Because the foliage on common, full-size varieties discolors in late summer, I prefer the smaller cultivars selected by European enthusiasts over the last century. Plentiful rainfall and excellent drainage are the key to growing these ferns, so a west-facing old stone wall is ideal in mimicking the scree of the rocky.
The latter is an ideal feed for ferns in containers. It would be a mistake, though, to think that all ferns need shade. However, gardeners in the mid-19th century did more than just include them as garden plants and built 'ferneries' to accommodate them, sometimes by carving stony hollows into north-facing banks and planting them with as many different ferns as they could, amid gently running water.
The dense shade found beneath heavily foliated Norway maples or the lee of evergreens is inhospitable to many woodland plants. They may wilt and go dormant, but, if established, are likely to revive when rain returns in fall. Most Popular. Avoid planting sites with shallow soils that tend to dry out quickly.
Most ferns, however, are thankfully not as rampantly invasive as bracken and shun the limelight, if not the light itself. You agree to receive occasional updates and special offers for The New York Times's products and services. I might contrast a finely cut fern with a large, solid hosta, or place a spiky bugbane behind a few horizontally spreading ferns.
Shop the Store View All. It is one of the few plants that will be perfectly happy planted hard against the walls of a building, which is against all the normal rules of planting. Ferns thrive in bogs, marshes, moist woods, along rocky slopes.
Ferns growing in full sun can turn a sickly yellow - dappled shade will help preserve the rich green of the fronds. It has a distinctively bushy habit; soft, green fronds; and tiny leaflets lining its dark, wiry stems. However, it is not cheap.
A garden site of natural or artificial soil pockets separated one from the other is ideally suited to including different fern species having a variety of soil preferences. Add organic matter in generous quantities to a depleted soil to achieve a well drained, moisture retaining media. Most ferns do not need any fertiliser other than a mulch of leaf mould or a weak liquid seaweed solution. The bulblet fern Cystopteris bulbifera has light green, intricately incised fronds up to three feet in length.
I have one in the dry, north-facing corner of two walls, and it seems very comfortable there. Since the borders are only a few feet wide, I use the larger plants singly as specimens—otherwise they threaten to overwhelm the garden visually. Thank you for subscribing. As a finishing touch, I allow low-growing ground covers—like creeping phlox—to spread between larger plants, thus knitting the composition together.
The fronds mature to light green, but new pink fronds continue to emerge intermittently throughout the summer.