How do you take care of an epiphytic Microgramma fern? Your first thought may be WHAT IS an epiphytic Microgramma fern?  I am a fern collector/fanatic and the first I saw one was in 2019 at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle. I bought the one below from Andy’s Orchids while there. 

microgramma fern

Microgramma sp. (The fern leaf on the right is not the same fern, but a volunteer from the other ferns living nearby.)

Epiphytic New World Ferns

These creeping ferns are usually epiphytes (growing on other plants, but not parasitically), native to southern Florida, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. There are a couple of ferns in this group that are native to Africa and Madagascar. Microgrammas send out long rhizomes and creep along throwing out fronds as they go. The ferns below are ones I recently purchased at the Michigan African Violet Society show and sale in April. (No, they are not related to gesneriads.) It is a Microgramma heterophylla and from what I’ve researched I think the leaves will get larger because these are tiny leaves as you can see in one of the pictures below with my finger next to the plant. Timber Press’s book Fern Grower’s Manual by Hoshizaki and Moran is amazing!

Microgramma fern

Look at that cool rhizome!

Not Your Usual Fern 

These may not resemble ferns to you other than the creeping rhizomes which remind me of the rabbit’s foot and kangaroo ferns. (Find out more about “footed ferns” here. ) The leaves or fronds certainly do not resemble a “normal” fern with their simple leaves. Of course, neither do bird’s nest ferns (Asplenium nidus) nor many other ferns. I had to look twice when I saw them, and as they were ferns, they immediately went into the box of African violets and streptocarpus I was purchasing. Because they creep along on rhizomes and usually climb, their common names include clinging snake fern and climbing vine fern. I think the snake moniker also could come from the leaves that have a netted vein pattern perhaps reminding one of snakeskin. 

Microgramm veins

The netted veins are so cool

 

Correct Identification?

This plant below was labeled Microgramma lycopodioides, but with more research, I feel it could be M. vacciniifolia. If you have any ideas, please, let me know. Whatever it is, I think it is an amazing plant and am happy to have it. It is residing in a large glass vessel at this point until I can decide whether to mount it or make a terrarium to house all of my microgrammas. 

Fern rhizome

Care for These Ferns

So far, I can only give you information about the one I have from Andy’s Orchids. These plants need to be kept moist, but that is true of 99% of ferns and I also think they would be best in a terrarium and perhaps mounted or allowed to become a ground cover on the floor of your terrarium. These creeping ferns can also be found growing on rocks so they are also identified as lithophytes as well as epiphytes. I will decide what to do with these ferns, and I’ll let you know. Since I’ve had back surgery, I haven’t been able to do as much as I would like but soon I’ll be able to get back to working more with my plants. 

fern in terrarium

I’m keeping all these ferns under glass to keep the humidity high

I hope you can find one of these ferns to add to your collection. Do you already have one, or are you going to look for one? Let me know in the comments. 

Have a great week, plant friends!

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