Ferns are primitive plants that don’t have flowers or cones to produce seed. Instead, they produce spores on the backs of their leaves.
Ferns are great to use in your garden - they look delicate and feathery and often are an excellent solution for shaded areas. Different ferns require various light levels. Those with reddish new fronds, such as Blechnum penna-marina, will tolerate more light than those with very dark green fronds.
What to grow
Common ferns that are easy to grow are several aspleniums and Blechnum penna-marina.
- Free draining soil that retains moisture is ideal for ferns. Most ferns don't do well in clay soils.
- Improve soil drainage and aeration by adding organic matter before planting.
- Ferns don’t like to dry out, so mulch after planting and water during dry periods.
How to grow
Some species, such as the hen and chicken fern (Asplenium bulbiferum), will benefit from the occasional removal of old fronds. Tree ferns can look unsightly when old fronds are draped around the trunk. However, fronds also protect the trunk from drying out, so perform an important function.
Top image: Blechnum discolour