How to Propagate Ferns

Cool green fern growing in a shady garden.

Ferns are a simple, ancient plant. They reproduce by spore generation like mushrooms and fungi. As with many modern plants, the fern can also be propagated from cuttings. Gardeners take fern cuttings from the fern's rhizome, its underground horizontal stem.

Step 1 - Obtain a Fern Rhizome in Late Summer

Find a healthy clump of ferns, a shade plant, in a wooded area. Dig up a broad-diameter section of ferns and put in a large container holding about four inches of moist potting soil. Check the rhizome for a strong root network and place it in the soil. Transport the container quickly to where you want to plant the cutting.

Step 2 - Obtain and Plant the Cutting

Look for where fronds protrude from the rhizome--these are growth nodules. Cut a small section, bearing at least three growth nodules, off the rhizome. Plant the section in soil that has excellent drainage, about one inch below ground level. Cover it with soil, but do not pack it down on top, and water sparingly.