Crow Dog Native Ferns and Gardens
Landscape Design with Native Ferns
Landscaping With Native Ferns Fern Ecology Habitat Conditions
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Landscape Design with Native Ferns

The ideal sources of design ideas for native ferns are native habitats of individual species and groups of fern species. Choose sites in the garden that meet most of the needs of the individual species and/or create conditions that are appropriate. The large number of native fern species and the variety of their ecologies offer many design possibilities. The placement of ferns in gardens (aside from ecological needs outlined on the Ecology and Habitat Conditions Page is largely dependent on size of mature ferns, rhizome habits, morphology of fronds, color, and on whether species are deciduous or evergreen.

Accent Plantings

Large ferns, such as Silvery Glade Fern, Narrow Glade Fern, Cinnamon Fern, Interrupted Fern, Southern Lady Fern, Goldie's Wood Fern, Marginal Wood Fern, and Mountain Wood Fern have ascending or errect rhizomes and are very good accent and background plants.

Border Ferns

Christmas Fern, Marginal Wood Fern, and Fancy Fern are medium size evergreen ferns that are excellent borders along paths and along edges of larger plant areas or woodlands. They do not spread but slight expand each year.

Ground Covers

Long rhizomous ferns, such as Northern Maidenhair, New York Fern, Broad Beech Fern, Hay-scented Fern, Sensitive Fern, and Netted Chain Fern creep at various rates to form luxurious ground covers. Mixtures of these species, that are compatible ecologically, make excellent multi-textured ground covers.

Rock Garden Ferns

Marginal Wood Fern, Wooly and Hairy Lip Ferns, Aspleniums, Fancy Fern, Ressurrection Ferns, Blunt-lobed Woodsia, and Goldies Wood Fern are frequently found in nature growing around and on rocks. They also are appropriate for planting in crevices and holes in rock walls that are vertical or sloped.

Water Feature Ferns

Damp to wet garden areas, such as created or natural ponds, low areas that collect and hold moisture, stream banks, and bogs are ideal for Christmas Fern, Cinnamon Fern, Royal Fern, Sensitive Fern, Netted Chain Fern, New York Fern, Silvery Glade Fern and narrow Glade Fern. A general rule of thumb is: With higher perrenial moisture and more full sun hours, these ferns thrive and attain maximum size. The two exceptions are Silvery Glade Fern and Narrow Glade Fern that require mostly dappled shade.

Planting Native Ferns

Many ferns native to the Carolinas can be adapted to home landscapes provided that species used in a particular geographic area can flourish in the weather and soil characteristics of that area. Sowing spores in a garden landscape usually doesn’t produce plants. However, some species that are established in a garden may reproduce from spores naturally. Other species may propagate themselves through vegetative reproduction.

   Ferns are typically transplanted in gardens from container grown plants and from plants removed from their natural habitat (plant rescues and from private land with digging permission). Important factors in transplanting success are:

Transplant only mature ferns (grow immature ferns in containers for about 5 months).

Plant species that are adapted to the geographic region.

Locate the plants in places that nearly replicate the plant’s environmental needs.

Plant at the same depth as in the pot or from the location where the plant was dug.

Assure that the soil has water retaining characteristics (organic matter).

Assure proper soil ph (most native ferns grow in acid soil).

Mulch the plants (preferably with leaves and/or leaf mold.

Keep the soil moist for 2 months after planting to ensure healthy  root growth.

After 2 months, do not allow the soil to dry completely.

Apply 10-10-10 in the spring at the rate of approximately 1 tablespoon per  plant.

Apply  micro-nutrient  at the rate of 1/2 teaspoon  per plant in the spring.

Allow old fronds to remain and decay at the base of the plant.