Ferns are nothing short of gorgeous. Best of all, they are so easy to care for that most gardeners meet with success. Even those who lust only for colorful flower gardens find ferns invaluable as lush background plantings intermixed with perennials to bring form and texture to their showy beds throughout the growing season. Although the fern family is truly enormous, the gardener’s choices for deliberate cultivation are somewhat limited.
Ferns need light open shade to grow well. While it’s true they’re often found along forest edges, nature rarely grows them in deep shade. And, since ferns root on the soil surface, they need some kind of mulch like bark or wood chips to keep roots cool and prevent weeds from taking over. If you can manage these few requirements, your ferns will be off and running!
Speaking of running, ferns that propagate themselves by runners are aggressive, so plant them where they won’t crowd out other treasures.
|Northern maidenhair fern|
(Adiantum pedatum), a common favorite, has black leafy stalks and knee-high, lyre-shaped fronds of soft blue-green.
|Japanese painted fern|
|Christmas fern - photo by Ben Kimball|
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