Friday, January 22, 2010

Ferns in Your Garden

I recommend adding ferns in your shade garden. Ferns offer very fine textured foliage. Plant'em in clumps of three or more. Select the proper fern by your garden site, e.g whether it is likely dry or moist soils. Some grow surprisingly well in full sun, but most prefer partial to full shade. Don't buy a collection of different ferns for planting in one garden place. Instead, select them by their light and soil moisture needs.

Here are four species which are easy to grow:
  • Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)
  • Autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora)
  • Lady fern (Athryium felix-femina)

All four are not finicky, demonstrate good drought tolerance and grow in soil with little to no additional soil prep. Ideally, you should them in a richly composted garden soil along with adequate moisture over long dry spells. A weak fertilizer solution monthly from April to August will get all off to a good start in the first year.

Northern maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum) - (pictured)- prefers well-drained, highly composted soils and supplemental moisture during long summer dry spells. Keep soil near pH 7.0 (neutral) by occcasional liming every few years if soil pH drops.

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