Soften your indoors with fernsFerns often remind us of the tropics of the rain forest where some forms grow to be more than 15 feet tall, literally towering over the visitors that walk beneath them. These are typically the variety of the Australian tree fern. In other cases they remind us of the cool, damp regions of the Pacific Northwest or the northern woodlands of Minnesota and Canada. These consist of a variety of selections such as the Maidenhair fern, the Ostrich fern and the Cinnamon fern to name a few. The richness of their green fronds seems to add a soft texture to the lower level of the forest floors.
By: John Zvirovski, The Jamestown Sun
Ferns often remind us of the tropics of the rain forest where some forms grow to be more than 15 feet tall, literally towering over the visitors that walk beneath them. These are typically the variety of the Australian tree fern. In other cases they remind us of the cool, damp regions of the Pacific Northwest or the northern woodlands of Minnesota and Canada. These consist of a variety of selections such as the Maidenhair fern, the Ostrich fern and the Cinnamon fern to name a few. The richness of their green fronds seems to add a soft texture to the lower level of the forest floors.
As we venture through the woods on nature trails, or just breaking our own trail, walking through these fern beds leave our pants heavy with dew and moisture. It seems to be the symbol of a rich organic region, where ferns grow in moist soils.
Often times we like to grow these in our cool, shady locations within the yard, as they seem to thrive without effort. As with many other plants, it is nice to bring some of these into our indoor environments. Some people do not have space to grow gardens or even yards if they live in some apartments or condominiums. It is nice to be able to bring some elements of the outdoors inside where we can enjoy them all year long.
Although it is difficult to grow an Australian tree fern indoors due to its height and lighting requirements, if one has a greenhouse or small conservatory attached to their house, they can grow these items. But as with many of us, we are limited on both space and areas that receive good lighting inside the home. In these cases, there are a variety of ferns that enjoy lower lighting conditions and the elements that the indoors provide. Keep in mind that some of the varieties require a higher humidity, so can be a bit more difficult to grow over others types.
One of the most delicate and popular ferns to grow indoors is the Maidenhair Fern with its arching fronds of bright green foliage on black stems. It reached a height of about 2 feet by 2 feet wide making it perfect for most homes that may have limited space. It requires bright, diffused light and high humidity.
Another variety of similar size is the slow-growing rabbit’s foot fern. This fern produces very fine foliage on sturdy stems that emerge from white hairy feet that crawl across the top of the soil and over the pot edge. These ‘feet’ are actually rhizomes that cause the plant to divide and are soft to the touch.
The bird’s nest fern has solid leaves that grow from the center of the plant in a circle, creating a ‘nest’ type of center. The leaves will reach about 1 to 2 feet long indoors and can reach up to five in their native habitats. Their bright leaves have a lime green coloring and are quite easy to grow.
One of the ferns that have a little coloring in the leaves is the silver brake fern. Its fronds have a more spidery appearance with crested ends. Down the center of each frond is a bright silvery stripe. This fern also takes limited space with a limited size of 2 feet, but has great characteristics.
The Boston fern is the most common of all varieties that people try to grow. Unlike many others, this fern can shed a large amount of leaflets as it ages, especially if it gets dry for any period of time. When mature, this plant can reach two to three feet tall by the same width. In nature, this plant can reach of size of seven feet by seven feet, however many do not commonly see it in its native region.
A variety that is different than all the rest is the staghorn fern. This selection does not need soil in which to grow, as it is an epiphyte or air fern variety. In nature, it attaches to the sides of trees and grows long silvery gray leaves that can reach up to 8 feet in length. Many people grow these indoors on a board of moss attached to the wall or a hanging apparatus. The plant needs regular misting in order to remain healthy and medium to bright light.
As with all ferns, direct sunlight can burn the leaves and dry air can cause the drying of the leaf edges. Bright indirect sunlight is imperative for optimal growth with a light misting every two to three days to keep up the health and vigor. For ferns in containers, placing the container on a tray of rocks, filled with water to create the needed humidity, but never allow the soil or root to sit in the water. Consistently wet roots will encourage fungus and rot if present for a long period of time.
With all the fern varieties that are available in the local market, you should be able to find a selection that works best for your needs. Why not add a little lush vegetation into your indoor environment and master the art of growing healthy and vigorous ferns. If you do it right, they may just overrun your home and create a jungle atmosphere!