Growing An Heirloom

by | Sep 18, 2018 | 6 comments

Grandma’s fern in 2012

I introduced you to my great grandma’s fern here. I have been nurturing this fern since 1985 when I was married. I recently inherited mom’s fern she received in 1957, as mom felt she wasn’t able to care for it anymore. If you read my previous post, you know my mom recently moved from her home of 55 years and it was sold. I think when she gave me her fern that she had nurtured for over 60 years, she knew that the time was coming when she wouldn’t be in her home anymore. I worry that I don’t have a back up if something happens to mine as I now have the original. My oldest daughter, newly married, received one at her bridal shower this summer so she also has one. I guess we both have a back up if something happens to ours.

My daughter’s wedding shower and the heirloom fern

Mom moved to my brother and sister-in-law’s home and my sister-in-law asked me a few  weeks ago if I had a smaller fern I could give her to hang up in mom’s room. How sweet that she thought of that, as mom has always had the fern in her care, and she knows it may comfort her to have another one. I told her I would start a new one for her from her original large plant. I have always wanted to try starting one from the runners or stolons (a long slender stem capable of producing a new plant at its tip or along its length) that emerge from the fern. I had heard or read somewhere that you could start new plants from the runners/stolons by pinning them to a pot of moist potting medium. I thought I would like to try it. Below is a picture of mom’s fern on August 7th with no babies on the stolons.

Mom’s fern on August 7th with no babies showing on the stolons

When I went upstairs to water the fern later that week, imagine my surprise when I saw these small ferns already growing on the runners. I couldn’t believe it! I grew up around mom’s fern all my life and have had mine for 33 years and have never seen this happen. Starting them would be easier than I thought. If your fern has a lot of runners, they can be “ratty” or unkempt looking and it won’t hurt the plant to cut them off. If you keep them though, you may end up with some new ferns.

All the babies coming from the parent plant the second week of September

I love the stand the fern is on. This is my mom’s original plant stand made for her by her dad, my grandpa, Ray Baldwin, from a porch post. Her fern has been on it as long as I can remember. I never met my grandpa unfortunately, but am glad I have something he made for her with love, I’m sure.

Babies everywhere

The little plants are growing along the length of the stolon and I decided to pin a couple of these small plants to a pot of moist potting medium, leaving them attached to the mother plant.

Trying to grow on its own

Swinging from the plant

Baby fern growing on mom’s fern

Still attached to mom

I put a stand next to the parent fern, placed a small pot of moist potting medium on it, and pinned 2 small plants to the medium, using a simple paper clip cut in half. While the stolon and plants are attached nutrients are coming from the mother plant. When roots have started growing into the potting medium, I will cut the stolon away from the parent plant and they will grow on their own.

Just a paper clip

Attached to mom for rooting

New plants pinned and rooting

I’m so happy I can grow more of these for family so we can all have a piece of my great grandma’s fern, and I tried a type of propagation I never had. I’ll keep you updated on the progress and hopefully soon, mom will have a new, smaller plant for her room which will bring back good memories.

Do you have an heirloom plant that belonged to a special family member or friend? Tell me about them in the comments.

Feel free to pin this if you want to remember how to propagate your fern.

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  1. Angela

    That’s amazing, I think your grandpa sent mom an amazing surprise:)
    Congrats to the beautiful couple!!
    Sadly I don’t have a heirloom plant but am trying to start my own.
    I’ve tried boston ferns …no luck:(
    Thanks for sharing!


      Thanks Angela. The reason this fern does well in the house is because it has always been in the house. I don’t take my plants outside for the summer, so it doesn’t ever have to acclimate to a new situation. I think that makes a huge difference.Thanks for your comments!

  2. Lynn Krawczyk

    I absolutely adore this. What a special plant to have and to share!

      • Kathryn Bennett

        CommentI have bird’s-nest sansevieria that my mother grew around our house for as long as I can remember. I’ll be 70 next month so that’s a long time! They are very easy to propagate so I’ve shared them with many family members and friends. I’m happy to know that you also have a sentimental attachment to a family plant. I really enjoy your articles, thank you!

        • Lisa Steinkopf

          Thanks so much! Aren’t sentimental plants the best?!


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