Ask Flora: Growing Ferns

Ask Flora: Growing Ferns

For help with these questions, I went to Judith Jones of Fancy Fronds Nursery in Gold Bar, WA. She is an expert in ferns. Thanks for the help Judith!

Dear Flora:

Why should I grow ferns? And what recommendations do you have for fern growers?

Northwest Greens


Dear Northwest Greens:

Here is the answer from Judith.

“They will do the same thing for you that listening to Baroque-Roccoco music does.  It is a matter of attraction to begin with I suppose but beyond that after nearly thirty years of growing I can cite several practical reasons for using ferns in the landscape.

  • They come in a diverse range of forms, from simple to highly divided.
  • They range in size from a couple of inches tall to several feet tall.
  • They occupy environmental niches from wetlands to deserts.
  • They quietly add substance to any garden and set off flowering perennials and shrubs to
    great advantage.
  • They are very long-lived when properly placed.
  • They are relatively pest free.

Many of my customers come up to tell me, after a harsh winter such as this, that all their ferns have survived but they are going to replace the other plants that succumbed.
ferngoldtippedcreeping-spikemoss.jpgAs far as recommendations, be more adventurous in your choices. However, question redundant-named variations of a species or cultivar, i.e. Japanese painted fern
cultivars, that appear similar. The commercial nursery industry cares little about correct identification and labeling. Buy what you like based on its appearance after determining if it indeed will grow where you intend to plant it and buy from reputable growers who know their plants. Real growers will help you choose the correct ferns for your zone and garden conditions. I have talked many a customer out of buying an unsuitable fern choice and sent them off to another grower who has the fern that I feel would do well for them.”


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