So you are thinking about planting some ferns around the yard. Well first off good choice, frns make a great low maintenance addition to any yard. They can add some real greenery to any shady spot and can make a otherwise eyesore into a feature. If you live in the right area and pick the right hardy fern, you can have an evergreen plant feature in an otherwise brown winter garden. The main things you need to remember when planting a fern outside are what type of fern to select for your part of the world, planting conditions, and long term care.
If you live in the U.S. check out my post on the best ferns for the different areas of the country. If you live somewhere else you can usually find a site that describes some of the more popular plants for your local climate. For example, staghorns grow very well in the Philippines and Selliguea really thrive in Thailand. Remember, it all really comes down to humidity, temperature, and sun exposure.
Planting conditions and spacing
Speaking of humidity, temperature, and sun exposure the next thing you have to think about when planting a fern outdoors is where are you going to plant it. Lets face it a nice boston fern isn’t going to look great sitting in the middle of the yard surrounded by a bunch of fescue grass. Besides not being really appropriate for that kind of setting the plant would quickly dry out and die. Of all the conditions that you have control over I would say shade is the most important. Once you pick the right spot start digging.
- Make sure the hole is deep enough for the fern’s root ball and about twice as wide to allow for root spread.
- Keep the plants spaced at least 2 feet apart.
- Take special care of the root ball. That is the most important part of the fern planting process.
- After filling in the hole with loose soil give it a thorough watering and spread out some mulch or other ground cover to help keep the soil moist and to discourage weeds.
- Give the new fern a good watering every 3 days or so (you want to make sure the dirt around the plant remains damp but not soggy).
I don’t believe in constantly fertilizing plants but when you are doing an initial plant I do recommend applying some fertilizer for the first few months. Cutting and planting a fern can be hard on the plant so fertilizer helps. I use 2 types of fertilizer depending on the plant. Even though they both look like they are only for palm trees if you read the packaging both are specially formulated for ferns as well. Click on either picture to get them from Amazon.