Ferns and fronds

When I first heard that ferns were part of landscape plans–over 20 years ago–my first thought was…what? Why would someone want to buy something they can see in the woods?  (We still have quite a few clients who feel that way!)

However, with our new deer-induced reality, combined with a maturing appreciation for natural landscapes, I have come around. Most ferns, by the way, do best in partial shade with reasonable moisture. Here is the all-star list:

Matteucia struthiopteris is the classic Fiddlehead fern.They spread, and boast crowns as tall as 150 cm. You can cut some of the young heads in the spring; just be sure to cook them well in a lot of water to avoid oxalic acid troubles.

Osmunda has a marvelous Wizard-of-Oz sound to it. Best known are Cinnamon ferns, which grow to tall crowns as high as 160 cm and have a central frond that looks coated in cinnamon. Osmunda regalis (as in royalty) can be even taller, and the foliage is more cut-out than typically fern-like.

Athyrium felix-femina has a good, low, spreading habit. A. nipponica is the Japanese painted fern and while pretty, is less hardy and less reliable. Dryopteris marginalis is easy to remember, as it is one of the few ferns that withstand dry (dryopteris, get it?) conditions with some sun. You will recognize it filling in large green areas in the woods and on roadsides.

Polystichum acrostichoides is an “evergreen” fern. It can be nice in a natural rockery situation.  Who knows, maybe I’ll grow to appreciate it more one day, like the others!

And while buying ferns may seem silly when there are so many in the woods, keep in mind that a container-grown fern will transplant better; and that transplanting wild plants is just plain wrong. Hope this helps you appreciate them, and better know what will suit your situation!


By the same author: Love the one you’re with! (Click the image below)


Laura Scully64 Posts

Diplômée de l’Université de Guelph en horticulture, Laura Scully est cofondatrice et copropriétaire de Northland, entreprise tremblantoise d'aménagement paysager maintes fois primée. Elle partage son savoir horticole avec les lecteurs du Tremblant Express depuis 2009. / A University of Guelph graduate in horticulture, Laura Scully is the cofounder and co-owner of Northland, the Mont-Tremblant landscaping company that has won so many titles and awards. She has been sharing her knowhow with Tremblant Express readers since 2009. paysagistesnorthland.com


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