Hardy Ferns for the Garden - Our
There is a fern for every spot in the garden, some are frost
tender and will blacken at the slightest frost.
If you want hardy ferns for
the garden, then you have to look for ferns that grow in similar habitats to
whatever climates you have. Therefore in the UK there are many native ferns
that are very hardy and a lot of varieties have been bred for their garden
The majority of hardy garden ferns like, water and humus rich soils,
but not all!
10. Asplenium ceterach (Syn. Ceterach officinarum)
Common name ~ Rusty-back Fern
One of several hardy ferns for the garden and in particular
is ideal for stone walls, and crevices, or at home at the base of a large
boulder in a rock garden. A Hardy British Native fern that is more common in
the south of England than the north. But don’t let that fool you, provide it
with medium shelter and a dash of sunlight and it will thrive in most
gardens. Evergreen fern with green lobed fronds, silver backed leaves. Grows
to about 20cm across. Likes a gritty leaf mould based compost. Normally
found in calcareous rock crevices.
Like this but cannot locate any? Try Asplenium
trichomanes or Athyrium filix~femina
9. Onoclea sensibilis sp.
Common name ~ Sensitive Fern
A small hardy garden fern, but creeping fern. Good ground
cover for shady areas. Small upright stems branch from the rhizomes, giving
a tufted appearance. Fronds on these ferns may get sunburned so dappled
shade to full shade preferred. Rich fertile damp soil preferred. . Easily
divided from established plants, simply lift the ferns and divide.
Like this but cannot locate any? Try Athyrium niponicum
8. Polystichum setiferum
Common name ~ Shield Fern
Many varieties of this species can be found, will grow on to
almost a metre across. Rich feathery fern green fronds long and mid green
grow on from spring each year. Evergreen fern, typical habit, large arching
fronds and light brown mid-ribs, running through to the tips. Ideal for a
sun dappled corner or a secluded corner position in the garden in full
shade. A true hardy native of the UK.
If you really like this. Search out a P. setiferum
var.Divisilobum as this produces small bulbils along the stems, which may be
taken off and planted on to get more.
7. Blechnum sp.
Common name ~ Hard Fern
An evergreen family of ferns that will tolerate the harshest
Thrives in wooded corners of gardens, and at the base of
trees. Does not like lime rich soil. Rich green fronds, grows from a rhizome
so does not need a lot of planting space. A great group of different forms
to choose from but check as not all are frost hardy. Species worth looking
out for low growing B. penna-marina, the cycad like B. tabulare
and the wild looking B. spicata
6. Osmunda regalis
Common name ~ Royal Fern
As the name suggests a king amongst hardy garden ferns. Will
grow to over 6 foot in height, with large reddish brown spikes of fertile
fronds. Large pea like leaves on long upright stems. A show-stopper amongst
hardy garden ferns. Ideal for a specimen plant in a bog garden. Grow in
moist humus rich soil. Needs an adequate water supply, natural or applied.
Enrich the soil with water retaining gels or add organic rich manure. If
possible spend a bit more and buy mature specimens.
5. Matteuccia struthiopteris
Common name ~ Ostrich or Shuttlecock Fern
Fully hardy, rhizome type fern. Will divide after a few
years, and new plants can be propagated from the offshoots. Loves dappled
sunlit moist area’s of the garden. Spring fronds bring a lovely green glow
when the spring sun hits the fronds. Looks best in scattered clumps, or at
the edges of streams and water features.
4. Dryopteris wallichiana
Common name ~ Wallich’s Wood Fern.
Its not surprising that the Dryopteris are in 3 of the top 4
spots for hardy ferns in the garden. They are tough, big and bold and
welcome whatever the weather throws at them.
Wallich’s Fern is a spring time beauty, throwing up long
upright fronds of lime-green and yellow. The fronds have dark brown hairy
scales along their undersides, making a striking entrance to dappled sun or
full shade areas.
3. Asplenium scolopendrium
Common name ~ Hart’s Tongue Fern
Another British native species of hardy ferns. Likes
alkaline soil, limestone crevices. Long leathery fronds undivided, gives it
an appearance of small blades. Evergreen plant with a small rhizome, that
allows division in older plants. Most good specimens from nurseries, will be
at a size that can be split easily. Two plants for one!
2. Dryopteris affinis
Common name ~ Golden Male Fern
A plant that will stay evergreen in most climates, in others
it dies back for the winter. Large shuttlecock fern with wide fronds,
arching but very upright. Will grow in almost total shade. Lime green new
fronds in spring will darken with age. A large fern growing to almost a
metre in height and width. Easily split in spring using a sharp spade. Takes
about 3 years to mature after splitting.
Like this? Try D. erythrosora for a reddish tinge to
the young fronds.
1. Dryopteris filix~mas
Common name ~ Male fern, Buckler Fern, Male Shield Fern
Male by name and hardy by nature.
The typical British fern, the ‘cannot kill’ amongst garden
ferns. Hardiest by far and will tolerate a vast range of sittings in the
garden. This fern will thrive in, full sun through to full shade or wet
boggy ground to driest of border soils. If there’s a space plant one it will
just get on with it. A native of the whole of the British Isles and the most
common fern found, after the despised Bracken. Seen in old woodlands and
hedgerows, throughout. Large arching leaves spring up from furry brown
fiddleheads in spring, a sure sign that summer is on its way. Leave old
fronds on the plant to protect the crowns. Easily divided in spring, with a
Remember all ferns need some form of winter protection.
Deciduous species that fade in winter and shoot up again in spring, should
be protected by folding the fronds over the crown in winter and put an
upside down plant pot on top, weighted down with a rock. This will also stop
the crown being stood on in spring. A pile of hay can also be used to
protect crowns, and mark positions. Potted plants, should be moved to a
sheltered spot in winter away from winds which will dry them out too much.
Ferns and how to grow
and propagate | Best Ferns for
By David Hughes -