I love ferns in the shady areas of my garden.  Their foliage acts as a natural green backdrop or is a focal point.  This summer wasn’t kind to my ferns with the lack of rain and extreme heat.  Plus some that were getting ample amounts of shade in years past were getting too much sun this year.  Some of the ferns I managed to move to other areas this summer to keep them from burning up completely.  Others are recovering due to the cooler temperatures this month.  Here are the ferns I have in my garden right now:

Autumn Fern

Autumn Fern

A new addition to my garden this year is Dryopteris erythrosora  or Autumn Fern.  The new leaves are a copper-pink shade that turn green in the summer and change to a orange-brown in the fall.  This fern is evergreen and prefers constant moisture but has withstood some drought in my garden.  In addition it needs a light shade to a full shade area.  I hand water my ferns about twice a week and add tons of compost to this bed which helps retain some moisture after a good rainfall.  This plant has already doubled in size.

Japanese Painted Fern

Japanese Painted Fern

This Japanese Painted Fern has been in my garden for about five years.  It was hit hard by the drought & heat this summer.  I thought I had lost it so I purchased two new ones recently.  This morning I found it had reemerged and looked pretty good.  I love the burgundy stems and the silver tips of this foliage.  This fern prefers constant moisture, light shade to full shade and is deciduous.

Christmas Fern

Christmas Fern

The Christmas Fern has upright &  leathery like leaves.  It also prefers constant moisture and light shade to full shade in the garden.  It is evergreen fern that is native to eastern North America.  These little guys were divided this fall and moved to the new open area under my ‘Limelight’ Hydrangea.  They are very easy to divide, you dig them up & pull apart the rhizome to make new divisions.  Ferns add another layer to the shade garden with their fabulous foliage. What kinds of ferns are in your garden?


12 responses to this post.

  1. I have always loved the Japanese Painted Fern. It is just so pretty. I wish I had more shade in my garden to grow some more shade loving plants like ferns. I envy you! 🙂

    Thanks Cynthia! Another one that I would like to add is the Ghost Fern. Shade is a hard commodity to come by sometimes, I have very little in my own yard. I have mainly part sun or full sun.


  2. My favorite is the Autumn Fern. I have also found it to be very drought tolererant and looks good all year. I have other ferns, but this one is my best.

    I have to agree with you Les, it’s been my best one this year even with the drought. I love that it is evergreen. Thanks for sharing your experience.


  3. I love ferns too. I lost my autumn ferns when they removed the tree. I relocated the holly fern–it’s doing ok. My little maiden hair pass-along is doing great, but the best ferns I have are the wood ferns. Actually they are pass-alongs too from my Mother. They grow around the back of the pond and in other shady areas in back.
    I just wish they were evergreen.

    Unfortunately when a tree is lost it does wreak havoc for the shade loving plants that are residing under it. Looks like you have a few I don’t, I will have to look into building my collection. The pond probably creates an ideal spot for ferns. Maybe you should look at getting some Christmas Ferns, they are evergreen & get quite full & lush in the right conditions.


  4. I love the ferns, but have not had much luck with them-despite having woodland conditions. Urgh! I guess we need more rain. That Autumn fern is sweet and good morning!

    It must be the lack of rain Tina, because your garden has the perfect woodland conditions they love growing in. I had to move some of mine that weren’t happy this morning. I really am fond of the Autumn Fern, it’s been by far the easiest so far.


  5. I have two ferns planted by the previous owner. I wish I knew what they were but I don’t. I’m just happy they are both still thriving since I have very little experience with ferns and probably wouldn’t add them myself. They also doubled in size after I amended their bed several years ago.

    Are they evergreen? Sometimes you can find sites online that post pictures so you can compare. They must be happy if they doubled in size. I find that ferns really like an ammended soil more than other perennials. In the woods they would have all that great leaf mulch & compost to grow in.


  6. Love the ferns! I have very little shady area. I use a painted fern in a planter on my waterfall patio that has companions of purple heuchera, lavender impatiens, a dracena. The annuals overwintered for me, so I didn’t have to replant! Cameron

    Thanks Cameron. What a great way to utilize the very little shady area you have in your garden. That sounds like a wonderful combination you put together. I love the combo of Purple Heuchera w/Japanese Painted Fern!


  7. I’ve always liked ferns and they make a perfect background for any plant! Yours look wonderfully healthy.

    Thanks Nancy! They are the perfect background plant.


  8. Hi Racquel, your ferns are so sweet. I love the autumn fern and especially that it is evergreen. I wish more of the ferns were so that I wouldn’t accidently dig them up in the winter when looking for a spot to stick something. LOL The painted fern is so tough here, even though it looks terrible by the end of summer. If cut back to the ground and mulched it will send up fresh new fronds to take you into winter.

    Hi Frances, thank you. I wish more were evergreen too. I haven’t accidently dug any up, but I have done that with bulbs, lol. That’s what I did this summer because it got pretty dried out from the heat & drought this summer and now it is looking lush again.


  9. I love ferns in the garden. My favorites are Autumn, Cinnamon, Holly and Southern Shield ferns.

    Me too Susie. I haven’t had any luck with Ostrich, Southern & Cinnamon in the past. Never grown the Holly fern before. I will have to give all of these another try.


  10. I planted Japanese painted fern and wood fern in one of my clients flower beds. They curled up and died for lack of water. Total failure. Glad to see your’s are hanging in there.

    They definitely aren’t drought resistant plants, but they do seem to perk back up when the weather changes. Thanks Deb.


  11. I love ferns too. Some of mine just shriveled up this year with all the dryness but a few have made it through. Hopefully all will be back next year.

    Some of mine did the same thing Cindy, but once the weather cooled off & the rains came they are starting to emerge from the soil again. I’m sure they will be back, they are pretty tough plants.


  12. Posted by spookydragonfly on September 29, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    We have many different ferns living back in the woods, I just go into the woods for more if I need them. I’ve recently transplanted a few around our waterfall on the woods’ edge. With the painted ferns….do you think they’ll accept evening sun?…or would that be too harsh? The particular area I’m thinking of always has moisture.

    How lucky you are to live in the woods and be able to transplant what you want into your garden! Evening sun usually isn’t too harsh. It’s the afternoon sun 12-3 that can be really hard on plants. A moist area would probably make them very happy!


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