We Asked an Expert if the Ferns Will Survive the 'Between Two Ferns' Road Trip Movie

"Ferns are just not the plant I'd choose to take on the road. Zach would be better off with a snake plant."

by River Donaghey
26 May 2019, 1:56am

screenshot via YouTube

A few months ago, news broke that Zach Galifianakis was secretly working on a feature-length adaptation of his painfully funny web series, Between Two Ferns, and on Friday, Netflix just made the thing official. According to the streaming service, Between Two Ferns: The Movie is due out this fall and will be directed by Scott Aukerman, based on a script penned by Aukerman and Galifianakis.

Sources told Hollywood Reporter last December that the movie had already lined up big-name interviews like Peter Dinklage, Bradley Cooper, and Keanu Reeves, among others, and while Netflix didn't confirm any of those names in its announcement, it did tease one intriguing bit of info—whoever Galifianakis winds up interviewing, he's going to be doing it, uh, from the road?

"Zach Galifianakis dreamed of becoming a star," the film's synopsis reads. "But when Will Ferrell discovered his public access TV show "Between Two Ferns" and uploaded it to Funny or Die, Zach became a viral laughing stock. Now Zach and his crew are taking a road trip to complete a series of high-profile celebrity interviews and restore his reputation."

That's right—Between Two Ferns: The Movie will actually be Between Two Ferns: The Road Trip Movie. And, sure, it makes sense that the movie version couldn't just be one long, awkward two-hour interview on the normal Between Two Ferns set. But the concept begs one very important question: Namely, can ferns actually survive an entire road trip? Isn't that, like, bad for plants? Or does the car windows inadvertently create some kind of helpful greenhouse effect?

In order to get to the bottom of this important, pressing question, we here at VICE reached out to Phoebe Stonebraker, former plant buyer at Crest's Urban Garden Center in Brooklyn and the brains behind Instagram's @bestsupportingplants, for an expert's opinion on the safety of the film's titular ferns.

VICE: OK, let's jump right into it. Do you think two ferns could survive a long car trip?
Phoebe Stonebraker: First, some history—ferns were one of the very first plants to evolve, if not the first, and they need a lot more heat and humidity than most plants. They really thrived during the late Paleozoic Era, which was humid and mostly season-less. Basically, they're dinosaur plants.

The Boston fern, which is the plant from Between Two Ferns, became popular during the Victorian Era, when more people had greenhouses to keep them in. Ferns are still sold today and people say they're easy to care for, but I've never found that to be true. They're a great plant for your bathroom, though.

To keep them alive during a road trip, you'd have to create a microclimate inside the car with high humidity and filtered light—if they can do that, the ferns would be happy.

That doesn't seem particularly pleasant for Zach, though.
No! He'd have to keep the windows rolled up the whole time. If the car gets too hot, the plant cooks and dies. If the car is too cold, it freezes and dies. You want it in that 70 to 80 degree temperature all the time.

Sounds sweaty.
There's no way around that. Zach should be careful about what music he listens to, too—plants prefer classical. There have been studies about the effects of music on plants. Hopefully, he'd read up ahead of time.

He'll also need to mist the plant constantly. The soil moisture of the plant is key. A fern should be kept consistently moist. The soil should feel like a wrung-out sponge, not heavy wet, just lightly wet. It's tough. I think a lot of people get ferns and think "I'm a plant killer," but really they have the wrong plant for the wrong environment.

Constant misting wouldn't be very safe, since he'll probably be driving.
If he doesn't want to mist, he could create a pebble tray, which is, unsurprisingly, a tray with pebbles in it that you fill with water. Basically, you're trying to create a tiny humid environment, a microclimate, where the water evaporates up to the leaves of the plant. The pebbles increase the surface area to improve evaporation. All he'd have to do is refill the pebble tray when it dries out.

That could work. And wait, does he just buckle the ferns up in the backseat, or what?
When plants are transported to nurseries, they're protected in a brown sleeve that tucks the leaves up. I recommend that he wrap the plants and secure them with a bungee cord.

But all that said, people transport plants around the country. It's doable. Ferns are just not the plant I'd choose to take on the road. Zach would be better off with a snake plant—it doesn't need a lot of light or water. It thrives on neglect.

Between Two Snake Plants?

Hang on. Are we certain these aren't just fake ferns to begin with? Are we sure they're real?
They look like real Boston ferns to me. My guess—I'd love to know—is that they buy new ones for every episode. They look really fresh and new, like they came out of a greenhouse. And then, after every shoot, someone takes them home and they die. That's my prediction. If they do keep them in the prop room, I want to know what that looks like!

This article originally appeared on VICE US.