How Do You Take Care of an Epiphytic Microgramma Fern?

by | May 4, 2022 | 0 comments

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 Microgramma Ferns

Creeping microgramma ferns are usually epiphytes. They grow on other plants, but not parasites. They are native to southern Florida, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. A couple of family members 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 purchased at the Michigan African Violet Society show and sale. (No, they are not related to gesneriads.)

It is a Microgramma heterophylla. From what I’ve read, the leaves will get larger. The leaves are tiny 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!

Micgrogramma is 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?

 As you can see, the plant below is labeled Microgramma lycopodioides, but with more research, I think it is M. vacciniifolia. If you have any ideas, please, let me know. Whatever it is, it is an amazing plant, and am happy to have it. It resides in a large glass vessel until I can decide whether to mount it or make a terrarium for all my microgrammas.

Fern rhizome

Care for microgramma ferns

So far, I can only give you information about the one I have from Andy’s Orchids. These plants need to be moist, but that is true of 99% of ferns. I think they would be best in a terrarium. Mine is getting good light from a west window, but not direct sun. It is below the window, so only gets bright light. It loves it in the glass case and is growing like crazy.

These creeping ferns also grow on rocks so they are also identified as lithophytes. I will decide what to do with these ferns and let you know.

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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