Show #27/5301. Plant Selections And Care For Shade Gardens
Some Ferns Will Thrive In "Sunny" Locations
There are a few ferns that will work, not necessarily, in full sun but in sunnier areas. What are some that Jim would recommend? Probably the three best ferns for sun are going to be Autumn Fern, it will take a lot of sun and has beautiful new growth in the spring of the year. Another fern is Southern Shield Fern. It will grow in full sun. Another fern that Jim uses a lot is the Japanese Painted Fern. Many don't realize that ferns can take full sun. The embankment on the south side of the manor house includes Japanese Painted Ferns and they do beautifully there. And of course the burgundy stem is pulled out if you put a Japanese dissectum lace leaf maple next to it. A great combination. So those are the three that do best for sun. There is no question there are fewer sun loving ferns but there are many, many, many varieties of ferns that grow in the shade.
And ferns, for the most part, are pretty easy to grow. But we do need to keep in mind the correct growing conditions. If you have a compacted, shady area that is full of tree roots and there is not enough compost or not enough moisture then ferns are going struggle. But basically we need an area that is compost rich along with plenty of moisture. In this area it is high shade with under story trees. Jim lets all the leaves fall, then in the spring, like March, they come in with a weed eater and just weed eat everything to the ground to make sure it is neat which allows the ferns to come through. If ferns have enough nutrients all year, and that is compost, it will provide plenty of nitrogen to the ferns and that will be all they need, they will need nothing further, there is no fertilization. That is what they do at Gibbs Gardens. They clean them up one time in March, take out dead sticks, just the big sticks. Little sticks compost. If a big limb is in here they remove those to make it look tidier but ferns are low maintenance. No doubt about it, not much involved with ferns.
By Dan Heims, president of Terra Nova Nurseries
Photographs courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries
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