• Gabrielle Stannus

Heading into the great outdoors for some indoor inspiration

When looking for new plants to use indoors, why not investigate your own 'back yard' for inspiration?

Australia is home to thousands of plant species. Yet perhaps relatively few of them end up in our interior plantscapes. Some of the more well-known native plants in use indoors include Ficus benjamina (Weeping Fig), Schefflera actinophylla (Umbrella Tree), Asplenium spp. (Spleenworts), and Blechnum spp. (Water Ferns). Brachychiton rupestris (Bottle Tree) even gets a guernsey. What other beauties could we cultivate indoors?


Here in northern Tasmania, I am fortunate enough to live in a cool temperate rainforest. It is indeed a beautiful place to be, especially if you love plants! I love nothing better than to unwind by walking out our door and heading into one of the shady gullies that run through our block.

Our backyard ... well parts of it! (Image: Ludovic Vilbert, Inwardout Studio)

A couple of plants have caught my eye and I am very keen to try them out in an indoor design, especially given their relative ease of propagation.


Microsorum pustulatum (Kangaroo Fern)

The deeply lobed leaf of Microsorum pustulatum resembles a kangaroo paw hence its common name (Image: Ludovic Vilbert, Inwardout Studio)

Microsorum pustulatum (syn. Microsorum diversifolium) is a native fern found from Queensland to Tasmania. It is commonly found as an epiphyte in rainforest, wet sclerophyll forest and in more open places in the sub-alpine zone. However, it can also grow on the ground, rocks and logs.


M. pustulatum possesses fleshy, creeping rhizomes which form large clumps. Whilst it can be propagated sexually via spores, it can also be reproduced asexually dividing and layering the growing points of its rhizomes.


This so-called Kangaroo Fern can be used in ferneries, especially on a section of tree trunk fern, or placed in a hanging basket or pot. I am keen to trial this plant in a green wall design as I reckon its epiphytic growth habit will suit that environment well.



Here Microsum pustulatum is seen growing as a lithophytic plant on a rock (Image: Ludovic Vilbert, Inwardout Studio)

Polystichum proliferum (Mother Shield Fern)

Polystichum proliferum (Image: Ludovic Vilbert, Inwardout Studio)

Polystichum proliferum is a very common and widespread ground fern in wet forests in Tasmania. The plants are large clumps, with large, dark-green divided leaves.


Like M. pustulatum, P. proliferum can be propagated sexually from spores. However, P. proliferum often produces bulbils, plantlets growing from the upper parts of the fronds, as does Asplenium bulbiferum. As the weight of the bulbil increases, the frond sags until the bulbil can take root in the soil underneath. Growers of this species can carefully layer the frond on the ground and fix with a peg until rooted or they can remover the bulbil and place it in a pot.


The architectural foliage of this Mother Shield Fern sees it used as an accent plant in bush gardens. I also want to trial it out in a green wall design or as a beautiful potted plant specimen.


A bulbil growing from the tip of a Polystichum proliferum frond (Image: Ludovic Vilbert, Inwardout Studio)

NB. Before you collect any native plants from public and/or private land, make sure you check out whether they are listed as a threatened species. There are State and Federal laws protecting endangered plants. And that is a good thing!

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