Ferns

zigzagApril 30, 2009

Half circle raised garden w/a large Japanese Maple lording over all (i.e. very shady). Put in two Christmas ferns last spring - they survived, stayed alive , but didn't thrive....... added two Autumn ferns last fall and they've done the same, survived and nothing more.

This spring I did cut back all the winter weary fronds and saw re-growth - the fiddleheads were encouraging - but only a few on each plant. Now the whole group is pretty pathetic .... will they continue to shoot new fronds or is this it?

Should I stand by them or cut my losses?

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esh_ga

Christmas fern is a clumper, it should just keep getting bigger. Autumn fern is a spreader, but you need to give it a little more time.

Aggressive spreaders (but not evergreen) include: New York fern, Broad beech fern, Sensitive fern and Netted Chain fern (all native).

Another evergreen fern to consider is East Indian holly fern.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 9:31AM
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zigzag

Thanks much for the tutorial, esh_ga, and especially the info on native ferns I'm not familiar with. I do like the evergreen aspect since this garden is in direct line of sight from my usual year-round perch in the sunroom. But, as these establish, I'll be up for adding more non-evergreens. I've drooled over a Japanese painted (or something like that)fern in garden centers, but want to get the evergreens established first and the more native, the better.

I do know/understand the 'sleep, creep, leap' yearly sequence of perennials and am now going to my room to write "I will be patient" one hundred times! Thanks again :o)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 8:10PM
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pfmastin(8 N. Carolina)

Hi Zigzag,
I am in Eastern NC. I have tried a number of ferns in my small pine stand...dappled sun, dry and sandy soil. Like you, they have survived but not multiplied. The one that's worked best is Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina). It had spread from a few plants to maybe a 15 foot patch in three years.
Pam

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 9:27AM
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zigzag

Thanks to you too, Pam - adding Lady Fern to my list!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 9:01PM
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zigzag

And, just to further confuse my issue .... this half-circle raised garden is maybe 18' wide x 5' deep on the outer edge of the half-circle. Besides the thriving Japanese Maple, two early plants of Soloman's Seal have spread nicely, but they disappear come winter, thus my quest for evergreens so it doesn't look so bare all winter.

esh_ga's comments about spreader vs. clumper are much appreciated - given that info, I seem to have accidentally placed them correctly! And I'll have to consider my space availabilty when adding more ferns.

Since this raised garden is so in my line of vision, and since the shadiness of it increases year by year, thanks to the gorgeous Jap Maple, I'm just wanting to fill it up w/foliage. Last year I hit it right w/an unknown, rich color, variety coleus that stayed wide & low and thrived in the shade - gotta find that again soon. I'm not a big fan of annuals, but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Now I'm pretty sure caladiums would be very happy in this garden, and would like to add them to the coleus, but can't find bulbs (and am too poor to buy nursery plants). Is it too late to even think about starting bulbs? Should I just mortgage the puppy and get plants? Couple of years ago, my DIL casually planted some bulbs from a net bag at Lowes and those caladiums just kept going for years. That's what I want!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 10:01PM
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tamelask(z8a NC)

Not too late for caladiums or coleus, either one. In fact, timing's about right since neither can handle any frost and like warm soil. I almost always get caladiums as bulbs at big boxes and they do well. They grow fast that way and fill in well. To keep them from year to year you do have to dig up the bulbs- they don't survive winters here.

A good variety of coleus can be found at the farmer's market- one vendor in particular has a huge selection, usually. Not been out lately so i can't guarantee it, but they are normally there. Since coleus root so well if you want to stay cheap you can just get a couple plants and root some cuttings to fill in. Campbell rd usually has a good selection, too- but that's a ways for you.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 10:34PM
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