Ferns

Planting: Ferns are very easy to grow, as long as they are planted in the right spot.  They prefer an area in full to partial shade, as sun can burn and mar the fronds.  Plant in a moist, well-drained location in soil that is neutral to slightly alkaline.  Work the soil well to a depth of 12 inches or more, adding compost to help aerate the soil.  Raising the bed about 3” higher than the surrounding soil will also help promote drainage.  Ferns must not be planted too deep – the crown should be right at ground level.  After planting, apply a thick layer of mulch to retain moisture, but be sure to keep it away from the crown or rot could be a problem.

Watering: Keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season.  Try to water only the base of the plant, keeping the fronds dry to prevent problems with insects or disease.  Soaker hoses do an excellent job.

Pests: Inspect your plants regularly.  You want to be on the lookout for insects like aphids, scale, mealybugs or thrips.  If the fronds are browning, yellowing or dying, it may be an indication of insects or fungus.  A regular spray of insecticidal soap and fungicide should take care of any problems.

Dividing: You can increase your ferns by dividing them periodically to spread throughout your garden.  Dividing also helps the fern maintain its symmetry and keeps it in bounds.  Dig up the plants in spring and early summer.  Cut the roots into sections, taking care to include a piece of the crown with each.  Replant each crown in prepared soil, level with the soil surface.

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