Ferns are a plant widely used in landscaping for the decorative foliage, as well as the ability to grow in shade and damp areas .
They are generally very low maintenance which makes them a great landscaping plant in the right position.
One of the more popular fern varieties available from any good fern nursery is the ‘Birds Nest Fern’ or Asplenium nidus pictured right.
Most gardens with large trees or sheltered shady positions can easily accommodate a few ferns, and remember that ferns can add to the tropical garden as well as the temperate and cool climate gardens.
So what makes a Fern A Fern ?
It is the way that they reproduce.
Although ferns are a vascular plant, howver they are unusual in that although they have tissue that conducts water, they do have produce flowers, fruits, or seeds. They reproduce by spreading spores. Some will form clumps and can be divided.
Ferns are also one of the oldest plant forms dating back over 300 million years.
With over 10,000 species care requirement do differ. Some are much hardier than others, some are reasonably drought tolerant and light conditions vary greatly.
Growing conditions include:
- Moisture in both the soil and the Air.
- Nutrients in the soil.
- Amount of light.
- And with so many different species this differs greatly.
Individual care notes are provided on linked pages.
Some ferns are terrestrial, they grow in the ground. Others are epiphytic, they grow on trees, so major differences between varieties here.
Some ferns are small and dainty with lacy foliage, others are large with course foliage such as the tree ferns. And some cope well in full sun and dry conditions such as the Bracken Ferns.
If we look at the best ferns for the garden and indoors we come up with a list:
- Adiantum aethiopicum – The common Maidenhair fern, on of the most popular indoor ferns
- Adiantum aleuticum – The very cold hardy Western Maidenhair fern.
- Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’ – The colorful Japanese painted fern.
- Asplenium nidus – The Birds Nest Fern
- Asplenium scolopendrium – The Hart’s Tongue Fern, one of the best for vertical gardens.
- Blechnum australia – An excellent groundcover fern
- Blechnum gibbum – Silver Lady or Dwarf Tree Fern
- Cyrtomium – These are called ‘Holly Ferns’, excellent for deep shade.
- Polystichum munitum – The Sword Fern, excellent for sunny positions.
- Cyathea species – The wonderful ‘Tree Ferns’ from Australia.
- Dicksonia antartica – The soft tree fern.
For the average gardener the easiest way to propagate ferns is by division, as propagation from spores is difficult. Some ferns to produce small bulbils on the foliage which can be used to arial layer.
Where to buy
A range of ferns are available for sale from the following nurseries
BLOOMIN DESIGNS NURSERY
558 Auburn Rd Auburn GA 30011
BIG DIPPER FARM
6130 SE Green Valley Rd Black Diamond, WA 98010
PO Box 270 Lewisberry PA 17339 No on- site sales
phone: 717 938-8677 fax: 717 938-0771
BLOOM RIVER GARDENS
39744 Deerhorn Road Springfield, OR 97478
Phone: 541-726-8997 Fax: 541-726-4052
PINE KNOT FARMS
681 Rockchurch Road, Clarksville Virginia 23927 USA
434-252-1990 phone 434-252-0768