Holly fern help

TexasSnowMarch 28, 2014

My 2-year-old holly ferns look terrible, although I'm pretty sure they are all alive. I have cut back all the dead fronds, but need suggestions on care. They are all under mature red oaks in clay soil.

I really need to do what I can to get these poor plants revived, replacing all of them would be really expensive.

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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Some of mine looked bad too so a couple of weeks ago I cut them back, loosened the soil, applied some fertilizer and compost, mixed it in, and watered. They are already putting out new fronds. Mulching the ground around them would be beneficial also. They'll do fine and you won't have to replace them.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 12:32AM
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Thanks for the reply. What type of fertilizer did you use?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 9:53AM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

As for fertilizer -- nothing special, just whatever I have on hand. I watch for broken bags of fertilizer at Lowes; preferably those with a slow release form of nitrogen. Organically derived fertilizer is my first choice, but I'll use other types also.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 11:03AM
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Just to add to roselee's excellent comments: Holly fern may be the easiest fern to grow in alkaline clay, but it often has the drawback of the crown pushing up above the soil line. If this happens, it's critical that you raise the mulch line correspondingly. Every spring and fall, I apply slow-release organic fertilizer, e.g. Yum Yum Mix, Lady Bug or Medina Growin Green, followed by a top dressing of good compost (I prefer homemade), and finally a thick layer of shredded bark mulch. This ritual seems to maintain soil tilth, which keeps the ferns happy. In the meantime, if you notice the crowns growing taller, it's time to add more mulch.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 6:26PM
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