Description: Polypodium is a genus of 75–100 species of true ferns, widely distributed throughout the world, with the highest species diversity in the tropics. The name is derived from Ancient Greek poly (πολύ) "many" + podion (πόδιον) "little foot", on account of the foot-like appearance of the rhizome and its branches. They are commonly called polypody or rockcap fern, but for many species unique vernacular names exist.The species differ in size and general appearance and in the character of the fronds.Polypodies have some use in herbalism, but are today most important in horticulture where several species, hybrids, and their cultivars like Polypodium 'Green Wave' are commonly used as ornamental plants for shady locations. Polypodium have a bitter-sweet taste and are among the rather few ferns that are used in cooking; in this case as a spice e.g. for nougat.
These ferns like a well-drained soil but seem indifferent to pH. They grow best in dappled shade and sheltered from cold winds. The dust-like spores change colour from orange to brown when ripe, and fall from the fronds if you lay them on white paper. Sow on to moist sphagnum peat at a temperature of 15-18C.
Growing and caring for Polypodiums
There is a large family of Polypodium ferns with a wide variety of form and shape. Many
Polypodiums are easy to grow and are ideal for pot or basket culture; some grow well in
the ground. Some of the Gonophlebium species with their long weeping fronds are very
prized and make spectacular displays.
Cultivation In nature Polypodiums occupy a great range of habitats – from dry regions to
tropical rainforests. They can be epiphytes (growing on hosts) or lithophytes (growing on
rocks) or terrestrial (growing in the ground).
In cultivation Polypodiums generally grow well in shadehouses under 70% shadecloth in
pots and baskets; some can grow successfully on tree fern logs; some do well in the
ground in a shaded protected area. They require filtered light. Many are hardy and are
cold tolerant but the tropical species need protection from direct sunlight and winter
Potting Mix Polypodiums in pots and baskets need an open coarse mixture of 50% good
quality potting mix and 50% orchid mix with added materials such as cow manure,
peatmoss, charcoal or perlite to help drainage and aeration around the roots.
Watering Polypodiums like plenty of water during the active growing period, spring to
summer. In winter when growth slows down or ceases, they are best kept on the drier
Fertilisation Polypodiums in post/baskets respond to slow release fertilizers and manures
added to the mix; occasional liquid fertilizers such as seaweed extracts or fish emulsions
at half strength are helpful. For polypodiums on the ground, blood and bone or animal
manures or liquid fertilizers can be beneficial in the growing season.
- Product Code: fern-polypodium-fern
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