Any tips on caring for Selaginella uncinata?

treehaus(4)February 7, 2007

I recently bought a Selaginella uncinata, and I am a little worried about the mid-winter aridness, among other things.

Does anyone have any pointers on how best to care for one of these? It is potted in a plastic pot, and it has quite a few longer runners overflowing the pot. It is sitting in a deep-set window where it gets ample light, and where temperature is about like it is in the rest of the room. I guess I am wondering how often I should water it, how much light it should get, how sensitive to temperature it is, and I welcome any other insights into the best way to care for this plant. Thanks so much!!

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I think that the main thing that you need to be concerned about during winter is the relative humidity of the area that the plant sits in. You may want to set the potted plant on a tray filled with aquarium gravel and that is kept mosit to help humify the air. Or possibly spray it once a day or two.
I have this plant. I was concerned that it would not make it over my winter last year and so I moved it into a glass candy jar, with a cover, have no notes on what I used to pot it into. It sits in my greenhouse relatively ignored!
But a piece of it had dropped off into a pot of moss and it
has survived with relatively no care other than my regular daily sprayings of my mosses. Below is a care sheet on it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Selaginella uncinata care sheet

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 8:16PM
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Thank you for your help. Although I do not have a greenhouse, what you are saying is still encouraging. I guess I will just monitor it closely and see what happens depending on where I have it in my house. Thank you!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 1:17AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

I grow several species of Selaginellas in the shadehouse
indirectly as they are used as underplantings for other plants. Care sheet seems to have good advice I find that they become rather dormant during winter as my temps dip into the 40's. Not sure if this is an option or necessary
as I've grown them in terrariums and they eventually wasted away,suggesting that a dormant period was needed.
Right now I'm experimenting growing them in a flowing marsh situation and attached to constantly moist driftwood.
Doing well in both situations but are being over run with epi ferns. lol Interesting how they change ccolor and growth habit throughout the year and in different situations gary

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 5:54AM
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I found an interesting article from a scientific journal about the blue iridescence of S. uncinata and S. willdenowii. The iridescence is thought to be the result of something called 'thin-film interference'. Thus, the iridescence is not the result of pigmentation. The leaves of S. uncinata and willdenowii have epidermal cells that are lense-shaped, and this increases refraction. These lense-shaped epidermal cells also have large chloroplasts set near the cell walls (which is rare, the article would suggest) that increase light-absorption. The article suggests the iridescence is an adaptation (to extreme shade) since it contributes to the plant's ability to absorb light. The article also states the following: "The green leaves that develop in response to more direct sunlight do not become blue when subjected to shade, but blue leaves gradually turn to green with age or exposure to more direct light." S. willdenowii is apparently a climbing version akin to S. uncinata. I would like to see images of them in their natural habitats, but I have been unable to find any.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 10:27AM
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Growing in terrariums.
How warm do they get.
I think all the Selaginellas tend to like it cool. Even the tropical ones. I can only grow S. kraussiana on the floor of my greenhouse where it is coolest and shadiest plus the floor is almost constantly wet due to my twice daily misting to maintain a minimal 70% humidity.
I have several in different glass containers, even plastic containers in the greenhouse on the bench. Have not looked at them recently-will do so and take images but I think that they are alive and the uncinata is doing very great.
In fact just imaged the one that got started on its own out in a pot of a moss. It has really grown!!! In deep shade. gets misted daily at least twice or more. No real care at all. Now to find where I filed the image!!!????

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 6:33PM
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terrestrial man,

If you don't mind my asking, when you say that your S. kraussiana and S. unciata are growing in deep shade, how deep is deep? I do not have a green house, I am growing my S. uncinata indoors, and remain uncertain as to how shady a part of the house it needs to be in in order to be happy. Any suggestions I would greatly welcome. Thanks!!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 7:34PM
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if you are growing yours in the house I do not think that you have to worry but the foot candle readings are probably around 100 ft candles. Maybe less. I will have to measure it.

Incidentally, I found the image of the plant outside. It is growing basically covered by other plants.

It got down to some 26 F as the lowest though it is possible that this plant was protected by the overgrowth of other plants but would definitely have felt the bite of freezing!!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 8:58PM
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That looks great! Do you know what kind of liverworts and other bryophytes you have in there? Looks fantastic! Thanks for the tip - you're probably right about the light. Although I have a lot of southern exposure, I doubt that the foot candles are significant where I currently have the plant - about 8' from the nearest windows.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 12:30AM
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Interesting discussion.
Have not grown S.uncinata as an indoor plant, so can't really address the culture requirements necessary in that environment. I have a patch, about 100+ sq.ft., in my garden and I have ignored it for many years. It continues to expand, seemingly at an exponential rate through the years, from the tiny 4" potted plant start. It has crossed a stone path, via runners embedded in the cracks between the stones and tumbled over a stone wall and is now invading my lawn.
The soil is red clay, ammended by compost from fallen leaves of a Sweet Gum tree and Pine needles. I haven't tested the soil, but assume it is very acidic. It has been in total shade (summer) for many years, until 2 years ago, when the adjacent property owner cut down a large, healthy Southern Magnolia tree. The part that is exposed, now receives about 3-4 hrs. of direct morning sunlight.
There are a number of other herbaceous perrenials. shrubs & bulbs that co-exist with the moss and provide shade, as the moss will readily grow underneath them.
With our winter temperatures of often 0°F, or less, it is not evergreen and usually goes dormant afer the 1st freeze.
I have seldom irrigated that area, until the neighboring tree was removed and the direct sun exposure now necessitates watering of some plants.
I have removed many sections and potted up for friends and it recovers so rapidly that within a few weeks, you couldn't determine where it had been removed.
I have 6 other species of Selaginella and this one is, by far, the most interesting and easiest to grow, maybe excepting S. stauntoniana, which produces gemmae more prolifically than it's look-alike, S. moellendorffii.
I now have some S. uncinata potted, for friends that neglected to come and collect them, but they are overwintering outdoors. Will see how they fare, come spring! Coldest temperature we have experienced so far this winter has been 18°F.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 1:34AM
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100 sq. feet? That sounds like quite a patch! I will have to remain content with the 1/2 a square foot I am growing indoors. So, on that grand scale, does S. uncinata ever begin to obtain any height, or does it remain, like mine, a ground-hugging plant that hovers a few inches above the soil? Do they tolerate foot traffic?

I am surprised that they tolerate the kind of low temps you are talking about. I am sure it's too tender for the outdoors in Minnesota, though I know of at least two kinds of Selaginella that do grow here (Selaginella selaginoides, S. rupestris).

I know S. uncinata's place of origin is China, but I haven't been able to figure out what it's natural habitat is like, except that it must live beneath very dense forest canopies somewhere with abundant moisture. Have you seen S. willdenowii? It is like uncinata, but apparently more robust, and quite a climber. Below is a link to some images of willdenowii.

Here is a link that might be useful: S. willdenowii

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 11:31AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Seem to remember reading somewhere that blue does not occur in animals through pigment but by refraction of only blue light.. Certainly true of butterflies and birds also seems true of fish. There is a fern,Microsorium thailandicum
that will turn almost a sparkling blue when happy much like
uncinata. To me they both look like the color is refracting
as they will change color from different directions.
Terrestrialman My terrariums have been know to reach low nineties during summer in spite of air conditioning. I would agree uncinata doesn't like it lol.
At present I'm growing martinsii and uncinata in the shadehouse only. Recently got some erythopus the red form
Any experience with it??
razorback 100 square feet !!?? must be gorgeous !!
Amazing how large the family of Selaginella .Seem to come from all over the world.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 3:18PM
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How did you propagate the new uncinatas - the ones you potted for friends? Just by division, or by taking cuttings? Has anyone else propagated Selaginellas from cuttings? If so, any suggestions?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 5:28PM
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My colony is fairly thick and I just find a large clump and take it up, with some of the soil. It is shallow rooted, so is easy to remove. If my soil was somewhat more friable, I could remove without a trowel.
Mine attains a height of 6 or more inches, so, if you are growing it outdoors, in a suitable location, forget the descriptions most used in ads, that it is a low growing moss about 1" tall!
While it is true that it needs shade to exhibit the iridescent blue color, it doesn't need the bifocals to focus the light when grown in the sun and is all green, while happily producing chlorophyll-b. It's China nativity is heavily forested areas in 6 southern provinces, generally below 25°latidude N, therefore it has adapted to the low light conditions by developing the focal lenses, which reflect the blue spectrum. (Short wavelength, visible light, recommended for treatment of circadian rhythm related mood disorders. Grow blue moss, be happy!)
It can also be found in NE India, N Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan and the US Gulf Coastal states, FL to LA (Including GA.)
The US population was formed by cultivation escapees. The other populations, ex-China were not determined.
Some pronounce that it is hardy to USDA Zone 6 and mine has suffered temperatures as low as -2°F with no apparent degredation.
Rooted cuttings or removing tenacles that have developed their own roots is an easy way to propagate the moss. Being a Selaginella, it would also produce gemmae that develop into new plants.
I'm considering S. willdenowii, but it certainly wouldn't survive these winters outdoors and I don't have much room to overwinter another Tropical plant. S. erythropus is already too much trouble and may give it up and treat as an Annual and purchase new ones each spring.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 9:38PM
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Thanks Razorback! Interesting - thanks for all the info. I had been wondering about what part of China S. uncinata comes from. Sounds like it really gets around! India, Vietnam, Taiwan, Alabama, etc.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 11:19PM
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Just found this thread and sorry I missed it earlier! I, too, have this growing naturalized as a ground cover and as a potted plant grown from a few cuttings collected in the jungles of South central Thailand. As with the others experiences, it spreads quite easily and can be cut and repotted without problems as long as you keep the humidity up.
I just made about 200 5" trays for transplanting as a ground cover. I usually put down a layer of coconut cubes (1/2"- 1" cubes) and then sprinkle fine compost over the transplanted cuttings and water in.
Here's a couple pictures;

As a background ground cover;

and potted;

The S. willdenowii grows much taller and will climb surrounding bushes but this species seems to just stick flat to the ground for me and makes a great ground cover in low-light areas. Good luck with it!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 8:26PM
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Hi, I have one of these plants and I did everything the tag said to do e.g shade, keep moist etc. but it has now gone a pale yellow almost cream colour. I figure it is probably dead knowing me and m,y evil green thumb but id=s there any hope for it?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 11:16PM
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Indigo_Skye(7 (Taylors, SC))

I just got help on here identifying this very moss today! Anyway, I love this pretty little plant that I saved from near death last year when I bought it at a local store on the clearance rack. It was very pot bound so I divided it into 4 different containers and it quickly recovered. I have since divided the same 4 containers MANY times over. I like the way it looks hanging from containers so I put them in containers on shelves and wall hooks on my front porch. The porch gets only reflective afternoon light so nothing direct, but still sunny. I do make sure that the containers I use have lots of drainage holes and only water it about once a week or week and a half. Here in upstate SC we get pretty cold in the winters, often down into the 20s. Mine didn't die this past winter they just became dormant. However this past winter was extremely mild. While we did have a couple days of 20s and 30s, they were quickly followed with very mild 40s and 50s and even 60s! I guess I will try to remember to bring my wee beauties in this coming winter so I don't potentially lose them. That would make me very sad indeed.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 8:11PM
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