Here's How to Propagate Ferns Easily From Clippings or Spores

To spores and beyond, here's how to have an out-of-this-world fern collection using propagation.

Published January 15, 2024

Welcome to Jurassic Park. Wait, not quite right. But it can sure feel like you're walking into a flourishing world straight out of the Jurassic Era when you're surrounded by sprawling green ferns. Since you don't need to fend off any dinosaurs, why not take the time to propagate those ferns? It couldn't be easier, from using spores to dividing up stipes, and the fern world is your oyster. Here's how! 

How to Easily Propagate Ferns From Division

Like propagating pothos, creating a fern from another fern is a piece of gardening cake. However, you won't be cutting the fern, you'll be preserving the roots. This method is best for plants with several offshoots or crowns and not a baby fern with a single crown. 


  1. After removing the fern from the dirt, carefully separate the stems, also called the stipes, using a sharp knife or gardening shovel. 
  2. Taking care not to damage the roots, separate the stems from one another.
  3. Repot or replant each stem with a similar depth as before digging up.
  4. Water your new ferns and root them on! 
Quick Tip

This method is best in the springtime after ferns have thawed out from winter and greened up if you're using outdoor ferns. For indoor ferns, the process can be easier if you water the plant the day before propagating. 

Propagating Ferns From Plantlets

Like many plants, the fern often creates babies or small plantlets, particularly the Boston fern. Removing these from the plant carefully can yield another stunning fern. Much like the division approach, you don't want to separate a plantlet that doesn't yet have its own roots or fronds.

Once it does, however, you can carefully separate the small plantlet from the main crown using a sharp, clean knife. Once the plantlet is in your hand with roots and fronds intact, go ahead and plant the fern in its own home.

Related: 10 Types Ferns for Stunning Indoor & Outdoor Foliage

How to Propagate Ferns Using Spores

fern spores

If you have a single fern, odds are you'll have several more by the following year, all thanks to spores. Hasten the process and propagate your ferns from spores by hand for a lush houseplant collection.


  1. Carefully clip a fern leaf or entire stem that has spores on the underside.
  2. Placing the leaf on wax paper, stack another sheet of wax paper or sheet paper on top. Stash the leaf on a shelf or counter for a few days and leave it undisturbed.
  3. After several days, the paper should have what looks like dust on it. These are the spores! 
  4. To grow these indoors, add dirt to a small jar or planter. Then, thoroughly water the dirt until very moist.
  5. Sprinkle the fern spores onto the dirt. You'll want to use roughly an amount that equals the surface area of your index fingernail. 
  6. Gently mist the spores and cover them with clear plastic wrap, sealing to create a warm and humid environment.
  7. Place the spores in a sunny place, adding a few splashes of water every few days as needed.
  8. Once the ferns start growing, you can repot them into their own space. 

Tips for Propagating Ferns

A little hesitant or nervous about jumping into fern propagation? Here are a few tips to make it even easier. 

  • Using sharp, clean tools is best. You don't want to make jagged cuts in your fern or its roots. A clean tool means you won't bring any foreign germs to the exposed areas, either. 
  • Regardless of how you propagate your ferns, you'll want to keep the soil moist but not soaking wet. Spores will thrive in humidity, so don't forget to keep them covered and warm.
  • While you can use soil from your yard, it can be useful to use storebought potting soil or peat to ensure no weeds thrive with your propagations.
  • Keep a close eye to make sure pests don't thrive. Treat your fern babies if needed. 
  • Have patience! Ferns grow and spread quickly, but it doesn't happen overnight. Try taking a daily picture or logging what you see so that you can keep an eye on how far you've come.

Welcome to the Fern Family

With many ferns comes great responsibility. These forgiving green beauties multiply with ease, but if you're impatient and want to grow your fern family a little quicker, then having these fern propagation tips in the back pocket of your gardening pants will certainly help you reach your goal. Now there's no need to steal those ferns on your walk in the woods. 

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Here's How to Propagate Ferns Easily From Clippings or Spores