Worm fern plants - location, care and propagation

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The name worm fern may not sound very exotic and evokes associations that have little to do with this great plant. Despite all this, the fern with its evergreen leaf fronds offers a great splash of color in the garden and in the great outdoors.
From a botanical point of view, worm fern is one of the warm ferns, about 150 of which are known to us. Especially in the northern parts of the world, as in Europe, in many parts of Asia or in North America, the fern is very common. It grows in forests on open spaces or on slopes and of course in gardens. The worm fern can reach up to one meter in height, which makes it a pleasant sight protection, for example, around the pond or against unsightly walls or fences. The leaves, which have a double or a simple plumage, reminiscent of a palm frond and provide for an exotic flair around the plant. Many gardeners love the worm fern because it is very robust and has few requirements for its location. Others love it because of its size and the ability to beautify larger green spaces with little effort.
The site
Since the worm fern in our home gardens feels particularly comfortable, you should look for it from the beginning to a suitable location. He particularly likes to grow in shady or partially shaded places, where he is not bothered by the direct sun all day long. The worm fern may therefore be placed on walls, house walls or under trees.

Fronds of the worm fern

In addition, the worm fern can be used very well for greening larger areas due to its expansive shape. Especially those places that can only be cultivated to a limited extent and are therefore referred to by the skilled person as "dead spots" are an ideal location for the worm fern. And if there are already tall perennials in the garden, planting the worm fern next to the perennials could create a great contrast.
But not only the location is important. The soil conditions must be right. Since the worm fern is very undemanding, a dry to fresh soil is sufficient. He should never be too wet. In addition, the floor should be quite light and easy. Many ferns grow in the forest and benefit from the light forest soil. A heavy clay soil is therefore unsuitable and should be enriched with sand before planting the worm fern.
Good permeability of the soil can also be achieved through the addition of compost, bark mulch or lighter soil. The pH of the soil, however, plays a minor role. Whether the soil is slightly acidic or not does not really bother the worm fern.
Tip: If the worm fern, despite its undemanding nature have problems with the site, it can be implemented easily. However, it should be checked in advance, why there are the problems. Maybe it is not the location that bothers him, but rather a disease or pest that has infested him.

Dryopteris filix-mas

Ideal locations:
  • under trees, where previously flowering plants had settled, which now offer an excellent location for worm ferns
  • ideal humus soil can be produced for example by means of bark mulch or bark culture substrate as well as own natural compost
  • The soil is loosened as deeply as possible and then heaped up with the substrate at a height of at least 5 centimeters
  • then the substrate is carefully incorporated.
The worm fern with its frugal nature requires little care. Despite all this, the lifetime can be significantly extended by a few rules. So the soil should be enriched now and again with horn shavings or bone meal. These can be scattered right around the plant, ensuring that the salinity in the soil is always at an acceptable level.
If the worm fern is in the growth phase, the irrigation water can be enriched with milk once a week. The milk contains many nutrients that help the worm fern to grow.
Tip: It is completely sufficient if a spoonful of cow's milk is added to the irrigation water.
In spring, all withered and withered fronds on the plants should be removed. The fern can give its power more in the healthy fronds and shoots and the plant grows better. In addition, the fern may also be deliberately cut back. This, however, before the first renewal, so that the new shoots are not immediately cut off again. The pruning should also be done only on the plants that are not wintergreen. Wintergreen species only need to be freed from old and withered fronds.

Real worm fern

For the winter, no special protective measures have to be taken around the worm fern. He survives our winter without any problems and can survive even large temperature differences without much attention. If the winter is particularly hard and long, however, it may happen that the plant needs a little more time in the spring, until it expels fresh again.
The multiplication
The multiplication of worm fern can be done in different ways. So offer the
  • Division of older plants
  • the multiplication over spores as well
  • the propagation through the breeding of cuttings

at. For the division of the worm fern, the spring offers itself. For this to succeed, the worm fern must be dug up. The roots should be free of earth so that they can be pulled apart by hand and without pressure. Each part must have at least one own frond. After division, the worm fern should be replanted as soon as possible. In order to guarantee a rapid growth, should be poured regularly in the first days.
When propagating with the help of the spores, they must be collected on the lower side of the fronds from July to September. These are laid out at the point where the new fern should grow and sprayed with a little water. The rest is taken over by nature.
Tip: So that the wind does not carry away the spores, a small vessel should be placed over the affected area in the first few days. The vessel must, however, be translucent so that the spores can rise.
If the propagation takes place via cuttings, they simply have to be separated from the worm fern. These are then plugged into a flowerpot with moist soil. De rooting takes about 5 weeks. If enough roots are present, the small cuttings can be planted in the garden. Again, must be watered regularly in the early days.

young worm fern

frequently asked Questions

Is the worm fern hardy?
Yes. The worm fern easily survives our winter without having to move or cover it in winter quarters.
Does the worm fern have to be fertilized?
In principle, it is sufficient if every now and then some compost or bark mulch is given around the worm fern. In addition, a small shot of milk can be added to the irrigation water. And anyone who wants to can spread bone meal or horn shavings around the plant, which regulate the salinity of the soil.
Which variant of the propagation is the simplest?
The easiest way to share the worm fern. He has to be dug up for that. But he grows up quickly and will be back in full glory within a few days.
The different types of propagation of worm ferns
Within their original environment, worm ferns multiply by means of spores. In a garden, these plants are propagated during the spring or autumn by a division of the rootstock. It is also possible to collect the spores and use them within pots. Since worm ferns are poisonous, they are by no means suitable for gardens in which small children or pets stay temporarily or permanently. Otherwise, worm ferns are extremely valuable wild shrubs that do good to nature in general.
Care tips soon
  • The fern needs a shady to partially shaded location and a nutrient-rich, not too wet soil. The soil can be slightly acidic, neither lean nor nutritious.
  • Worm fern only needs to be watered during prolonged drought. When fertilizing care must be taken that not too much fertilizer is used. Ferns do not like too many salts in the soil.
  • The worm fern is absolutely hardy. He does not need winter protection. He also tolerates large temperature differences and different humidity.
  • Forest ferns need a mulch to survive in the fall, so do not rake off the foliage around the ferns!
  • The worm fern contains the enzyme thiaminase, filicin and aspidine. It can lead to poisoning and thereby nausea, vomiting, stomach and intestinal complaints with diarrhea, blurred vision, fainting, heart failure and damage to breathing.
  • Previously, the plant was used as a remedy for worms, hence its name.

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