Gardens - Shade Gardens

Help your ferns thrive

Shade and shelter are ideal for these low-maintenance beauties

The cool, refreshing quality of ferns, coupled with their ornate, dissected fronds, makes them ideal candidates for woodland, water and rock gardens, underneath trees and shrubs, and shady sites where few flowering plants will grow.

Follow these tips to help yours thrive.

Soil
The majority of the ferns we grow in our gardens prefer moist, slightly acidic soil in partly shaded conditions that mimic their native woodland habitats. Before planting, amend the soil by digging in plenty of organic matter, such as leaf mould, compost, peat moss or composted manure, to a depth of 20 centimetres. Ferns with an indefinite spread may become invasive given favourable growing conditions, though, so consider your site before putting shovel to soil.

Planting
Make the planting holes roomy enough so roots and rhizomes can be spread apart without crowding. Set plants at their previous depth and backfill with soil; water in well. Add a four-centimetre layer of mulch (shredded leaves or bark chips) to conserve moisture and deter weeds.

Maintenance
Ferns have few diseases or pests, though slugs and snails can sometimes appear. Apply slow-release organic fertilizers in early summer if soil fertility is low. Avoid fast-release nitrogen fertilizers.

Click here for a list of easy-care ferns.

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