Small ferns

queenb(z8b East TX)September 26, 2012

I'm thinking about starting a terrarium in an old 10 gallon aquarium I have, and I'm wanting to do mostly ferns and mosses. I've been looking around, and mosses aren't too hard to work with as far as height and size, but I'm trying to get some ideas as to what kind of ferns to use. I have a heart fern (H. arifolia) that I'm going to start with, and I'd like to have about 3 or 4 others that will be about the same size, but with different shapes and textures. Any suggestions?

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paul_(z5 MI)

Finding small/short ferns is actually harder than you'd expect. Most ferns will start off small but once they take off they get simply HUGE in comparison to the tank (especially a small one like a 10gal.). In addition, do be aware that vigorous "weeding" will be a must with pretty much any fern. Ferns can send runners both above the planting media as well as below it with the result that they can pop up anywhere and everywhere and will "muscle out" most other plants. That said, they are lovely and do add a nice touch.

Nephrolepsis exaltata 'Fluffy Ruffles' is one of the smaller ferns with a very nice fern look to it. In my 90gal terr, it got to be about 6 to 8 inches tall. It was well behaved at first bit once it got comfortable it underwent an explosion of growth and tried to take over the tank. Was absolutely gorgeous though I wound up removing it for the sake of all the other plants I had in the tank.

Pyrrosia piloselloides is a fern that looks nothing like a fern. It has a vine growth habit and the leaves look more like that of a jade (thick, rather round). A very durable fern IME. Like any fern, it will try to conquer your entire tank if you let it.

Btw, with "H. arifolia" do you mean Hexastylis arifolia? If so, that is not a fern but rather a type of wild ginger.

What are you using for a light source? Ferns and even mosses tend to require more light than folks realise.

There are other miniplants that do work well in a well lit terrarium. If you wish you can contact me via email through GW. While I admittedly am not the best about keeping up on my emails, I do tend to check my email more often that I hit this forum.

Happy planting!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 12:03PM
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I love ferns. You could use a dallas fern, maidenhair, button fern.
They sell those little 2 inch pots now at some green houses and people use them for fairy gardens.
You could add in some parlor palms- they grow slowly.
With the ferns you can always split them if they get unruly.
I always try and keep an extra baby fern growing under a bell jar at all times.
Baby ferns are adorable.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2014 at 11:39PM
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For a completely different take on tiny ferns, check out Lemmaphyllum microphyllum (e.g., at Charles Alford's site). This has a vining habit, but you can train it to go where you like, e.g., up a piece of wood. There are 2 forms: regular, with narrow ovoid 2" fronds and a dwarf form with ~ 1/2" more disc-like fronds. The dwarf form is literally cute as a button. Microgramma heterophylla is another one to consider. It has a similar growth habit but spreads more slowly than the regular form of L. microphyllum. Its fronds are more like 2 1/2 to 3" long. Selaginella (a clubmoss, not a true fern) is another to check out: there are dozens of varieties with different textures and colors (for a "bush-like appearance, there's S. kraussiana "Brownii"). Also look up the dragontail fern, Asplenium x ebenoides, a cross between a fern and a spleenwort. It also forms a clump but its fronds are longer, more like 6- 8" long. Then there's Quercifelix zeylanica (oakleaf fern; also called Tectaria zeylanica) has 3-6" long fronds. All of these are available commercially, many from multiple sources.

This post was edited by miniplants on Wed, Dec 17, 14 at 21:02

    Bookmark   December 17, 2014 at 8:49PM
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