Boston ferns, also known as the sword fern, is a popular houseplant. They make excellent indoor plants, provided they receive good care. Caring for this fern is not difficult at all, but it is particular about its needs.
As long as the environment is ideal with pleasant temperature, humidity, and bright, indirect sunlight, the fern will thrive.
As a fern owner, you might notice some strange growth on the plant. Most likely, this growth is aerial roots or stolons, both of which are harmless and useful for propagation. In this guide, let’s learn more about them in detail.
What Are Aerial Roots?
Aerial roots are those that grow on the parts of the plant above the soil. On vines, aerial roots can help secure the plant onto a wall, rock, or any other surface it is next to.
Much like regular roots, aerial roots also absorb nutrients and moisture. Plants that grow in bogs cannot get gasses from the air, which is why they require these aerial roots to absorb air.
For indoor plants, aerial roots do not absorb moisture and nutrients the same way outdoor plants do. However, the roots can be helpful for propagation and stability.
Aerial roots perform several functions for a plant. They help with propagation, air exchange, stability, and nourishment. These roots can be removed from the plant, but it is best to leave them alone to help the plant’s growth.
You can also grow new plants with aerial roots, but not all plants with aerial roots can be planted in soil.
Not all plants grow aerial roots either, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Growing aerial roots is not an indicator of anything wrong with your indoor plant.
Moreover, humidity is the most important factor that encourages the growth of aerial roots.
What Are Aerial Roots On Ferns?
Ferns grow aerial roots for the same purposes as other houseplants. However, you might also notice some additional growth from your fern called stolons.
Stolons are runners that reach out of the plant and slowly develop roots.
Stolons can be removed from the base of the plant and repotted in new soil to grow another fern. You can also cut off stolons without damaging the plant.
When these runners come in contact with soil, they will spout new growth.
Aerial roots are quite common on ferns, especially on Boston ferns. Most fern owners get confused between stolons and aerial roots.
To differentiate between the two, remember that stolon grows just near the surface, and aerial roots grow above the surface of the ground. It is observed that stolons are more commonly found on a Boston fern than aerial roots.
How To Propagate Boston Fern Aerial Roots
Some plant owners like how aerial roots look on the plant and allow them to grow.
If you are one of those who prefer to have the roots on your plant, you can encourage the growth by misting it once in a while. However, if you want to propagate the roots, you can do so too.
Propagating a Boston fern is quite easy. This can be done with aerial roots as well as stolons.
For aerial roots: You cannot simply take a root and expect it to grow a new plant. For the propagation to work, you will need to cut the root from its base, along with a bit of the stem, and then place it in water.
Once the cutting begins to grow in water, it can be removed and planted in soil.
For stolons: The runners you want to propagate can be easily removed by pulling them gently from the plant or with a pair of sterile scissors. If they were removed by hand, you could directly plant them.
If the stolon was cut from the parent plant with a scissor, allow the offset to heal for a couple of days before planting again. The shoot should be planted in fresh soil and a pot with drainage holes. It should be planted just deep enough so that it can support itself.
Cover the offset with a plastic bag and place it somewhere it can receive indirect, bright light. When new growth begins forming, remove the plastic cover and let the plant grow in the pot.
Well, this is how you can propagate the Boston fern aerial roots!
You can also check out the following care guidelines video to learn more about this plant.
Yes, ferns can grow aerial roots, but it is more common for ferns to have stolons. Stolons are runners that grow near the surface of the soil.
The “strings” that are growing out of your ferns are called stolons. Stolons can form new growth if they are placed in soil.
The round things on the fern roots are known as root nodules. Root nodules are a natural adaptation in a plant that ensures survival and is not harmful at all.
They contain water in them so that the plant does not suffer from dehydration during drought periods.
Pruning is an effective way to make the Boston fern appear bushy. Ferns need routine trimming to remove dead, discolored, and unattractive leaves.
Yes, Boston ferns like to be slightly rootbound. Due to its shallow root system and slow growth rate, the plant can take 12-24 months to develop such advanced roots.