Polypodium - indoor fern with a difficult character
Ferns are one of the rapidly growing categories of indoor plants. Their luxurious leaves with unique ornaments and soothing mysterious shades of green look so elegant that it is difficult to resist the beauty of ferns, even if there is no suitable place for them. Along with unpretentious ferns are becoming more common and rare, original species. And among them, a bizarre epiphytic polypodium with unusual leaves and even more remarkable colors. His character is so complicated that it can be recommended only to experienced gardeners.
One of the rarest ferns - polypodium
Polypodiums, or Millipedes - ancient ferns from the family of the same name Millipede (Polypodiaceae) Their name, like appearance, has not changed for millennia. Polypodiums are often confused with Phlebodiums, and changing the classification with the transfer of individual species from one genus to another does not simplify the situation.
But polypodiums remain rarer, less extravagant and very special in nature rare ferns that deserve a special status and approach.
In Europe, millipede ferns are often called the sweet root. But still, translated analogues of the botanical name are much more popular. In nature, millipedes prefer to settle in the southern hemisphere. Some species are found in Australia with New Zealand, and in southern India, and in South America. This forest plant, most often, selects dense forests and jungles with high humidity and quite secluded lighting, it grows on shrubs and trees.
The structure of this fern is often compared with water lilies, emphasizing how atypical a representative of the class of fern polypodium actually is. But it is more appropriate to call the original culture, and not look for analogies with aquatic plants.
Polypodiums are characterized by special rhizomes - creeping, scaly, horizontal rhizomes with sufficiently thick accessory roots. Rhizomes of polypodiums differ in size and nature of the rhizome. In some polypodiums, the roots are thin, in others they are thicker and fleshy, but they are easily recognizable by the horizontal arrangement and characteristic scales on the surface. Polypodiums do not form a stem; leaf petioles remain very important organs for them.
All polypodiums grow quickly enough, actively growing in room conditions and releasing several new leaves annually. They develop in the horizontal plane, gradually spreading, which should be taken into account when choosing a place, and when searching for a container or method of cultivation. This is one of the fastest growing species of ferns for growing in rooms and greenhouses, able to achieve maximum decorativeness by the third year of cultivation.
From the upper part of the rhizomes, in rows, on rather long, jointed petioles, large waii of leaves develop. The maximum height of the leaves of the polypodium is about 100 cm, although most species are limited to much more modest sizes up to 50 cm in height, and indoor plants are most often compact epiphytes up to 40 cm high.
Cirrus-separated or cirrus-dissected, they are distinguished by their dense texture, asymmetrical shape of the lobes and most often free veins. The segments are lanceolate or almost linguistic, unevenly wavy, most often with a solid edge and a rounded tip. The leaves of polypodiums unfold very beautifully, from a peculiar shell-like shape, they stretch into a dense spiral, and then straighten their lobes.
In some polypodiums, the leaves are green, rather dark or brighter, in others they are covered with a bluish bloom or uneven barely visible spots, with thinner or wider, curved or almost straight lobes. The variety of colors in the greenhouse and room culture is particularly pronounced.
Sorts of polypodiums are formed quite actively and almost along the entire reverse surface of the leaves. They are located closer to the edge of the leaf plate, between the veins, large and rounded, not covered by a bract.
Types of indoor polypodiums
In nature, you can find more than a hundred species of millipedes. Several species are found even in our forests. But the indoor assortment of polypodium fern is much more modest and is represented mainly by several epiphytes.
Polypodiums - plants are diverse, but not always easily distinguishable from each other. Many species are so similar to each other that it is almost impossible to distinguish them without long experience working with representatives of this genus.
It’s easier to navigate the assortment of indoor polypodiums by plaque on leaves and rhizomes, these are two signs by which species are usually “recognized” when buying anonymous plants.
Polypodiums are often sold in groups of several different species in one pot, but usually such neighbors should be similar to each other in terms of growing and grooming requirements.
Determining the type of polypodium that came to your house is not always simple and not very important: polypodiums almost do not differ in unpretentiousness and character, requirements for air humidity and even substrate. But, of course, it is always better to know exactly which plant you are buying and get all the necessary information about it before buying.
The business card of millipedes has an eloquent name millipede fern, or Polypodium millipede (Polypodium polypodioides) This is a beautiful epiphytic fern with palmate-complex, bright green, arcuately curving vayas with blunt-lanceolate lobes.
Polypodium Scooter (Polypodium scouleri) Is one of the most beautiful species for ampelous culture. It develops in the form of bunches of leaves, it surprises with wide ways with multidirectional curvature of segments, bright glossy color. The fern seems bizarre and unusual, blushes in too bright a light.
Polypodium cambric, or southern (Polypodium cambricum) - a large view with half-meter leaves of an ideal triangular shape with serrate, neatly linear lobes.
The most decorative and unpretentious among indoor polypodiums is rightly considered polypodium virgin (Polypodium virginianum) - medium-sized, narrow-leaved and fast-growing fern. With a leaf length of 10 to 30 cm, the width of its vey does not exceed 6 cm. Smooth, thin, strikingly long (up to 15 cm) petioles emphasize the feathery structure of the leaves with small denticles along the edge of the lingual lobes.
Some of the most popular early polypodiums are polypodium golden (Polypodium aureum) and polypodium pimple (Polypodium pustulatum) - have long been transferred to other genera of ferns, including the genus Phimatosorus and Phlebodiums.
Growing conditions for indoor polypodiums
These ferns are found in indoor conditions so rarely, mainly due to myths about their extreme moodiness. Demanding polypodiums, indeed, may be unpleasantly surprising, but they are capricious only if these requirements do not satisfy.
Lighting, placement, temperature - everything is important for this fern. Partially deviations from ideal conditions can be compensated by leaving. But their capabilities in providing polypodiums with an ideal place for them are best evaluated before planting these ferns.
Lighting and placement
Polypodiums are used to secluded lighting. It is difficult to find plants more sensitive to direct sunlight than these ferns. In living rooms for polypodium, it is better to select diffused lighting, but still bright enough places.
In the greenhouse, the polypodium is also content with partial shade, adapts well to not strong shadows, but does not respond well to short daylight hours. Throughout the year, he needs at least 8 hours of light daily. In winter, plants are moved to more illuminated places or a backlight is installed to compensate for the natural reduction in lighting. Regardless of the time of year, polypodiums require the same, stable lighting.
For polypodiums, the eastern and northern window sills are considered ideal. With the distance from the window, you can freely experiment in rooms whose windows are oriented to the south. When choosing a place in the interior or near the window, you should carefully monitor the fern, and in case of signs of lack of light leaves (transparency, discoloration of the leaves, stunting), move it closer to the light source.
Temperature and ventilation
Polypodiums are tropical thermophilic ferns. They feel great in non-hot, but quite warm rooms. The absolute minimum that this epiphyte can withstand is 14 degrees, such a decrease is permissible only in winter and for a short period. During active growth, in spring and summer, polypodiums feel best at a stable temperature of about 20 degrees, in the worst case, from 21 to 25 degrees.
Sudden changes in temperature are best avoided, because they usually cause a halt or a slowdown in growth. Air temperature from 24 degrees requires an increase in humidity.
At rest, polypodiums prefer slightly lower temperatures. The optimal content mode is from 18 to 20 degrees. Heat during dormancy can lead to a loss of decorativeness of greenery or even a drop of some leaves, but polypodium does not require coolness. First of all, it is necessary to protect plant roots from hypothermia by limiting the effect of cold surfaces on containers or a block with a polypodium.
Polypodiums do not like the neighborhood with heating batteries and air conditioning devices, they can not stand sharp drafts.
Care for polypodiums at home
The moisture-loving nature of polypodiums greatly complicates their cultivation. In a suitable place, they are surprisingly picky, and in the greenhouse or terrarium - perhaps the easiest to grow species. But in living rooms, polypodiums require attention, frequent water procedures, and constant checking of their condition.
Watering and humidity
Without exception, all polypodiums are quite capricious epiphytes, extremely sensitive to waterlogging of the soil. Growing on blocks allows you to partially solve the problem of the risk of stagnation of water, but in the substrate, it is necessary to monitor more carefully how the soil dries between irrigation.
Polypodiums prefer mild, but frequent watering after drying of the upper layer of the substrate. When grown on blocks, the base must always remain slightly moist. The estimated frequency of water procedures is 1 time per week in the summer and 1 time per 1.5 weeks in the winter.
Polypodiums need to be irrigated with soft, settled and not cold water. The plant is sensitive to excess lime and chlorine. When watering polypodiums, it is important to ensure that water does not fall on top of the rhizome and does not come in contact with scales.
Polypodiums belong to hygrophilous epiphytes and normally develop only with high humidity. The optimal regime for them can be created in terrariums and wet florariums, flower showcases and tropical greenhouses. In indoor conditions, they require additional measures that do not give indicators of importance to fall below 60% with the desired value of 80%. If the air temperature exceeds 20 degrees, the humidity should be raised accordingly.
When buying species and varieties with wax leaves, it should be borne in mind that such ferns do not tolerate wet leaves, especially ordinary spraying, in which brown spots most often appear over the places where drops fall.
It is possible to increase air humidity for polypodiums only with the help of humidifiers - special devices or installed plates and pallets that compensate for dry air. For glossy polypodiums, spraying is acceptable, but it is better to clarify this information when buying.
Polypodiums with a wax coating and uneven color do not like contact with leaves. It is undesirable to touch or wipe greens, since a unique coating on the leaves is unstable and erases with the lightest touch. Glossy leaves can be wiped and even washed with leaves.
Fertilizing and fertilizer composition
The rapid growth of polypodiums requires constant replenishment of nutrients in the soil, but the fern is very sensitive to excess fertilizer. These ferns are fed every two weeks during the period of active growth, but the dosage indicated by the manufacturer is reduced four times for the first year after transplantation and two times - for subsequent years before changing the substrate.
These ferns simply adore organic fertilizers, but they also respond very well to complex preparations. For polypodiums, long-acting fertilizers cannot be used.
Polypodium trimming and shaping
This fern does not like pruning. The leaves dry out and fall off themselves, leaving beautiful traces on the rhizome. It is better to carefully cut off damaged or loose decorative leaves, leaving the whole petiole and several segments, and remove only after they dry.
Planting, containers and substrate
Like many indoor epiphytic plants, polypodium does not prefer regular transplant procedures, but transplants on demand. Plants are transferred to new blocks or to new containers when they have nowhere else to develop - when filling the entire volume of the container or exceeding the dimensions of the base of the block.
The main sign of a transplant need is to stop or slow growth in the spring. For a polypodium, transplantation is preferred in late spring or early summer, when growth rates can be estimated.
Polypodiums can be grown on blocks or as potted epiphytes. They are especially good on snags and stumps, in complex imitations. The method of attachment to the unit is standard, with sphagnum cover.
If a polypodium is grown as a pot plant, low and wide containers are chosen for it, with a large space for horizontal development, but no risk of waterlogging of the soil at the bottom of the pot. Drainage holes for this fern are required.
For the polypodium, one should carefully select not only the proportions, but also the materials of the pots. Powerful rhizomes of polypodium often break plastic during an untimely transplant, deform the vessel, therefore heavy natural materials — stone, artificial stone or ceramics — are preferred for this fern.
For polypodiums, when growing on blocks, only neutral or slightly acidic substrates with a very light texture are suitable. For it, special substrates for epiphytes, orchids (with a complex composition) are selected or additional portions of crushed bark and sphagnum are added to the soil for ferns.
With independent mixing of the soil in equal parts, connect the leafy soil, bark or sphagnum with peat and sand. An additional charcoal supplement reduces the risk of root decay.
Before landing polypodiums in the tank at the bottom lay a large drainage.Plants are transplanted carefully, examining the roots and trying not to injure the tufts of subordinate roots. The fern is set so that the horizontal roots lie on the substrate, and are not completely buried in it. Similar to planting the roots of irises in the garden, they are slightly pressed into the soil or laid on it, sprinkling on the sides and leaving the neck open.
The soil around the fern should not be too compacted: if it shrinks over time, it is better to additionally mulch its surface. Mulch can be laid as an upper drainage and immediately after planting, using a thin protective layer of bark or sphagnum.
Diseases, pests and problems in the cultivation of polypodiums
Polypodiums are one of the favorites of scale insects. To cope with these insects is very difficult, because ferns do not like washing. Sometimes, even with a mild degree of damage, long months of persistent treatment with insecticides that affect the attractiveness of plants, or more drastic measures with replacement by young healthy plants, are required.
But of the other pests, polypodiums are only threatened by spider mites, and even then only in extreme conditions.
Of the diseases, polypodiums are only threatened by various types of rot.
This fern clearly signals a deviation from ideal growing conditions by its condition and growth rate. Yellowing of the leaves and their drying indicates dry air, too much shading or over-moistening of the substrate.
Polypodium leaves become almost transparent in bright sun and lose their color in a depleted substrate. Any growth retardation indicates soil problems or insufficient base or pot size.
Polypodiums are propagated both from spores and vegetatively. The most popular way is to split the bushes. During transplantation, the mother plant can be divided by cutting into small segments a rhizome with an obligatory bunch of roots and 2 to 4 leaves in each dividend.
When cutting, it is important to monitor the cleanliness of the tool, not to leave uneven edges and process the slices with powdered coal. Delenki is planted as well as adult polypodiums, but until the signs of growth appear, it is desirable to keep them in greenhouse conditions - under a hood, in soft but bright lighting and warmth, protecting from drafts, humidity drops and temperature spikes.
Leaf layers in polypodiums are rooted in the same way as shoots in any other plant: a strong healthy leaf is slightly cut at the rooting site along the vein, fixed in the soil and sprinkled at the place of contact with the soil substrate. With constant maintenance of soil moisture, rooting takes place at the point of incision of the petiole. It is not worth rushing to separate the polypodium layers, the plants are cut off from the mother only when they form a fairly powerful bunch of roots.
Reproduction of polypodium from spores at home is very rare. Despite the fact that sporangia are formed on this fern in a very large number, the germination rate of independently collected spores most often does not exceed 10%.
Sheets with brown spores are first dried in the dark and dry, and the fallen spores are sown immediately in a greenhouse or hotbed with lower heating. Sowing is carried out on the thinnest peat layer moistened to a marshy state with distilled water. Spores are plated superficially, covering with a film or glass. Maintaining a constant high humidity of peat and protection from light are the main conditions for the germination of spores.
Polypodium shoots are very sensitive to dry air and substrate, they continue to be kept under the hood until they grow to 2–3 cm. Dive is carried out only when the plants grow to 5 cm.
When propagating by vegetative methods, the fern reaches its maximum size by the third year, and when grown from seeds, the polypodium forms the maximum size of bushes and leaves already in the fourth year.