Fanatic about Ferns

Australian Tree Fern
The more I discover about the dazzling variety of plants we can grow in our area, the more overwhelmed I get; so little time, so many plants, so little space to plant in ! I have focused my attentions on sun-loving landscape plants until now. Many properties have shady spots, though, and ferns fill a niche in landscapes quite nicely. On of the classic "glasshouse" plants of northern gardens is the Boston Fern, a Florida native. There are as many ferns to grow here as there are any other group of plants, yet so little is known or seen of them in gardens. In the last decade the supply of landscape ferns has increased dramatically, including several varieties of wart fern, a range of maiden hair ferns, a resurgence of tree ferns, and a plethora of species unseen a few decades ago. Some of these ferns are tree-dwellers ( Bear Paw, Oak-leaf Shield, and Staghorn, etc), some grow on rocks ( wart fern, lauae fern), and some are almost fully aquatic ( Giant Everglades Fern, Horsetails,  Osmunda ).
Wart Fern

Maidenhair Fern
Whatever your conditions, there are ferns to suit the need. There are some consistencies with ferns, though, and we should heed them as much as we would heed the right plant- right place credo:

  • Most ferns like consistently available water. Organic soil with lots of compost and heavy mulch are helpful in keeping ferns consistently moist
  • a drip irrigation line on the soil + a battery operated water timer is a great way to grow ferns while saving water 
  • Horsetail Fern
  • light, quarterly applications of balanced organic fertilizers will help a lot in growing a solid fern
  • keep ferns out of dry winds, and away from hot air exhausts
  • route the condensate water from your AC unit to the fern bed; they love the ultra-pure water !
As you would expect, there is a Tropical Fern Society in Miami.The group has a lot of expertise in growing ferns and many other tropical plants here. As with most plant societies, they welcome visitors, readily sharing their expertise with any who ask. Once again we have a perfect combination of great climate, local expertise, and high species diversity. The biggest problems are which plants to select, and how much garden space to allot them. Use your local resources to improve your expertise as well as your garden.

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens 

1 comment:

  1. Can someone tell me what is up with this Boston Fern? I got this from a flower bed in Pensacola Florida many years ago and it maintains this structure... is it a mutation of some sort?