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Why don't more people grow ferns?

10 years ago

Posted by Matt Schwartz: In my opinion, ferns get little or
no respect from most gardeners. Most people don't want to
waste their time with fern names, culture, etc. I think
gardeners need to treat ferns as any other garden plant, and
learn to properly ID them, other than 'it came from my
neighbor's backyard.'It's hard to discuss ferns when you
don't know what it is.

Grace (PA/Zone 6): Matt, as someone with a backyard that is
1/2 shade, I love ferns! I bought this house two years ago
and am still trying to identify some of the ferns planted
here. I'm amazed at the way they grow via spores. And
nothing cheers up a porch like some huge ferns in hanging
baskets (which I have been able to winter over - don't just
compost them!)

Lynn Hansen: I use ferns as an accent plant to the rounded
foliage of hostas. I especially like Japanese Painted ferns
with their deep foliage help bring out the color in plain
leafed hostas.

Brigitte: We have a spot full of ferns where they are
sheltered and they grow up to 5ft tall. Ours are the river
ferns (native). In the spring you can actually eat the
fiddle heads. You steam them just like you would asparagus.

Betty (calz10-Sunsetz17): I have some ferns (Japanese
Painted Ferns) I want to increase/multiply. I've checked all
my gardening books, but not one says how to propagate ferns.
So what does one do when one wishes to increase one's
species ferns?

Matthew Schwartz: Some ferns spread by rizhomes, others by
runners, others by a variety of methods. Generally speaking,
you will always use vegetative means of propagation to
retain the desired characteristics, never sexual
propagation. For the painted fern, the only vegetative
method is division. However, other ferns reproduce in a
multitude of interesting ways: Spore,Bulbils on frond,
plantlets on tip of frond, runners, rhizomes. A good example
of a bulbil producing fern is the proliferous shield fern
[Polystichum setiferum 'proliferum'] It multiplies
phenomenally, developing numerous plantlets from bulbils at
each pinnae axis, which then grow when contact with soil is

Skip MNZ4: I don't know much about it but I have tried both
spring and fall. Also in between. Maidenhair Fern was
divided and moved in the spring just before the little
crosiers started to appear and they did fine. I have divided
and moved Royal Fern, Cinnamon Fern, Interrupted Fern and
Ostrich Fern in the middle of summer; Japanese Painted Fern
and Sensitive fern in the fall and they, too, did fine. If
they are healthy plants and you give them adequate water
they will be fine.

Stephen Nyikos: I would recommend spring unless you can be
sure to mulch them so they don't heave during the
freeze/thaw cycle. Either is OK. Guess it's the chocolate
vanilla decision. ;)