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nkm56

Tennessee Ostrich

nkm56
14 years ago

I picked up a bag of bare-root Tenneessee Ostrich ferns at Walmart a few weeks ago, and planted them in pots so they would be up and growing well before I plant them near my pond. However, a week and a half has passed and I'm seeing no signs of life. Does it typically take this type of fern a while to start coming up, or am I just out of luck?

I'm keeping them in a sunny window for warmth (the bag instructions said they like sun), and keeping the soil moist but not wet. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Comments (48)

  • Iris GW
    14 years ago

    They do emerge later than others. But I'm also not terribly confident in the quality of "bagged, bare-root" plants from Wal-mart. Be sure to save your receipt and give then another 3 weeks or so. The fact that you have them indoors should cause them to sprout faster than they would outside anyway.

  • nkm56
    Original Author
    14 years ago

    thanks for the response. The price was quite cheap, which probably should have been a red flag, but I had been looking for this type of fern for a while, so I grabbed it and hoped for the best. I guess you get what you pay for.

    Anyway, I was looking at them again this evening, and there seems to be a bit of curled green stem rising up from under the soil in a couple of them, so maybe there is hope!

  • nkm56
    Original Author
    14 years ago

    At last! Signs of life! Stems and leaves poking up through the potting soil. Looks like they're going to be great looking plants.

  • Iris GW
    14 years ago

    Hooray, I'm glad to hear that.

  • osmund
    14 years ago

    The ferns I've seen advertised as Tennessee ostrich are actually Diplazium (Athyrium) pycnocarpon. Give them a little time yet. If you don't see any activity by the middle of May, they're a lost cause.

  • fernzilla
    14 years ago

    Hey Nancy:

    I also purchased three bags of Tennessee Ostrich ferns from Walmart. They took almost two months before any sign of life. They have began sprouting, but most still haven't done anything. Out of 3 packages 7 roots in each, I only have 5 coming up.

  • greenlarry
    14 years ago

    Glad to hear they're doing well!
    So Tennessee Ostrich are different to the usual ostrich fern we know of?

  • tina76_snet_net
    11 years ago

    I bought two bags of 4 roots each today. I was looking to incorporate them into my landscape and possibly have a few fiddleheads to feast on next spring. The bag says "Grown from cultivated stock. Not for consumption." Are these roots not true ostrich ferns with edible fiddleheads? Help! I want to return them if I can't eat the fiddleheads.

  • wtesto
    11 years ago

    Its hard to tell what they are until they fully unfurl and you can get a good look at them. If it is not Ostrich Fern (Matteucia struthiopteris) then I probably wouldn't eat it. A lot of ferns are carcinogenic, and you probably don't want to risk it. True Ostrich Ferns are thought to be safe. If Tennessee Ostrich Ferns are actually Diplazium pycnocarpon (Narrow-leaved Spleenwort) then I wouldn't eat them. Also, you might want to wait until the plants get established before harvesting the fiddleheads. Most ferns won't produce additional leaves for that year if their fiddleheads are harvested! I hope I didn't dissapoint you, but I just wanted to give you a fair heads up!

    Good luck and send pictures so we can ID them!

  • linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)
    7 years ago

    Funny, I bought some a week ago. This thread turned up on Google when I wanted to check the size. Maybe 5 or 6 years ago I bought 3 "different" kinds of ferns from Walmart. All turned out to be the same one, a low growing prostrate kind. I'm hoping for better this time around. I got some bare root bleeding hearts last year that were just great, so it gave me hope their vendors are more reliable now. I can tell you their dahlias are good.

  • linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)
    7 years ago

    ijustlikebirds , if you are still following, I opened mine to plant today. And they are not Ostrich ferns. All are the same kind that I found mislabelled some years ago, Chrismas ferns (which sounds nicer than they look). I'm happy with my bleeding hearts from Walmart, but won't be buying any more ferns from them.

  • cynthiakern
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    ijustlikebirds, how do you know they are Christmas ferns? I, too, bought the "Tennessee Ostrich Ferns" from Walmart with great hopes to cover a dark, blank area. You mentioned that customer service from the fern company said it is Matteuccia struthiopteris. Now I'm confused about what I have!

  • Atlamol
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Like, somebody pick a single frond, flatten it out, and send a picture so it can be identified. Diplazium looks a lot like Christmas fern (Polystichum) at first glance (but the pinnae do not have the the "Christmas stocking" shape). Ostrich fern (Matteuccia) looks very different from either. Include a close up of an individual pinna (leaflet).

  • evinird
    7 years ago




    Bought the "Tennessee Fern" from Walmart like what had been discussed. About 2 months of struggling to grow it. Kept sprouting but kept dying. Finally worked when I would heavily water, with good drainage, ever 2-3 days. But they've pretty much stayed this height for a couple of weeks. May need more sunlight. But heavy watering every couple of days. Unsure what they actually are though. Anyone know?

  • Atlamol
    7 years ago

    The pinnae have a little "toe" on them like a Christmas stocking. If I saw those plants in the wild, anyplace in the eastern USA, I would call them Christmas fern, no hesitation, would not even think about anything else. That fern, at least in my part of the world, seems to grow or at least survive in almost any kind of well drained not-too-acid soil that has some organic matter in it. But It's not a wetland plant, you don't find it in swamps and peatlands.


  • linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)
    7 years ago

    I returned the batch I bought this year, that were not Ostrich Ferns. The Christmas ferns from a few years back took some time to grow really well. But even so, they do not have the upright form I was looking for: rather they are prostrate and you can't really see them behind the hostas.

  • Atlamol
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Near as I can make out (and as Osmund said some years ago) this "Tennessee Ostrich fern" appears to be a BS cobbled up name for glade fern, Diplazium (or Athyrium) pycnocarpon. Nice clump forming fern, not as tall as real ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), prefers limestone soils (at least in my part of the world). There is a closely related and similar looking fern in Asia, Diplazium esculentum, that is edible. At first glance, Diplazium and Christmas fern look a lot alike. I can picture some poor non-botanist who is picking or packing these plants being confused. I don't think the people who sell these ferns have any idea what they have. Try looking the subject up on line and you get a lot of mislabeled pictures and misplaced names. I would be curious to see a prostrate form of Christmas fern, you might be just seeing the sterile leaves which do droop a bit. The fertile fronds are more upright.

  • evinird
    7 years ago

    I must agree with atlamol. After doing some research on the leaf shape, it does resemble a Christmas fern more so than the Tennessee ostrich fern. The leaf has the little hump that a Christmas fern has. I still plan to let it grow. I will post more pictures once it starts to develop more so we can have a clear answer haha.

  • weedlady
    7 years ago

    The lesson to
    be taken from this thread is DON'T buy plants at
    Wal-mart if you want to be sure of both healthy plants and a specific
    genus/species!! For heaven's sake, go to a real nursery where they know
    what they are doing or purchase from a <I>good,
    reputable</I> mail order nursery!

  • linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    No nurseries around here sell ferns except for japanese painted ferns (which I have bought, and often). Perhaps you are lucky, weedlady, you must have good nurseries around you. Mine sell nothing but same old, same old at prices that would buy me a tank full of gas. I have had nothing but bad experiences buying online (tiny plants and/or half-dead plants at high prices). So, in my defense, it is easy to be tempted. Except for the ferns, I have had no complaints thus far about buying the packaged plants: the dahlias and bleeding heart were all what they were supposed to be.

    But I have no hesitation to return something that is not what it is advertised.

  • weedlady
    7 years ago

    I do have a number of native plant nurseries not too far from me in central Ohio, but I have only purchased prairie plants. I collected the ferns I have from our woods and have Christmas, marginal and at least one other wood fern, lots of ostrich, a few maidenhair, interrupted, and cinnamon ferns. I have had excellent results with various mail-ordered plants from Jung, though I never have bought ferns. Jung has ostrich ferns $6.95 each - a lot cheaper than a tank of gas, and boy, do these ferns spread. Or you can get 5 native ferns for $28.95: One each of Lady(11708), Clayton(11752), Cinnamon(11750), Ostrich(11770) and Maidenhair(11704). All are bare root crowns.

    I just Googled "Illinois native plant nurseries" and there are LOTS. Surely there is one not too far from you! http://grandprairiefriends.org/nurseries.php Good luck.

  • lawson_nancy
    6 years ago

    I dig these ferns to sell. The ones I have planted at my home I just put on ground and throw a little dirt on them and they always come up. If they don`t make it the first year they`ll be up the next one.

  • carbiebash
    6 years ago

    The ones they sell at Walmart called the Tennesse Ostrich fern is not the same as the true Ostrich fern They are the Diplazium Pycnocarpon or commonly called a glade fern

    This link explains it.

    http://www.perennialreference.com/ferns/diplazium.html


  • linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)
    6 years ago

    All I know is that I bought these twice at my Walmart, and twice they were Christmas fern. Definitely had the little heel on each pinnae, shaped like a christmas stocking. That Diplazium pycnocarpon is attractive, I would not have minded if they were that.

  • weedlady
    6 years ago

    Anyone interested in accurately-labeled, healthy plants should not shop for them at Wally World. I wonder also the source - wild-crafted or sustainably raised in a nursery? I doubt that Christmas fern is anywhere near endangered, but still... just sayin'.

  • linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    As I said before, I will not try ferns there again. The bleeding heart were very good, to the point where I have bought more 3 years in a row. So you can't assume everything is bad.

  • weedlady
    6 years ago

    The white bleeding heart that was in my garden when we moved in 8 years ago self-sows. Having transplanted around the yard as many as I wanted, now I give the seedlings away.

  • abc1971
    6 years ago

    Well, this is disappointing. I was at Walmart the other day and I picked up a few bags of these ferns. After bringing them home I decided to do a Google search to see what I needed to do to provide them with the best conditions to grow them and give them what they need. And then I found this thread as my very first search result.

    I was specifically looking for a fern that grows four feet or a little taller. I already have a bunch of Christmas ferns, Lady ferns, and Japanese and Autumn ferns. They are shorter and I needed something in the back that's taller.


    Here is a photo of the packaging. Does this look like what other people have purchased? Because other people in this thread mentioned that they tried putting their ferns in sun while growing them indoors. But the packaging right on the bottom specifically says partial to full shade. So I'm wondering, and hoping, that things have been improved and that I have taller ferns that it will suit my needs.

    The company is Van Zyverden.

  • weedlady93
    6 years ago

    Wal-Mart, eh? Hm... First of all, I am wondering where you live (state/zone) that Wal-Mart already is selling packaged plants! That said, the photo does show ostrich ferns. If you are trying to get them started in the house, the term "full sun" does not apply. Put them in your sunniest window after pre-soaking the roots and planting in a suitable pot & let 'em go.

    Are the plants still completely dormant or are they showing signs of life? If you are in the deep South, maybe it's OK if they have broken dormancy; anywhere else, I'd keep them somewhere (like the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator!) to keep them dormant for a while yet until you can soak them overnight (I add a seaweed growth enhancer when soaking bare-root plants prior to planting) and plant them where you want them.

    In parting, I reiterate my earlier advice: Wal-Mart is not where I would go for plants if accurate labeling and a viable plant are what you are looking for. :-)

  • Atlamol
    6 years ago

    That picture shows ostrich fern. The leaflets (pinnae) are serrated (the technical word is pinnatifid). The pinnae on glade fern and Christmas fern don't have that serrated edge. You can look it up. I don't know why they stick that word "Tennessee" on these plants. Some kind of dodge no doubt.

  • weedlady93
    6 years ago

    Also Christmas fern is evergreen (hence, no doubt, part of the reason for the name - the other reason I have heard is because the pinnae resemble Christmas stockings...hmm), whereas ostrich fern dies back completely over winter. Ostrich fern does get a good 3 feet or more high, so should be just what abc1971 is looking for as a background plant.

  • linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)
    6 years ago

    Don't rely on the photo, abc1971. The ones I bought at Walmart also had a nice picture on the package. What was inside was not that, though. I didn't have to wait for them to grow to check, though. On the dormant roots I found plenty of brown last years' fronds still attached. I could tell right away that they were not the feathery "pinnatifid" kind, but the leathery christmas fern. If they had been pinnatifid, I would have kept them regardless.

    I think there is a possibility that what is packed inside could vary regionally, though.

  • timhensley
    5 years ago

    I've never had any luck buying prepackaged bulbs and plants from Wal Mart. That includes peonies, iris, daffodils, etc. that being said I am no longer tempted by their bargains because it's almost always turned out to be a disappointment.

  • linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)
    5 years ago

    I've done fine with some things. I wonder if they have different suppliers regionally. Their dahlias have been great in particular. I always buy as soon as they show up on the shelves, make sure they are not dry, and store them in my cool basement until I'm ready to start them indoors.

  • Ginny Thomas
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I purchased 2 bags of the exact fern last Spring from Walmart. ..impulse buy. Bag said 3 roots in each and that is what I planted in my pots. They grew fast and then I transplanted to shade flower garden. All 6 lived and kept getting fuller all Summer. Anxious to see how they survived their first winter. (Virginia Beach 7B). (Ferns on other side of fence)

  • Jamie Colvard
    5 years ago

    I bought Tennessee,Ostrich and Christmas at Walmart 3 weeks ago. All 12 are coming up. I have them planted between my 4 pecan trees and there is an underground spring down there in the front of my yard. I'm so excited! It does appear that I lost 2 of my 4 bleeding heart ferns this winter that I bought at Walmart 3 years ago. Headed there to get another bag of those.


  • linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)
    5 years ago

    Curious, Ginny and Jamie, what kinds your turn out to be. Ginny, behind the fence I can't see enough details. Just that something is back there.


    Jamie, you got ones that were labelled Tennessee Ostrich AND Christmas? Because my "Tennessee Ostrich" were definitely Christmas, both times.

  • Ginny Thomas
    5 years ago

    linnea56 .. the bag I bought is labled tennessee ostrich fern. I still have the wrapper in my plant files. I took a picture of the fern today since they survived the winter. See pic... To me, it doesn't matter what it is, ...it lived and is a fern :-)

  • weedlady93
    5 years ago

    Definitely not a Christmas fern, but it doesn't look like Matteuccia struthiopteris . Ostrich fern Watch
    for the fruiting fronds this year. If there are none, but the back of the mature leaves have sori (the little bumps that produce the spores), it is not ostrich but likely one of the wood ferns (Dryopteris spp.).

  • Atlamol
    5 years ago

    Might be Deparia acrostichoides, "silvery glade fern".

  • weedlady93
    5 years ago

    Nope. Compare Ginny's photo to Silvery Glade Fern

  • Atlamol
    5 years ago

    What other fern has that kind of silvery pubescence?

  • rosek
    5 years ago

    I too, bought a bag of Tennessee Ostrich Fern at Walmart this winter. The label looks just like the one pictured in this thread. I planted them in pots and put them outside. They all came up in due time, but they look like Christmas Fern. Works for me.


  • rosek
    5 years ago

    Just looked up Diplazium pynocarpum and I believe that is what it is. Known as TN Ostrich Fern, Narrow Leaf Spleenwort, and Narrow leaf Glade Fern. Very good picture and description here: http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/grasses/plants/glade_fern.htm

  • rosek
    5 years ago

    Misspelled name - should be Diplazium pynocarpon

  • linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)
    5 years ago

    What the re-emergence of this thread periodically tells me is that the vendor will put any old fern in a bag and call it "Tennessee Ostrich Fern". The two times I bought multiple bags they were supposed to be 3 different kinds of ferns, including maidenhair. In each case, all bags contained Christmas Fern. Rosek, that Diplazium pynocarpon is prettier than Christmas fern, so it's good that you got something you like.


    Though the vendor name is the same on all their bare-roots, the vendor must have suppliers / growers that differ.


    I could NOT be happier with the Bleeding heart roots I bought from them! I needed a lot and it was very cost effective, and they are magnificent right now! Great to have a plant that shows up and blooms before the hostas in that "woodland" bed come into their own.


    I bought a new one, Astilbe Chocolate Kiss. I have not planted them yet, so it remains to be seen if they are what they are and if they will perform.

  • rosek
    5 years ago

    The picture on the package is wrong, but the correct fern was inside. I do wish they would put the Latin name on the package. It's the only way to really identify plants. I bought a bag pf sea holly at the same time and that did have Eryngium on the label.