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Mulching ferns

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aimee blog photos
Joined: 6/21/2008
Location: Indiana
Posts: 850
Posted: Oct/18/2008 10:23 PM PST

Yay, I'm quite excited. My fern garden contains some cultivated ferns but it's more than half wild ones I've brought home (nothing endangered, never fear). I have numerous plain old "woods ferns" and a Northern Maidenhair Fern (now divided into two) that I've had for a few years. Today on a hike we found some Sensitive or Bead Ferns and something I think is an Ostrich fern but I'm not sure. I brought some back and planted them this afternoon. I hope they have time to take before winter!

So my question is the best way to mulch ferns. Should I mulch before frost or let frost kill the fronds before mulching? Should I leave the dead fronds on there or trim them back? And I was going to use pine needles to mulch. Is that good for all ferns? How deep?

I have the woods ferns and wild maidenhair, a cultivated maidenhair, a dre's dagger, a cultivated ostrich fern and some japanese painted ferns that are still babies as well as the new sensitive and mystery possible wild ostrich.
aimee blog photos
Joined: 6/21/2008
Location: Indiana
Posts: 850
Posted: Oct/23/2008 1:13 PM PST

I've done a little more work on the fern garden in preparation for winter. Went ahead and mulched with pine needles, although they'll probably get some more later. I made a little house for my new sensitive fern (them being sensitive and all) to give it as much time as possible to get established before the cold nips it. And I built a wall out of some scrap brick which I think looks pretty cool. I hope it really fluffs out in the spring!

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cgar blog photos
Joined: 9/24/2008
Location: Florida
Posts: 582
Posted: Nov/07/2008 6:32 AM PST

What is that in the first picture? Abacus fern (ha-ha)...thinking about robbing the woods for ferns to put in on the shady side of the house. Never transplanted wild ones before. Any advice?
aimee blog photos
Joined: 6/21/2008
Location: Indiana
Posts: 850
Posted: Nov/07/2008 12:55 PM PST

LOL those are the "beads" on my sensitive or bead fern. The spore-bearing fronds look like that. I'll attach another pic I found online. The other fern I thought might be an ostrich is not... it's a rattlesnake fern. I'm afraid that one might not make it, it's looking poorly.

I don't do anything special when I bring them in. I take a bucket and choose small ferns, get as much dirt as possible around the roots. I usually try to bring some leaves and humus from around the plant to incorporate into the soil where I plant it. They all seem to be quite hardy, I've never lost one except maybe this rattlesnake.

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aimee blog photos
Joined: 6/21/2008
Location: Indiana
Posts: 850
Posted: Nov/15/2008 9:16 AM PST

I've been doing some more gathering and more research. My regular wild woods ferns are Ebony Spleenworts. The possible wild ostrich fern I had, which I then decided was a rattlesnake fern, is NOT either one. It's a broad beech fern. And the first one didn't make it so I got a couple more and they seem to be hanging in there. Spring will tell. I figured that out when I found some real rattlesnake ferns, which are quite different. I was mistaken the first time because they both have a very broad triangular leaf shape, but a rattlesnake fern has a only one branch, with a succulent fleshy stem. I have a new specimen too, a rattlesnake type fern that's bronze-burgundy and evergreen. I think it must be a cut-leaf grape fern. Still, my favorite of all is my Northern Maidenhair fern which I found a few years ago. It's done so well I've divided it into three. The leaf pattern is the coolest thing ever. Check out the pic.

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poeticpeony blog photos
Joined: 4/04/2006
Location: NE Ohio, deck chuckin' fool
Posts: 9437
Moderator
Posted: Nov/15/2008 3:39 PM PST

That's pretty cool. I have some wild, broader fronded (is that a word?) ferns that initially grew on the very back of my almost 3 acres. The only way I can figure out they got into one of my flower beds and behind the garage is from being picked up on the tractor tires. They get a stalk growing on them like your picture.

I have one that's lacier that took up residence on a half rotted table in the part of the barn where the roof caved in. It's grown there for several years now. Probably this weather we're having now will put an end to it for this year. Next year I'm going to get it out of there and put it in the yard in my shade garden.
maxjoy
Joined: 7/23/2009
Location: Estacada Oregon
Posts: 3
Posted: Jul/23/2009 9:11 PM PST

i see your message is a year old but it is still their so i shall write. maddenhair in my opinion is the most wonderful of all. mine are also wild and grow around the creek. i have about 34 that have seeded themself. they grow on the banks where there is lots of shade. in my woods there are 7 different kind of ferns so keep looking.
aimee blog photos
Joined: 6/21/2008
Location: Indiana
Posts: 850
Posted: Jul/24/2009 3:27 PM PST

Hi Max... I do love my maidenhairs.

I'll attach pictures of the garden this summer, it fluffed out very nicely. The wild varieties I have, all very common in this area, are: Christmas fern, ebony spleenwort, lady fern, broad beech fern, fragile fern (or bladderwort, I'm not sure which), Northern maidenhair, sensitive fern, rattlesnake fern, cut leaf grape fern, and one I can't for the life of me find out what it is. Cultivateds are Dre's dagger, ostrich, Japanese painted, maidenhair, and autumn fern.

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witt blog photos
Joined: 3/28/2008
Location: Lancaster, SC
Posts: 16643
Moderator
Posted: Jul/25/2009 2:08 AM PST

Thanks, max, for reviving this thread. If you had not, I would not have seen this. I guess I missed it. I'm just getting started with an interest in ferns. I only have two so far. I have no idea what the names of them are. One is a vining or climbing fern. I have that all over the place now. I have two of another kind, a common woods fern, I guess. One came in a batch of lilies that someone gave me and the other just popped up all by itself under my porch steps. I moved it and it's still living.

Wow, look how your ferns "fluffed" out. That's gorgeous. If I happen to see any ferns for sale, is it too late to get them started and settled in to survive winter?
garden98011 blog photos
Joined: 1/15/2008
Location: Bothell
Posts: 1717
Posted: Jul/25/2009 7:48 AM PST

WoW Aimee, your fern bed tooks beautiful! ~Andrea
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