating ferns from bulbils is a simple and rewarding way to grow new plants. In this article, we will explore the step-by-step process of how to propagate ferns from bulbils, as well as tips for successful growth. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner plant enthusiast, propagating ferns is a fun and enjoyable way to add more greenery to your indoor or outdoor space.

Introduction to Propagating Ferns

Propagating ferns is a great way to expand your indoor or outdoor plant collection. One method of propagating ferns is by using bulbils, which are small, bulb-like structures that develop on fern fronds. This article will discuss what bulbils are, the advantages of propagating ferns from bulbils, and the types of ferns that produce bulbils.

What are bulbils?

Bulbils are small, round structures that form on fern fronds. They are similar to bulbs in appearance and function as a means of reproducing new plants. Bulbils contain all the necessary nutrients and genetic material to grow into a new fern plant.

Advantages of propagating ferns from bulbils

Propagating ferns from bulbils is a simple and effective method of plant propagation. It allows you to create new fern plants without the need for seeds or specialized equipment. Bulbils also have a high success rate of germination, making them a reliable method for expanding your fern collection.

Types of ferns that produce bulbils

Several types of ferns produce bulbils as a means of reproduction. Some common ferns that produce bulbils include the mother fern (Asplenium bulbiferum), the hen and chicken fern (Asplenium viviparum), and the walking fern (Asplenium rhizophyllum). Each of these ferns produces bulbils in different sizes and shapes, but all can be used to propagate new fern plants.

Preparing to Propagate Ferns

Selecting a healthy parent plant

Before you begin the propagation process, it is important to choose a healthy parent plant. Look for a fern that is free from any diseases or pests, with vibrant green fronds and strong, sturdy roots.

Gathering necessary materials

To successfully propagate ferns, you will need a few essential materials. These include a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears, a clean pot with drainage holes, a well-draining potting mix, and a spray bottle for misting.

Choosing the right time to propagate

Ferns are best propagated during their active growing season, which is typically in the spring or early summer. This is when the parent plant is actively producing new growth, making it the ideal time to take cuttings or harvest bulbils for propagation.

Methods of Propagating Ferns

Division method

One common method of propagating ferns is through division. This involves separating a mature fern plant into smaller sections, each with its own roots. To do this, carefully dig up the fern plant and use a sharp knife to divide the plant into sections. Make sure each section has enough roots attached to support growth. Replant the divided sections in suitable soil and provide proper care to help them establish and grow.

Bulbil method

Another method of propagating ferns is through bulbils. Bulbils are small, bulb-like structures that form on the fronds of certain fern species. To propagate ferns using bulbils, simply detach the bulbils from the parent plant and plant them in soil. Keep the soil moist and provide indirect light to encourage growth. Over time, the bulbils will develop roots and grow into new fern plants.

Spore method

The spore method of propagating ferns involves collecting spores from mature fern plants and growing them into new plants. To do this, harvest mature spores from the undersides of fern fronds and sprinkle them onto moist soil. Keep the soil humid and provide indirect light to promote spore germination. With time and proper care, the spores will develop into young fern plants that can be transplanted into individual pots or outdoor gardens.

Caring for Newly Propagated Ferns

After successfully propagating ferns from bulbils, it is important to provide proper care to ensure their healthy growth.

Transplanting into individual pots

Once the new ferns have developed a strong root system, it is time to transplant them into individual pots. Choose pots with good drainage to prevent waterlogging, and use a well-draining potting mix suitable for ferns. Gently remove the young plants from the propagation tray and place them in their new pots, making sure to cover the roots with soil and gently patting it down.

Providing proper light and moisture

Ferns thrive in indirect or filtered light, so place your newly transplanted ferns in a location where they can receive adequate light without being exposed to direct sunlight. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, as ferns prefer slightly damp conditions. Mist the leaves regularly to provide additional humidity, especially if you live in a dry climate.

Monitoring for growth and health

Keep a close eye on your newly propagated ferns for any signs of stress or disease. Monitor the growth of new fronds and check for any discoloration or wilting. Adjust the watering schedule if needed and ensure the plants are not experiencing any extreme temperature fluctuations. Regularly inspect the leaves for pests and treat any infestations promptly to prevent damage to your new plants.

By following these care tips, you can help your newly propagated ferns thrive and grow into healthy, mature plants.


In conclusion, propagating ferns from bulbils is a rewarding and relatively simple process that can yield a bountiful supply of new plants. By following the steps outlined in this article, gardeners can successfully grow their fern collections and even share their plants with friends and family. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner looking to try your hand at propagation, experimenting with fern bulbils is a great way to expand your green thumb skills. With a little patience and care, you can enjoy the beauty of these unique plants in your own garden for years to come.