Monday, January 31, 2011


There are many oak trees shading My Garden Path.  Dappled sunlight filtering through the branches is the perfect environment  for most ferns. 

I am pleased to find this Bird's Nest Fern, Asplenium nidus, has made it through the winter unscathed by any cold damage.  Plans are to add more of this fern in the coming year. 

New fronds are so pretty as they unfurl from the center of the plant.  The acidic soil here under the oaks is agreeing well with my Bird's Nest fern.

This pot of Rabbit's Foot Fern, Davallia fejeensis, sits at the edge of the tree canopy getting bright light but no direct sun.  The "feet" are completely enveloping the pot.  This is a heavy pot.  The cold weather seems to agree with this fern as it has more fronds during winter than during the summer.

Oh yes, I did.  I planted Asparagus Fern, Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri', on purpose.  I have been digging it up ever since and it won't go away.  It looks nice as a backdrop for a bromeliad but it's a constant battle to keep it from taking over the entire planting bed.  This is a fern on the list of plants to not add in the coming year.

Here is an example of a naturally occuring fern.  Resurrection Fern, Polypodium polypodioides, is attached to several of the oak trees in the front yard.  Rain gives it life and green color.  Dry weather causes it to curl up and turn brown until the next drops of moisture come along.  I hope this fern continues to spread over the trunks of these trees.  It gives a very woodsy, natural Florida appearance to the garden. 

Without a doubt, Leatherleaf fern, Rumohra adiantiformis, is my favorite fern.  It holds up well in the cold weather as long as it is under the tree cover.  A clump which lives in a more open area shows some frost damage on the tips but otherwise it sails through freezing temperatures.  This fern makes a great background for bromeliads.  It spreads by rhizomes but not invasively.  The leaves work well in flower arrangements and last a long time in a vase.

Holly Fern, Cyrtomium falcatum, is the most cold hardy of all the ferns here along the path.  Only two were planted last year and they have held up well through the heat of summer and the cold of winter.  These are slowly increasing in a clumping fashion.  Very slowly.  The plan is to add many more of these ferns. 

A fiddlehead of the Australian Tree Fern, Cyathea cooperi, is unfurling now that we've had warmer weather.  This is a small specimen that only stands about a foot tall and doesn't yet have a trunk.  This is one of the few plants I cover if freezing temperatures are forecast.  It is under quite a bit of tree cover so it may be all right without the extra care but I'm not ready to take a chance on it this year. 

Ferns are a great filler for my shady garden.  It's been great to find that several do very well during cold weather.  They may be more of a background plant during other times of the year, but during winter they shine as they keep the color green in the garden. 


  1. Hi Kay...I love ferns and you have some really nice ones. The leatherleaf I got from you is doing well. I planted some of the foxtail asparagus fern...I hope they are not like the regular asparagus fern which was already here when I arrived. Round up won't even kill it. The holly fern is one of my favorites. I'm always surprised at how cold hardy ferns are. I have a large potted plant on the front porch that I never bring in.

  2. You have a great fern collection, NanaK! I really love the cold-resistant bird's nest ferns and must remember to plant more this year. I lived in a home at one time where I inherited asparagus fern, and it was pretty impossible to remove. Your rabbit's foot is a beautiful specimen!

  3. aloha,

    wow you have quite a collection of ferns, i have alot too, but they tend to be the invasive types that no-one wants here :( love the birds nest, i've seen them growing wild on the trees in many of the jungles here also.

  4. I have serious love for Holly Fern.Years ago I made the mistake of planting Asparagus Fern.It tyook me years and lots of Round-Up to finally get rid of it.That experience has since made me reluctant to plant any type of asparagus fern.

  5. Oh, I love your collection of ferns and the way they are showing up this winter for you. All the textures and variation of foliage, heights, and form ~~ love, love. They are fabulous plants. Your tree fern will really take off this year and be happy tucked deep into the tree cover. I inherited a rabbits foot fern last year from my dad and need to place it somewhere so it can be happy like yours.

    The holly fern is by far a favorite for its durability but it is a SUPER-slow grower. I have split up lots of them to spread around the garden but patience is imperative waiting on them to fill out. I've just added a 'native' fern to my collection ~~leather fern Acrostichum danaeifolium ~~ can't wait to see how it performs.

  6. What a great collection of ferns you have. I HATE asparagus ferns. I found and brought some home from along an ally years and years ago. I wouldn't mind them IF they didn't have those horrible THORNS. Plus they multiply something fierce and you can hardly dig up all the dang tubers.

    I need to take pictures of the ferns that I do have so that maybe you or others can tell me what I have.

    I love resurrection fern and have some growing on our Norfolk pine tree.

    Thanks for a lovely viewing of your nice fern collection.


  7. Oh no you didn't! You planted asparagus fern on purpose? :D We've all been there with one invasive or another... I love your fern profiles, especially the birds nest fern, which I just blogged about last night! It grows well in zone 8 too. :)

  8. Just should come see the Kiwi Fern that I posted today from my neighbor's garden, bet you will love it, I do.

  9. Aren't ferns beautiful plants? I love their old-fashioned appeal. You are blessed to have shade to keep them happy. Enjoy!

  10. Susan - Oh, I am glad the leatherleaf is doing well for you. I really like the cold hardy ferns and am always looking to add more.

    Floridagirl - That rabbit's foot fern looks great this time of year, but in the summer it may only have one or two fronds on it. It is just all "feet."

    Noel - I hear you on the invasive ferns. I have some sword fern in addition to that asparagus fern and it just wants to take over. I'm learning which ferns to add and which to take away.

    ChrisC - I have a hard time finding the holly fern. I only have one nursery near me that carries it. I wish it were more available.

    Meems - The rabbit's foot fern from your dad must be very special to you. Just don't be worried when it goes dormant in the warmer weather. It thrives in the winter. I almost got rid of mine but procrastination paid off and I learned that it just grows in cycles.

    I'll be eager to hear about your leather fern. I so wish there were a closer nursery carrying natives.

    FlowerLady - I know what you mean about the thorns on the asparagus ferns! I thought it such a pretty fern and I loved the red berries it would get in winter. Then it took over and yanking it out has proven to be quite the task.

    RFG - Loved your post on the bird's nest. I only wish more ferns were available without going to specialty garden centers.

    Darla - Love the kiwi fern. I envy you having Mrs. Doris Three Doors Down.

    Daisy - Thanks for stopping by. I'm learning that there are many plants for shade. I used to think I couldn't grow anything under the oaks. Why I ever thought that I don't know. Now I love having my shady garden.

  11. NannaK, Your ferns look great, enjoy your garden this weekend it is going to be just perfect. Janis


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