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Archive for the ‘Ferns and non-flowering plants’ Category

IMG_8446Lycopodium Cernuum and Lycopodium Clavatum used to be quite common. As natural open spaces, slopes and hills get pushed back, these pretty prehistoric ferns are slowly disappearing.

These lycopodiums look like miniature pine trees with short fine soft hairs. The ferns send out horizontal stems, enabling them to spread over surfaces at a faster rate than propagation through spores.

I first saw them in floral arrangements when I was a kid; not as decorative ferns but compacted and wrapped around to hide unsightly floral sponges or plastic holders.

Since the ferns are not grown commercially, they must have been gathered from the wild. Sadly, they would have ended up in a bin or a compost heap.

IMG_2610Today, we don’t see them at the florist anymore; possibly because of their scarcity.

These lycopodiums have a shallow root system. I have tried a few times to remove the ferns from newly developed areas knowing that they would soon be cleared and replaced by manicured lawns. Each time, the ferns died despite all the care I took. Transplanting them seemed impossible.

Then, I came across a fellow gardener’s tips on relocating the lycopodiums. Fantastic! Armed with that knowledge, I was ready to try again.

So recently on a trip up to the hills, I found some L. Cernuum and Clavatum at the edge of a plot designated for the construction of a home.

IMG_2609In my enthusiasm, I ended up with more than I expected. My booty included grazed hands and knees as I slipped into the drain. If anything, this strengthened my resolve to succeed this time.

I wrapped the ferns in moist tissue and potted them as soon as I could. As advised, I kept the media constantly moist.

Now after more than half a year, I’m relieved to say that the lycopodiums have survived their relocation and are doing quite nicely.

Are these humble ferns worth the scraped knees? Undoubtedly.

Care and propagation: shade or dappled shade (can tolerate full sun once established); mix of loam and clay; water generously; propagation by division, or using spores (challenging)

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It was the biggest cascade of lycopodium squarrosum I’d ever seen. The epiphyte looked as good as mink.

There wasn’t even a price tag on it – a truly priceless plant. There were smaller versions of this beauty for sale. At a whopping USD40 upwards, it was much more than I would pay for a few strands of the plant.

And so I had to be contented with occasional visits to the plant centre, dropping in to feast my eyes on the plant.

A gardening friend gave me a few bits that had detached from his plant. These have rooted and are growing slowly so I know it’ll be years before they grow into anything substantial. No wonder the plant commands a premium price.

Then two weeks ago I chanced on a pile of lycopodium squarrosum that had just been delivered to a garden centre. They had yet to be potted and was sold by the kilogram.

The price? A reasonable USD30 per kilo.

I bought a small clump which weighed a little over 250g. There were 7 strong stems and 2 new shoots, and I knew it could cost thrice as much once it was potted.

The leaves were shorter and coarser than my dream lycopodium, but no matter. I was satisfied.

I carved big holes at the base of a pot and gingerly threaded the stems through the gaps. After filling it with a loose mix of soil, pine park and sphagnum peat moss, and adding a topping of live forest moss, I hung the potted squarrosum.

Finally.

Now I yearn for a clump of the softer squarrosum. Maybe, one day …

Care and propagation: shade to dappled light; well-drained loose soil mixed with mulch and moss; water frequently; loves high humidity. Propagate using cuttings or by division.

my dream lycopodium squarrosum

 

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