Ferns

(Question)

I have a new bed to plant but it is very shady. I wonder what you might suggest. I have hosta and violets on my list. I wonder about ferns. I don’t know anything about ferns. Is there some you might suggest? And perhaps ones that need less moisture. I know some ferns need boggy conditions. Thanks.

 

(Answer)

One fern that tolerates more dryness is the one with the misleadingly dainty name lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina). Others, such as some of the polystichum varieties, will take drier conditions once established… in other words, you water them regularly in the first season or two, then let them do their own thing.

You might like to review our Gardening Guide – Hardy Garden Ferns – which provides much helpful information about these plants.

We also have another relevant Gardening Guide — Perennials for Shade in Dry or Moist Areas — that you might find helpful.

From my own dry shade gardening experience, I can recommend plants such as: epimedium, Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum), Lenten rose or hellebore, sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum). Keep in mind, there are all levels of dryness. A bone-dry shade garden will be a challenge to any plant. Be sure to keep adding organic matter to the soil every year to retain moisture. Hope you find this info useful. Happy gardening!