August 14, 2007

Ferns for Every Light Condition

Ferns are such lush, beautiful plants but many people consider them difficult to grow. Often, the case is that they provide the fern improper lighting conditions, causing the fern to stress and eventually die.

There is at least one fern that will thrive in just about every light condition possible except complete darkness. The key to having happy ferns is to know what each species needs to thrive and providing those conditions in your home or garden.

Landscape Ferns

If you need a fern-like plant for bright, direct sunlight, the asparagus fern is perfect. This plant is really not a true fern but a member of the lily family. It grows well all year long in southern climates. These specimens make great landscape plants and look dramatic spilling over a rock feature or planter box.

In the average home, low to medium light is the norm. Holly ferns will thrive in these conditions. The glamorous birds nest fern is perfect for low to bright light conditions where no direct sunlight contacts the fern. If necessary, add a thin curtain to cut light in harsh lighting situations.

All ferns require good drainage. If the soil is not well-drained, the fern can not thrive. Sandy shoals or humus-rich soil is preferred by almost every species of fern. To place ferns in your landscape, choose elevated beds with well amended soil to provide drainage and aeration. Avoid dense, clay soil unless it is amended extensively to achieve the level of drainage and aeration required. But you must still keep light conditions in mind. Indirect light will help your ferns produce healthy fronds, which are the leaf-like structures of ferns. Direct, harsh, afternoon sun is stressful for most ferns.

Fun Things About Ferns

One of the fun things about [ferns] is that they are so easy to divide. Potted ferns should be removed from their posts when root bound and divided into two specimens, each going into fresh soil in separate pots. Outdoor a href=“” rel=“tag”>ferns can be divided by cutting off some well-established runners or digging a clump of fern from a well-established specimen and transplanting it.

Once you find just the right lighting situation for your fern and have a thriving specimen, do not attempt to relocate it. All too often ferns kept indoors are rearranged into different exposures. For example, if your fern is doing great in a northern exposed window, don’t move it over to an eastern exposure. Work around the plant’s needs and allow it to live where it thrives.

Outdoor Potted Ferns

Of course, if you keep potted ferns outdoors and live in a climate where winters are harsh, you simply must move your potted ferns indoors to allow them to survive the winter. The key to making this transition from outdoors to indoors is to place the plant in lighting conditions as much like those it enjoyed outdoors as possible. When spring arrives, return the plants to the outdoors after the last possibility of frost. If the plant has been in lower light conditions than it experiences outdoors, you can move it slowly, allowing it to adjust to the bright light without stressing too severely.

Tags: Perennial Flowers

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