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Posted by maizeylou nepa (My Page) on
Wed, Jun 17, 09 at 22:06

I live in Monroe county,PA. Our lot is partially wooded and I would like to promote fern growth in that area. I know it needs to be cleaned up - downed branches etc. but I need to know what I can do to encourage the straggly fern we do have to fill in. My searches have only come across growing fern by spore collection. I would appreciate any help you can offer. Thank you.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Ferns

Hi maizeylou,

The best way to encourage your fern growth is to first identify what kind of fern you have growing in your wooded area.

Ferns are usually characterized as clumping ferns or colonizing ferns. It sounds like you have a clumping fern.
Clumping ferns don't naturally create that "carpet of ferns" effect like some other ferns, and mainly grow in scattered clumps.

If the soil your ferns are growing in is rocky or sandy, and well-drained (not too swampy, marsh-like, or boggy) you may have Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides). It grows in the Pocono mountain area and Delaware Water Gap area in rocky, wooded places. Christmas fern is a clumping fern, and does not tolerate clay soils or excessive water.

It could also be a Marginal woodfern (Dryopteris marginalis), which is also a clumping fern.

If you can upload a photo of your fern and post this question on GardenWeb's "Moss, Ferns & Cryptogams" forum at the link below, someone on that forum may be able to help you identify what kind of fern it is. They can also tell you how to best multiply your fern, either by spores or by division. People often multiply clumping ferns like the Christmas fern by division rather than by spores.

If you can't post a photo, just describing the fern and general conditions of your wooded area (rocky and well-drained, boggy, swampy, sandy soil, clay soil, moist humus-rich forest soil, by a stream, etc.) will help with identification.

Identifying the kind of trees the fern is growing under could be helpful as well (mostly conifers like pines, or mostly deciduous trees like oak and maple).

Some other ferns of the Pocono mountain area and Delaware Water Gap area include:

Eastern hayscented fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula)

Lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina)

Sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis)

Royal fern (Osmunda regalis)

Cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)

Northern maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum)

Evergreen Wood Fern (Dryopteris intermedia)

Hope this helps!

Here is a link that might be useful: Moss, Ferns & Cryptogams

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