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Phlebodium Aureum - Plant of the Month

Phlebodium Aureum, more commonly known as the blue rabbits foot fern, have unusual, soft blue/grey leaves (similar in colour to Eucalyptus) that set them apart from other ferns. Like many other epiphytes it is found growing on the bark of its host tree in the shaded rainforest canopies of South America. They prefer cool, shady, and humid conditions making it a great plant for a north facing kitchen or bathroom.

   

Unlike some other varieties of fern, Phlebodium are pretty hardy providing their basic needs are met. Because of where they grow naturally they prefer mid to lower light levels, but can tolerate bright, indirect light as long as it’s a fairly cool spot. You will notice your Phlebodium starting to suffer if the air around it is warm or dry so try to keep it away from radiators and other heat sources.

They will really thrive in high humidity so regular misting is essential if not in a naturally humid area (bathroom, kitchen). Other ways of upping the humidity for your plants include placing the pot onto a dish filled with stones and water to slowly release humidity throughout they day, or buying a humidifier or electric diffuser.

 

Like most other ferns, Phlebodium like their soil to be kept slightly damp but will not tolerate being waterlogged. You will notice they have very hairy, reddish brown rhizomes (a sort of creeping root stalk that the fronds of the fern grow out of) running across the top of the compost – these are quite prone to rot if they become too sodden so we would always advise watering your Phlebodium from the bottom of the pot instead of directly onto the soil.

   

Because they are epiphytes (plants that grow on the surface of a host plant without killing it, taking moisture and nutrients from the air) and therefore wont tolerate being waterlogged, it’s best to plant them with something like an orchid potting mix which has plenty of bark in the soil, allowing water to drain freely.

 

To propagate:

The easiest way to propagate a Phlebodium is by division. You can also do this from the spores, but it’s a trickier process.

To divide your plant, simply split the root base in half by gently teasing the root ball apart with your fingers (can be quartered if the plant is well enough established, as long as there is sufficient young growth in each section) and re pot each section into an appropriate sized pot filled with a free draining compost mix. Water well but do not feed your plant at this stage as it needs to recover from the division and feeding may send it into shock.

 


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