Ferns

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Ferns are a primordial plant predating the dinosaurs over 360 million years ago. They were living on the earth 200 million years before the first flowering plants evolved. They may be coarse or delicate, succulent or filmy, crown forming or creeping, lime lovers or lime intolerant, invasive weeds or virtually impossible to cultivate.

Most ferns are leafy plants that grow in moist soil, high humidity and the shade of forests. They require these moist conditions for growth and reproduction. They have well-developed internal veins that promote the flow of water and nutrients. Ferns do not grow from seeds but from spores and undergo an intermediate plant stage called a gametophyte.
The frond is the leafy branch of the fern. The small leaflets that comprise the frond are called pinnae. Underneath the frond are small clumps or patches that are stuck onto the surface of the pinnae where the spores are found. Not all fronds have spores but the ones that do are called fertile fronds.

Ferns are essentially wild plants and have been developed for garden conditions. If you plan to use ferns in your garden, plant them in conditions that are comparable to those supporting the native ferns in the wild. Grow only those plants for which you have the proper conditions and do not pick ferns from the wild. Purchase them from reputable dealers who have nursery-propagated ferns, not collected from the wild. Nursery propagated ferns always have selected forms with fancy fronds.

The section of the country where garden determines to a large extent the type of ferns you can grow. Southern coastal areas are homes to tropical ferns while southwest areas can only grow ferns that have adapted to less humidity. Woodland ferns grow in the Midwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic regions and upper Southern regions.

Many ferns have a natural affinity for rocks. Some will grow on the rock surface while others need exceptionally sharp drainage and more sun. Almost all ferns like the protection of rocks, which help the soil to hold moisture and establish a microclimate that is warmer in winter and cooler in summer than the surrounding environment. Ferns among rocks should be planted in a well drained but moisture-retentive soil.

For gardeners in most regions of the country, ferns adapted to woodland environments are attractive and easy to grow. Woodland ferns do best in high shade. The open shade of mature trees or the north side of the house or a wall provide nearly ideal light conditions. Most woodland ferns will adapt to relatively low light levels but ferns will not survive with a great deal of shade . Evergreen species are the most tolerant of low light levels. Generally, plants will tolerate more sun and less water in the northern part of their range. The stronger the sun, the greater the need for water; conversely, the more water available, the more sun they will take. Most ferns prefer a slightly acidic soil with good water retention and excellent drainage.

Gardening Articles: http://organicgardenarticles.com/

Author: Tammy Sons
www.dntnursery.com

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