Rabbit's Foot Fern

Gardening with Gary

Q. I would like to have some EASY instructions on the Rabbit's Foot Fern, Humata tyermanii. It is so ODD the way it grows with these rabbit feet type of roots? - not sure what they are really - all over the outside of the pot! I cannot get to changing the pot, would like to know how if these rabbit feet are like this, afraid to break them....how do I do it? What is amazing also is that the fern leaves are growing out of these rabbit feet....is there any earth in the pot? It is so thick that I cannot see through the leaves into the pot plus it is all so tight. I love this new plant, but would like to change the ugly pot and perhaps place it into a hanging basket and if it is meant to grow all over the outside of the pot, well that is fine, except how do I transplant it out of the ugly plastic hanging pot that it is now in?

A. I love this plant and have grown it for many years off and on. The feet are actually adapted roots which can be broken off and reproduce a new plant which you see green leaves coming from now. All each needs is to sprout roots and you have another plant.

So, knock the plant out of that pot. If you dislike the pot so much, use a hammer and crack it off to free the tight rootball which you must have. Allow ball to dry out on newspaper for a day or so and then carefully use your hands and fingers, or a sharp knife, and break/cut apart the plant. You may find that you can divide it into a couple plants with leave and roots!

Any fingers which have broken off lay on a moist 50/50 blend of vermiculite and perlite in a low tray or several shallow pots and stick 1/2 way down, keeping leaf stems above the mix surface. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or glass pane and set in a window with light but nothing direct to heat and burn them. Soon, they will root and you can repot them into small pots and have lots more rabbits foot ferns!

Do not feed any of the plants for about a month. Also, do not overwater as you may get root rot. I recommend that you lighten a potting mix with lots of perlite and a little vermiculite and peat. You do not need any material commonly called 'soil'. This is a 'soil-less' mix.

Here is a fine website to go to: http://www.srtrop.com/ferns/humata.html