trying to find 'the perfect fern'

andreajoy(z9 sacramentoCA)February 21, 2005

i'm in zone 9, sacramento, CA...which means really HOT summers and not so bad winters. my entire front yard is full shade...not one bit of sun all day, so i'm thinking among other plants that i would like to put in some ferns. the only ferns i see that people have around here are tree ferns and sword ferns...honestly, i don't care for either one...

do you guys have any suggestions? i really love the ostrich fern and ferns of that style, i'm just not sure if they'll do well here...

thanks for your time,


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deeproots(8b South Ga)

ostrich fern is iffy here... seems the summers take alotta wind out of them.

the perfect fern is a tough one.... I mean do you want it large, small, showy etc.
Dryopteris 'autumn fern and Cyrtomium 'holly fern are always easy and good looking.
I'm a fan of Adiantum, but in your dry locale proper irrigation would be a must.
along those lines, a high quality drip system would make many many ferns easy to grow.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2005 at 1:30PM
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andreajoy(z9 sacramentoCA)

large and showy...yes.

i love the style of the autumn beautiful.

drip system is no problem...was planning on putting one in.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2005 at 3:47PM
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deeproots(8b South Ga)

if you are in zone 9, perhaps you could get away with some Nephrolepsis.

I'm thinking macho fern, fishtail fern, and a few others. Run a google on Nephrolepsis furcans... it's a winner.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2005 at 10:28PM
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stephenpope2000uk(Brighton, UK)

'The only ferns I see that people round here have are tree ferns and sword ferns...honestly, I don't care for either one.'

Each to their own of course (assuming they really can tell a tree fern from a telegraph pole and are not just having a knee-jerk reaction against the dictatorship of temporary fashion trends), but why don't 'tree ferns' in all their varied potential guises meet any of your criteria for ostrich-like showy ferns? There's more than one way to deploy tree ferns - they don't always have to be solitary specimen trunks incongruously forced into hard landscaping in that urban courtyard style that is now a bit of a cliche.

If you really are attracted to dramatic ostrich-like frond effects, it just seems perverse to pre-emptively take against Cyathea, Blechnum, Cibotium, Todea, Angiopteris, and the like. Explain a little more what effect you're after, and why those species seem so unsuitable, and then maybe we can offer some suggestions.

Steve - Brighton, UK

    Bookmark   February 22, 2005 at 4:29AM
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andreajoy(z9 sacramentoCA)

thanks to deeproots for your help, i really appreciate it...


what i was referring to was the tasmanian tree fern...which is highly overused in this area.

has anyone ever told you that you come off as pretentious, judgemental, and snobby? i'm asking for help here...not to be put down for my lack of fern knowledge...

sorry i wasn't born with unending knowledge of ferns...i suspect that you weren't either.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2005 at 12:46PM
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deeproots(8b South Ga)

aside from "pretentious, judgemental, and snobby" (which is what I like most about steven pope, by the way), mr pope has a very good point to make.
Dicksonia antarctica is overused in your area... ok, but still the Cibotiums, Cyatheas, and Blechnums are very impressive and good ideas. You are lucky to be in a climate where you have a real chance of growing some of these... best not to rule them out right off the bat.
Blechnum brasiliense and Blechnum gibbum do make interesting subjects, and a large Cibotium will always draw attention.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2005 at 10:18PM
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stephenpope2000uk(Brighton, UK)

'Pretentious' means pretending you know about (ferny) stuff when you don't really. Do you honestly think I just make it all up? You might not like my advice - ie, consider tree ferns in their entirety, not rush to judgement based on little knowledge - but you're not in any position to denigrate my commitment to getting useful and accurate knowledge about tree ferns out into the gardening community. Misinformation only begets yet more misinformation - at least it does within internet hobby culture, which has an understandable bias towards upbeat optimism - and my criticism of those who spread third-hand nonsense about tree ferns on Gardenweb is an attempt to offer a counterbalance.

Forums offer a diversity of opinion and tone - it just comes with the territory - and you just have to live with it. Sorry.

Steve - Brighton, UK

    Bookmark   February 24, 2005 at 2:57PM
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autumnmoon(6a/se ks)

OMG! Stephenpope200uk... If you ever have the necessity to talk to me, please use the 5 cent under educated Kansas HillBilly words for me! lol



    Bookmark   February 28, 2005 at 10:45PM
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stephenpope2000uk(Brighton, UK)

The internet is global and GardenWeb reaches just about everywhere. So nobody in Europe, say, has to copy the affectations of a fake '5 cent under educated Kansas HillBilly' just to appease you. We all write as we see fit, preferably of things we actually know something about.

You have another agenda going here, and it's not really anything to do with ferns.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2005 at 4:29AM
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Andrea was looking for suggestions, not attitude. Perhaps your suggestions would have found better purchase, Stephenpope, if you'd cut the condescending attitude with more sincere attention to her needs as opposed to your own.

Andrea, I might suggest you chat with someone more local, perhaps at a nearby nursery, to get better info (and less attitude!) about ferns that meet your climate and preference. Good luck :)

    Bookmark   March 12, 2005 at 1:02AM
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I really enjoy my japanese painted ferns. looking at a few websites they seem rated for zone 9 tolerance. they have survived 101 degree days here as long as the soil stayed moist. Mine are divided from my grandfathers and so I can trace it back about 60 years. very beautiful plants. a yahoo image search will pull up some decent pics.
Watch what you pay though, I've seen asking prices as high as 100$ but I've seen it as low as 6$.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2005 at 9:13AM
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I'd been hoping this silliness would've disappeared by now. Ho hum. Anyways, Spire--what I think Steve was trying to convey in his second post is that people differ in how they communicate, and part of using online forums effectively is accepting that fact. I think the impression that he was being condescending is mostly a result of American anti-intellectual prejudices rather than a result of his being an ass. I'll certainly admit, though, that the latter is possible. :)

In any case, Steve gave good advice and I think it's much more profitable to accept that advice for what it is than to sit around worrying about whether or not his way of expressing himself happens to fit your preconceived notions of how people ought to talk.

Regarding "perfect ferns"... well, I can't give too much advice since I don't have any experience with the climate. I wonder, though, if a couple of my favorite ferns from the east would do well there. Diplazium pycnocarpon (aka Athyrium pycnocarpon; I don't recall the full common name offhand, but it's got "glade fern" in it) would probably give the intended effect, if it grows there. Or if you were looking at lady ferns (Athyrium proper) the US native Athyrium filix-femina is, for my tastes, a much more enjoyable plant than the Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum).

Patrick Alexander

    Bookmark   March 15, 2005 at 10:03AM
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