Ferns (Pteridophytes) have long been a favored plant worldwide, and are included in both indoor and outdoor gardens. They are natural to woodland forests around the globe.
During the Victorian era (around mid 1800’s, to be precise), fern gardens became all the rage for both the rich and the poor. This “fern frenzy”, also called pteridomania, became so trendy in England and Scotland that fern-hunting parties were created by the wealthy elite to scour nearby forests and woodlands for prized ferns. They also imported numerous plants from various countries around the world. They built large conservatories and filled them with beautiful ferns of all sizes, stately furniture and other exotics to enjoy year round, creating ferneries.
The majority of Victorian ferneries fell in neglect, however, but thankfully a great many have been restored due to the diligence of historical and pteridophyte societies.
Ferns can be included in any shady spot in the garden or even indoors if the right requirements are met.
Here are a few plant suggestions to help create your own fern garden or simply add their lush foliage and rich texture to your outdoor space.
Indoor Fern Recommendations:
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Boston/Sword Fern ( Nephrolepis exaltata) – A well known houseplant and perfect for hanging baskets, this fern prefers at temp range from 60 to 75 degrees. They are not cold tolerant and prefer indirect sunlight. Boston ferns have a need for a high humidity environment so misting the plants occasionally with water will encourage vigorous health.
By Stan Shebs, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=602771
Holly Fern (Cyrtomium falcatum) – A very hardy fern who’s only requirement is basically indirect sunlight.
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Staghorn Fern (Platycerium) – Prefers warm, damp and humus medium as they originate from tropical regions. They also benefit from good air circulation and a bit of direct sunlight.
Outdoor Fern Recommendations:
Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus) – Enjoys a warm environment ranging from 68-80 degrees and indirect sunlight. Unlike other ferns, they can tolerate average soil and infrequent watering. It does need moderate air consistency.
Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) – Typically found near streams, lakes and boggy areas, this fern benefits from moist soil and average air consistency. It also prefers indirect sunlight. It can be grown in average soil but will not produce the beautiful and massive 2 to 5 foot fronds they are prized for. The most notable quality of cinnamon ferns is they can be grown successfully in Zones 2-10.
Tree Ferns (Cyatheales) – They are a slow-growing variety that creates a stunning show as a architectural plant when mature. Tree ferns will grow up to 15 feet, so it’s typically grown outdoors but would be a welcoming addition in a conservancy or indoor plant due to it’s slow-growing nature. It requires dappled shade and moist but not wet soil and good air circulation.
Additional Resources For Fern Gardens: