Monday, 18 June 2012

Versatile Ferns

Ferns are one of the most ancient and interesting plants on the planet. As I have discovered they can be quite a  versatile garden plant too. We have a fernery at the side of the house with ferns in pots and hanging baskets as well as planted directly in the ground. Being on the southern side of the house it is in shade for most of the day and the ground stays quite cool and damp even on the hottest of days. The conditions are ideal for ferns - a little too ideal - We are in the process of digging out some of the ferns that are overcrowding their neighbours. I'm hoping to transplant them to other parts of the garden.

Quite a few ferns are thriving in various parts of the garden.

 As you would expect, the Australian tree fern Cynathea cooperii  does well in our area. Eventually I'm hoping these will become tall enough to provide shade for ferns to grow under them.

Already, there are some in a hollow log in this garden.

Maidenhair fern (Adiantum spp) is well known as an indoor plant but grows happily in the ground both in my fernery and in the garden.

In fact, I have more success with maidenhair in the ground than in pots of hanging baskets. The soil doesn't dry out as fast and if I forget to water no harm is done.
It likes shade and moisture and needs protection from wind.

Drynaria rigidula

Drynaria rigidula 'whitei'

Basket or oak leaf ferns have two types of leaves - the typical  long green frond and a flat brown lraf that forms around the edge of the basket. It will do well in a basket or in the fork of a tree.
Drynaria rigidula ‘whitei” with it's fine frilly fronds is one of my favourites.
Polypodium formosanum
 This catapillar fern is growing so well in the ground it needs to be divided and moved. I'll probably put some in a hanging basket and some in the ground where it can spread.

Aspenium Australasicum
Birds Nest Ferns are quite adaptable as well. They grow well in pots, in the ground as as epiphytes in trees.

Angiopteris evecta

This is a new aquisition - a King Fern - definitely one to be planted in the ground. It will grow much taller than I am so I've given it heaps of room.

Selanginella Unicinata
Another reasonably recent purchase was this electric fern - named because the fronds have a irredescent bluish green glow. I bought a special pot on a stand for this pampered plant to spill over. It's sitting on the back patio though because I still haven't decided on the right place for it.

I've planted out quite a few under the shade of the golden cane palms and at the moment placing bromeliads and other shade lovers in pots in amongst them. This is where I think the electric fern probably belongs.

Some of them have quite a deal of growing yet to reach their mature size. They are just babies.

In case you think ferns need to be pampered and are too much work. These have self seeded at the edge of the dry creek bed. The top group actually are in full sun for much of the day with the only ill effect the occasional sunburn.
These came up through the pavers like weeds.

So many interesting shapes and forms - no wonder I love them.


  1. Oh I love all your ferns, and so clever to know the names of them all. A lot of mine are suffering now with the sun on them more. Hopefully they adapt and survive.

    1. Gillian, I did research on some websites to find the scientific names.
      Hopefully I got them all correct.

  2. Hi Missy, we have a lot of some of them too, and they just grow anywhere during the rainy season, but none to see during the dry season. I wonder how different your Asplenium is from our Asplenium nidus, to me they look the same. We also have drynaria, maidenhair, silaginella, polypodium, except maybe your first one because its name definitely is Australian, haha! I love drynaria growing voluntarily on the cycas trunks but those little species as weeds are sometimes difficult to get off.

  3. Fantastic photos Missy! I love ferns, could easily get into collecting loads of it given the space and time. They are such versatile plants that blends in well with most types of gardening (bar arid I suppose, although there are rockery ferns too). Ferns are indispensable in our garden as they look so exotic (even native ferns) and greatly contributes to the jungle effect.

    Wish we could grow more Cyatheas but I'm happy enough that at least Dicksonia antarctica are hardy enough in our garden :) Lovely!

  4. A lovely collection - thanks for showing them. Different species to the ones that are hardy here in SW England but the effects are the same in the generation of a lush, jungly feel to the garden. Some of yours I've even grown as houseplants in the UK. Which reminds me - I must pick up a bird's nest fern and try it in my little shade house.


I would love to know what you think and appreciate your comments.


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