How to Grow Fern Plants

Cinnamon Fern Plant

About Shade Loving Fern Plants

Fern plants make their home where the sun doesn’t shine. Shade loving ferns make their home under the cool shade of trees. This lush, green plant thrives in areas receiving little or no direct sunlight. It makes your shade garden its home where no sun-loving plant or bush can survive. So, growing Ferns in your shade garden is a pretty neat idea, huh!?! Well, here’s another neat idea: use hanging baskets with ferns in them on the shady side of your house, or in a shaded patio.

Out in the forest, there’s a wide range of ferns, growing unattended. Unattended you say? Why that must mean they require little or no attention. Why that’s my kind of plant for my backyard.  

Home gardeners value them because they are easy to grow, and varieties are abundant. They make an attractive plant in the shady or wooded sections of the backyard. Try them as edging along with a stand of trees. They are very attractive mixed among a group of rocks, too.

Ferns are non-flowering plants grown around the world. Scientists believe they are among the oldest of plants, dating back 350 million years. Over those 350 million years, they have spread their rhizome roots across the globe. About the only place they are not found in desert regions, and the north and south poles.

Around the world, there are over thousands of species, although there are only about 300-400 varieties in the U.S. Some ferns grow as small as an inch and are perfect for terrariums, or as indoor houseplants. Others grow as big as a tree, up to 50-60 feet! Most ferns have long lives and propagate by producing spores.

Family: Pteridophyta

Fern Plant Propagation

Ferns produce spores (like mushrooms).  Spores develop on the underside of the leaves. Millions of spores are produced. But, only a few spores land in a place suitable to grow. They also grow by spreading their underground Rhizomes (roots).

Did you know? Some ferns are on the Endangered Species list. If you are going out into the woods in search of these plants to transplant to your shade garden, make sure you know how to identify them.

Fern Hanging Basket

How to Grow Shade Loving Fern Plants

Ferns are slow to grow but have long lives. Most people buy plants from garden supply stores or on the Internet.

Select a location with partial to full shade. The plants like soil that is rich in organic matter. If your soil is poor, add lots of compost and organic matter. They require the soil to be moist at all times. After planting your fern, water well.

Your plant should thrive for years with little attention. If your soil is poor, apply organic compost and mulch from time to time. In dry periods, make sure to keep the soil moist.

Most people will let fern plants grow naturally. You can prune dead or damaged leaves (also called fronds).

Ideal Soil pH: 6.0 – 7.0.

Also, see:

Plant Problems – Identify the causes and find the cures.

Important Note: Some ferns are poisonous. Unless you know the variety you have is safe, keep children and pets away from ferns.

Insects and Plant Disease

Insects and plant disease are not too common. But, if problems arise, treat early with insecticides or fungicides as appropriate.

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