Ferns that Don't Spread

Central, WI(Zone 4a)

HI All,

I really do like Ferns,,,and am wanting to get some ideas as to which stay in nice little clumps and don't pop up all over the place. The last type of Ferns I had (don't ask,,,I just dug them out of my Dads woods, so I don't know what kind they were) popped up Everywhere,,,,I dug them all out,,,but must have broken some roots because I am still getting them 6 years later and have to keep taking them out.

So, after being bit once, I'm pretty shy about Ferns. Any recommendations as to which stay in clumps and don't trail underground and pop up wherever?

Thanks, Kelly

Fort Pierce, FL(Zone 10a)

Hi Kelly. I'm not a fern expert, but living in my zone any ferns put in the ground just go wild. When I moved here there were already ferns spreading through my little shade garden, even growing up the sides of my Cabbage Palm.

I left them as the were and put my containers of shade plants in among them. Now all my new ferns are put in the ground in their pots so I have pretty clumps among all the wild childs. I also have hanging ferns, petticoat ferns, that my mother grew. It's my favorite.
Pati

Central, WI(Zone 4a)

Pati,

Thanks,,,great idea putting them in pots. Have you found that the roots grow out of the hole at the bottom of the pot? See how paranoid I am,,,LOL

Fort Pierce, FL(Zone 10a)

Good grief, you must have dug up the fern that ate New York to be that paranoid! LOL

I don't know a lot (really nothing) about growing in your zone. Would you bring the pots in for the winter? If you do, and with a shorter growing season, seems like they wouldn't have time to grow out of the hole. You could trim the roots off the bottom when you take them in.

I love having mine in pots because I can move them around as they grow. I have a Southern Wood fern that is going to the back now because it is getting so tall.

WARNING!!! Ferns can be habit forming!
Pati

Central, WI(Zone 4a)

Pati,

I think I did,,,LOL If they are hardy in my zone, I would leave them in the ground for the winter,,,maybe I would have to dig them up once in awhile to take care of some roots.

Fort Pierce, FL(Zone 10a)

Oh my goodness, now I'm REALLY going to expose my ignorance. Being a true all-my-life southerner, I didn't think any plant was hardy in your zone...except maybe trees!
Pati

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4b)

Pati, There are many plants that are hardy in our zone, even a few cactus.

What I want are some ferns that will really spread in zone 3 where our cabin is. There are some in the woods, but they don't like being moved.

Pauline

West Central, WI(Zone 4a)

I have found that the Sensitive Fern spreads like crazy. I also have a Hay Scented Fern which I love. (Sorry that I don't know the botanical names.) It is very low and lacey.....and has been starting to spread, but not so that it's annoying yet. It has a subtle fragrance.....like it's name. I've got some nasty, ugly things in my woods that are coming up everywhere and I can't get rid of them. You can have all you want. I don't know the name of them....but they are very distinctive so I should be able to find them in my fern book.

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4b)

Sensitive ferns ok I will get some and did you figure out the nasty ugly ones?

Central, WI(Zone 4a)

Pati,

LOL,,,we have lots of things that are hardy hear. You're not showing ignorance,,,just have lived in the South all your life,,,why would you pay attention to things that are hardy in the Arctic,,,lol

Marie,

Those are prolly the ones that I dug up from my Dad's woods and planted in the bed around the deck,,,,,I Still have those nasty things coming up once in awhile,,,grrrr

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Kelly, you will find plenty on Fancyfronds, Pati posted a link to it on the original thread. Polystichum aculeatum is hardy to zone 4, don't know of that's a bit close. There are lots that don't spread.

http://www.fancyfronds.com/store/getdisweed.cfm?ItemID=120

Late here, look again tomorrow!

Central, WI(Zone 4a)

wal,

Thanks for the link, I'll look around more on Wed.

Sterling, VA(Zone 6b)

...and I hear that much of Wisconsin now has indoor plumbing as well!! yuk..yuk...yuk. Sorry...just checking out this new forum. I am new to ferns, but I planted some cinnamon ferns (Osmunda cinnamomea...it is about the only fern that I can recognize by its botanical name) last fall than they look really cool about now. I will have to post a picture.

- Brent

Central, WI(Zone 4a)

Brent,
Where ever did you hear that from???? Don't let anyone fool you,,,we've had it for quite a few years now,,,, Although, I'm a transplant,,,so I can't speak for the years before I moved up here,,,LOL

Kelly

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

Pattischell, we are lucky enough to grow the wonderful mother fern that doesn't ever stray. It multiplies by baby ferns that it grows along its stipes (is that right?) But I've never had them take.

http://davesgarden.com/pf/go/57035/index.html

Kelly, If you email Judith at fancyfronds.com she's more than happy to help find the fern you want.

Piedmont, MO(Zone 6a)

Hi all, great to see this fern forum taking off.

I just wanted to mention that in my garden the three most aggressive ferns have been sensitive fern, ostrich fern, and broad beech fern. Moist, loose soil will lead to more rampant growth.

Some of the better behaved ones include Christmas fern, regal or royal fern, cinnamon fern, tassel fern, maidenhair fern, shield ferns. They will spread occasionally (by spores more than runners).

Good luck finding just the right ferns!
Here is one of my favorites, the Northern Maidenhair:


This message was edited May 26, 2006 6:17 AM

Thumbnail by Toxicodendron
Central, WI(Zone 4a)

Thanks for all the info so far everyone. It really helps make me less neurotic about Ferns taking over my whole yard,,,lol

I'll be tring a few this year,,,have to get those names written down so I know what Im looking for.

West Central, WI(Zone 4a)

Toxic.....nice list, I was thinking of a few of those myself. I have several varieties of japanese painted ferns, and they are very well behaved. Their clumps just gradually enlarge, and then you can cut off hunks (technical term there) to replant elsewhere or give away.

Lovely form on your maidenhair fern, by the way. I love mine, but it always seems like we get a storm and fronds get broken off. They are quite delicate. (And then there are the occassional visits from my neighbor's dog. Luckily she is taking to her training and leaving puppyhood behind.) I have two varieties, one of which is taller than the other. I'll have to go out and check on which is which.

Piedmont, MO(Zone 6a)

Hi Marie,
Yes, the maidenhair ferns are always lovely in the late spring with all the new growth. Sometimes late in summer I cut off some of the older tatty looking fronds. What is your other species? I have adiantum pedatum (pictured) and a shorter one that is adiantum hispidulum. It looks very similar but the new growth is copper colored and it stays much smaller. It is not supposed to be hardy here in zone 6, but came through the winter just fine.

Thumbnail by Toxicodendron
Tri-Cities, WA(Zone 7b)

I would second the recommendation to speak with Judith at Fancy Fronds. If there was ever a helpful and knowledgeable fern expert in the trade, it is her.

Central, WI(Zone 4a)

Thank-You, I'll have to get in touch with her.

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4b)

Hi, I am still lurking and learning.

Maine, United States(Zone 5b)

Toxicodendron, how old is your Northern Maidenhair fern in that first picture? I keep seeing those at the nursery but they are so frail and skimpy looking....obviously nothing like that picture you posted. So I was wondering approximately how long it takes for a Maidenhair to get some "umph" factor. It is such a pretty fern when it is full like that.

Here in Maine, the woods are carpeted with Hayscented, Cinnamon, and Sensitive ferns. I just picked up some Hayscented ones to plant on a slope in our back corner...I want the carpeted look up there, so I don't I care how much that one spreads (ok, I say that now). I chose that fern because I heard it is very easy to grow and not fussy about anything.

Toledo, OH(Zone 6a)

Wow! This is fascinating! I have a very small area to plant so I would guess ferns would not be a good idea as they spread. Thanks for all the info!

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

bolino, not many ferns spread that I have, some are good in pots also.

Toledo, OH(Zone 6a)

How do you get your zone in your post? Do you have to be a subscribing member?

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

bolino, go to 'My Info' tab at the top, then 'Manage My preferences'. All the business is there.

Toledo, OH(Zone 6a)

Thanks Wallaby1! Got it!!!!

Piedmont, MO(Zone 6a)

Hi Bolino, welcome to Dave's Garden!

Noreaster, I have had maidenhair ferns for 25 years. Occasionally I divide a clump and move it, and that is what you see in the picture. So I can't say for sure how long it takes to get an impressive specimen, but I do know that rich moist soil helps a lot. I have some in poor areas with root competion from English Ivy, and they persist but are much smaller in size and not nearly as full and lush.

Here is an unusual fern-type plant I got at Home Depot a while back. It has survived winter here in zone 6, although the label says zone 7 is the limit.
Selaginella pallescens, aka Arborvitae Fern:

Thumbnail by Toxicodendron
Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Lovely Selaginella Toxi. I have tried the ones with hanging roots for houseplants but they don't live, perhaps should find one for outside.

Noreaster, to further the discussion on Adiantum pedatum I bought mine from a fern nursery by post a few years ago, possibly 7 years now. It was supposed to be A. venustum, but I am pleased it is this one as I found the other later at a local nursery. It was only a small plant in a 7cm pot.

It grew quite quickly and made two crowns within perhaps 3 years, so I split them but since splitting there doesn't seem to be any more obvious crowns although they have increased in size. I grow them in a free draining mix of moss peat compost, gritty river soil and leafy compost. I keep them under the edge of a tree where they get some sun, and keep them moist. When they start to dry out very quickly is the time to pot up to a bigger pot, and that gives them a real boost . I did this last year and the biggest one really took off, the stems got thicker and taller and turned a lovely deep blue black. They need another pot up now, it's best done when they are in full growth so the roots grow quickly into the new compost, any standing water around roots can rot ferns.

Thumbnail by wallaby1
Central, WI(Zone 4a)

Toxic,
Great Fern,,,,just love it,,,very different.

Piedmont, MO(Zone 6a)

Garden Geek, glad you liked the selaginella. The label says it is a groundcover, but I will probably be lucky just to keep it alive with our cold winters. I also have selaginella kraussiana planted outside. It looks great by the end of summer, but gets damaged a lot in the winter. I mulch it with pine needles to keep from losing it altogether.

Janet, your maidenhair looks very lush and full in that pot. Have you considered putting some in your landscape? They mix well with hostas, tiarellas, and other broadleaf shade plants. Dividing them certainly helps them to grow (in my experience).

I love all ferns, but sometimes they can get out of hand. For the last 2 years I have been planting the most invasive ones along our creek. When the creek floods they look bad, but soon recover with new growth.


Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Toxi, I keep thinking about putting one perhaps in the ground somewhere, but the raised bed under the tree doesn't seem to have the right space. When I find the right space, or if, it would be nice. I feel it needs to be amongst rocks next to a pond, which I don't have but 'have a good space' for one! It would perhaps get too much sun but eventually.....

Ferns love the stuff I grow them in, the gritty soil we dig from the brick lined drain and horse chestnut leaf compost, yum yum. I don't feed them, but they do get a bit of food from the 1/3 peat compost I put in the mix.

I have ferns that grow in pots when a plant is in one for some time, I had lots I grew on in pots and they are now on the grass slope on the other side of the water drain, it's quite steep and difficult to send a mower down. They are growing nicely and look great, hopefully they will take over from the grass so sometimes it's good that they spread!

Can't see ferns in the pic, but the slope to the water, should be good for frogs too with ferns. I have some now on a bank near the house which is north facing, and I have a bath tub there so they must like it, I saw baby toads and frogs last year and a fern has self set there so I left it ....frogs like the moist cover.

Thumbnail by wallaby1
Mystic, CT(Zone 6b)

Oh gosh, thanks for this thread! I have hay ferns running all along what use to be a perennial border. They are horrible . Beautiful, but horrible. I have dug them out, but they always come back. When they started to spread to another bed, I decided to smother them with newspaper. I took all my perennials out last year, and put the paper down this year, but they are starting to poke through the wet layers. Yikes.

I love the way Maidenhair and Painted ferns look, but was shy of planting any because of the monster fern I already had. Thanks again!

Central, WI(Zone 4a)

Ivy,

I'm going to try some of the other ferns that are supposed to clump,,hopefully, that's all they do,,,LOL

Piedmont, MO(Zone 6a)

Ivy and Garden Geek, good luck with your ferns. I know the maidenhair never did run amuck in my perennial beds and neither have the shield ferns. Just avoid the Sensitive ferns, Ostrich ferns, and Broad Beech ferns....they like to take over!!!

Janet, I guess all those pots in the picture were planted into the prepared slope? I bet that looks nice. Seems like I always acquire plants a few at a time and just work them in somewhere instead of laying out an entire bed all at once. Then I move them repeatedly until I find the right spot, LOL.

A correction/addition to my Arborvitae fern: this is probably Selaginella braunii, nor S. pallescens as the label states. See this link if you want more information: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/371724/

Toxi

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Toxi, the plants are being put into the prepared bed at the moment, I have spent years collecting them, many grown from seed or bought as small plug plants and grown on. I just buy what I like and find a place for a new bed, I try to do a new one each year but eventually space will run out.

The slope the ferns are on is on the opposite side of the drain (with bog plants)which is just beyond that bed, you can see the road beyond that. The grass is mowed half way down, ferns in the rough grass towards the bottom.

Fort Pierce, FL(Zone 10a)

Wallaby, what a lovely garden you are making. I'm very envious of you having all that space to display your ferns to their full advantage. AND....you have bog plants too? Indeed, your cup runneth over. (smile) I would love to see a picture of the bathtub!

I've been visiting your town on the internet. I'm in a reading marathon about the War of Roses, and am seriously considering becoming a member of the Richard III Society. I'm very serious about my English history. LOL
Pati



Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Pati, I do often look at the garden as it grows again, and as I make a new bed and I have the biggest smile on my face! I am lucky, and yes the bog plants are at the bottom edge of the water which can dry up in summer, but there is old Victorian engineering bricks at the bottom, with a larger well just through the pipe under the bridge. The soil at the edge is always boggy, if very dry the bricks keep a lot of moisture in. I have Typha which grew itself and is spreading, grasses Cyperus longus, Carex pseudocyperus, Phalaris arundinacea picta, Lythrum salicaria, irises, Polystichum munitum. Had a Gunnera manicata which got drowned when the water board flooded the drain while doing work on pipes.

The bath tub. and you can see a fern behind which has grown nicely, Athyrium filix-femina. It does set a few self sets around in moist gaps from spore, mainly around the phormium opposite, but they are easily removed, and I can put them on my slope! It is sun tolerant too.

Thumbnail by wallaby1
Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

I have a pic on 35mm film of the bricks when the drain was dug out, need to digi pic it. I did take one in April after snapping sunsets, it was nearly dark and it was taken on the 'scene' shot which works well in low light. You can see the Polystichum munitum on the right, at the base of a flowering cherry and just above water line. The other ferns were planted on the left side last year, but not in growth then.

Thumbnail by wallaby1

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