Propagating Ferns: How to Grow New Plants from Basal Shoots

Propagating Ferns: How to Grow New Plants from Basal Shoots

If you’re looking to expand your fern collection or simply want to learn a new gardening technique, propagating ferns from basal shoots is a great way to do so. This method allows you to grow new plants from existing ones, giving you an endless supply of beautiful ferns for your home or garden. In this article, we will walk you through the steps of propagating ferns and provide tips for successful plant growth. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, this guide will help you achieve lush, thriving ferns in no time.

Understanding Fern Propagation

Fern propagation is the process of growing new fern plants from existing ones. One common method of fern propagation is through basal shoots, which are small plantlets that grow at the base of the mother plant.

What are Basal Shoots?

Basal shoots, also known as plantlets or offshoots, are small growths that develop at the base of a parent plant. These shoots are essentially clones of the parent plant and can be easily removed and grown into new fern plants.

Why Propagate Ferns from Basal Shoots?

There are several reasons why propagating ferns from basal shoots is a popular method among gardeners and plant enthusiasts. Firstly, basal shoots are genetically identical to the parent plant, ensuring that the new plants will have the same desirable characteristics. Additionally, propagating ferns from basal shoots is a simple and cost-effective way to expand your fern collection without having to purchase new plants. Lastly, propagating ferns from basal shoots can help rejuvenate older ferns that may be struggling or have become leggy. Overall, propagating ferns from basal shoots is a rewarding and practical way to grow new plants and maintain a healthy fern garden.

Methods of Propagating Ferns

Ferns can be propagated through various methods that include division, spores, and tissue culture. Each method has its own advantages and challenges, so it’s important to choose the right one based on your specific needs and resources.


Division is a common method of propagating ferns and involves separating a mature plant into smaller sections, each with its own roots and fronds. This can be done by carefully cutting the rhizome with a sharp knife or by gently pulling apart the plant into smaller clumps. Dividing ferns is best done in the spring when the plant is actively growing and can quickly recover from being divided.


Another method of propagating ferns is by using spores, which are tiny reproductive structures found on the underside of fern fronds. To propagate ferns from spores, you’ll need to collect the spores and sow them on a suitable growing medium, such as a mixture of peat moss and sand. Keep the medium moist and warm to encourage germination, and within a few weeks, you should start to see tiny fern gametophytes emerging.

Tissue Culture

Tissue culture is a more advanced method of propagating ferns that involves growing new plants from small pieces of tissue, such as a leaf or a section of a frond. This method requires specialized equipment and expertise, but it can be a useful way to produce large quantities of fern plants quickly and efficiently. Tissue culture is often used by commercial growers to propagate rare or endangered fern species.

In conclusion, there are several methods of propagating ferns, each with its own unique advantages and challenges. Whether you choose to divide existing plants, grow ferns from spores, or use tissue culture techniques, the key is to provide the right conditions and care to help your new fern plants thrive.

Step-by-Step Guide to Propagating Ferns from Basal Shoots

Selecting the Parent Plant

When choosing a parent plant for propagating ferns from basal shoots, it’s important to select a healthy and mature fern with a good number of basal shoots. Look for a plant that is free from disease and pests, as this will increase the chances of successful propagation.

Preparing the Plant for Propagation

Before propagating the basal shoots, it’s essential to prepare the parent plant. Start by watering the fern well a day before propagation to ensure it is adequately hydrated. Then, carefully remove the basal shoots from the parent plant using a sharp and clean pair of scissors or pruning shears.

Propagating the Basal Shoots

To propagate the basal shoots, prepare a pot with well-draining potting mix and make a hole in the center. Gently place the basal shoot in the hole and cover it with soil, ensuring the shoot is secure and upright. Water the newly planted basal shoot thoroughly and place it in a warm and humid environment, such as a greenhouse or under a plastic dome, to encourage root growth.

By following these steps, you can successfully propagate ferns from basal shoots and grow new plants to enjoy in your garden.