The 45 species of this genus include large, imposing ferns, some of which are suitable for growing indoors. The generally fine feathering of the leaves makes this a graceful plant but, often, they can be kept as pot plants for only one or two years as they become too large for small rooms.
• Microlepia speluncae is the only species commonly obtainable in the trade. Its light green, soft, often slightly drooping fronds emerge at short intervals from the creeping rhizome. They can attain lengths of up to 2 m (80 in) in their natural habitat but will grow to only half that length indoors. The triangular fronds have stalks about 50 cm (20 in) long, are partitioned three or four times and are slightly hairy.
• Microlepia strigosa possesses upright to overhanging, two- or three-fold fronds and remains a little smaller.
• Microlepia platyphylla looks quite different from the other species described above due to its more coarsely feathered, bluish-green, shiny fronds. In this genus the spore clusters develop along the edges of the leaves and at the ends of the lateral veins.
Origin: These are terrestrial ferns from the tropics of Africa and Asia where they often grow on the shady floors of forests or along the banks of rivers. Microlepia speluncae occurs in all tropical and subtropical countries, even along the edges of forests.
Position: Bright to semi-shady, no direct sunlight. Even room temperature all year round; in winter a little cooler (to 15° C/59° F). This plant loves high humidity.
Care: Water plentifully in summer; keep it a little drier during the winter. Fertilize weekly from the first month of spring to the first month of autumn. Mist frequently. Repot every spring as this fern develops a vigorous root system.
Propagation: Fromor division.
Pests, diseases: Scale insects.
My tip: Can be planted in a conservatory as a companion plant for smaller ferns.