Ferns are an ancient member of the plant world. Older than the dinosaurs, they were thriving on earth two hundred million years before flowering plants evolved. They have survived ice ages and the ravages of time.

Drop into a suburban backyard about 30 years ago and you’d more than likely find a shade cloth clad structure down one side of the house filled with an array of shade loving plants, including ferns. While shade houses aren’t as popular as they once were, the good news is Ferns are back in favour.

Ferns are extremely forgiving and have an incredibly strong survival instinct. Ferns will grow where other plants fail to thrive and most do well in rich, well-drained soil with an abundance of organic matter.

Planting a fern garden outdoors requires minimal attention other than regular mulching and water during very dry periods.

Few pests bother ferns other than the passing slug, which will devour nearly anything. If issues with mealy bugs and other sap sucking insects, pop a Confidor tablet into the potting mix.

Divide ferns in early spring when they become too large.

Some easy to grow ferns include:

– Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina)
– Southern Maidenhair Fern (Adaintum capillus-veneris)
– Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
– Elkhorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum)
– Staghorn Fern (Platycerium superbum)
– Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium australasicum)

I reckon everyone should have a go at growing fern. Pick the right variety and the right spot and you’ll have something lush and lovely and piece of ancient history in your home. If you’d like any information head to the Fern Society of South Australia’s website.






About The Author

In the Garden is an exciting new local South Australian TV program on Channel 9 this Summer & next Autumn showcasing the best ‘green’ stories this state has to tell. Check out the latest in garden trends, new plants and top tips to keep those gardens blooming.