A WELCOMED resurgence in ferns has brought the species back into the limelight and the garden.
Providing a delightful splash of green – and in some cases blue – to a shady area, the plant gives off a cool, calm and collected vibe like no other.
WA Fern Society president John Banasiewicz describes his fondness for the fern as an ‘obsession’.
Below he shares his knowledge and zeal for the flowerless wonders.
What makes a fern a good choice for the garden?
Ferns are quite calming and create a cool appearance in various shades of green, yellow and blue/grey. There is a huge variety of textures and sizes and they are suitable for a range of situations in the garden.
They can be grown easily in pots, hanging baskets, in the garden or on a patio area. Many kinds are small or medium in size, so don’t become overpowering.
Where do people go wrong in growing them?
They grow their ferns in deep shade. Very few survive in such conditions, as most prefer bright to dappled light.
How do we care for ferns?
There are ferns for all light conditions, in full shade or part sun. Generally, dappled light – not direct sun – is best for most species grown in the garden or on a patio or veranda.
Most require adequate moisture and if grown in the garden they appreciate good mulch around them.
Fertilise them in warmer months, using half-strength often rather than full-strength occasionally. In the garden, plants rarely have problems with pests or disease. The occasional brown scale, coconut scale or mealybug affects some species. An insecticide or eco-oil usually solves this problem.
John’s favourite five ferns for the Perth climate
1. Asplenium australasicum (Bird’s nest fern): plant in a pot or in a shady area.
2. Cyrtomium fortunei (holly fern): for a pot or garden in sun, part-shade or shade plant in acid or alkaline soil – extremely hardy.
3. Doodia media (rasp fern): A hardy small fern for part or full sun, best grown in the garden. Its new foliage is pink, red or orange.
4. Pyrrosia lingua (tongue fern): a hardy fern for basket, pot or garden, good in part sun. Fronds are shaped like Eucalyptus leaves, come in a variety of forms and make great ground cover.
5. Platycerium bifurcatum (elkhorn fern): hardy and suitable for mounting on a board or tree trunk, or hanging in a basket.