Thursday, April 12, 2012

Native Fern Choices that Do Not Grow Too High

Many times landscapers and gardeners will want short ferns to go under trees or near a fence or other shaded location. While there are many ferns that will take the shade without a problem, some of these are too tall to go under some trees.These five native ferns all grow under two feet tall and are native to the United States.


Cheilanthes lanosa(Michx) D.C. Eaton (Hairy Lip-fern)

The hairy lip-fern grows seven to eight inches tall and six to eight inches wide with dark green evergreen fronds that curl up in dry weather and unfurl in the rain. Sterile fronds stay evergreen while fertile fronds will break off in the cold season. This type of fern is found in the granite region of the Piedmont Georgia area.


Dennstaedtia punctilobula (Michx.) T. Moore (Eastern Hayscented Fern)

This fine fern gets up to 12 to 18 inches tall and requires 12 to 24 inch spread spacing. It prefers partial to full shade and slightly acidic soil. It’s an aromatic fern, evergreen, and no discernable blooms. Its foliage has lacy leaflets and green fronds. To propagate you can divide the rhizomes.


Athyrium filix-femina(L.) Roth var. asplenoides (Michx.) Hulten (Asplenium Ladyfern, Athyrium asplenioides, Athyrium filix-femina ssp. asplenioides)

This beautiful fern grows up to three feet tall and needs spacing of up to 18 inches apart. It prefers partial to full shade for optimum growth. This fern is easy to grow, and has average water needs. There are non-noticeable flowers and is grown for its silver-gray foliage. It is a dense clump-forming fern, and you divide these clumps to propagate. A great choice for window boxes.


Botrychium virginianum(L.) Sw. (Rattlesnake Fern)

Rattlesnake fern only grows up to 12 inches high. It is a difficult slow growing fern, but is very lovely to look at if you want to put the effort into it. It prefers light shade and rich woodland soil. It will reproduce by spores and is difficult to propagate.The center clusters look like a rattlesnake rattle, hence its name.


Asplenium resiliensKunze (Black-stemmed Spleenwort)

The black-stemmed spleenwort fern has dark green leather-like fronds. Frond pinnae are blunt-tipped and oblong, with a black shiny rachis. It grows six to 12 inches tall and six inches wide. Plant it in a shaded area with moist soil. It closely resembles Asplenium trichomanes. This is a great plant for flower boxes.


Asplenium trichomanesL. (Maidenhair Spleenwort)

Growing two to 10 inches tall and three to six inches wide, the maidenhair spleenwort has narrow evergreen fronds. There is a dark red rachis and medium green pinnae. It prefers a moist shaded area. Maidenhair spleenwort grows wild in rocky crevices and is hard to cultivate. Propagate with root stock division. Another nice window box choice.

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