Careful preparation of the soil before
planting is essential. Remember that ferns are woodland plants and in nature
grow in a spongy carpet of rotted leaf humus that has accumulated through the
years. They cannot stand a heavy soil and most of them dislike lime, which
should never be added to their compost. Dig the soil deeply, and incorporate
with it a liberal supply of organic material so that food and moisture are
conserved. Decayed garden compost, peat moss or well-rotted leaves are ideal.
Well rotted sawdust may also be used.
|Feeding Your Ferns|
As the plants become established, frequent topdressing with any of the organic materials mentioned above will help to maintain moisture and at the same time supply natural plant food. Never apply inorganic fertilizers in any form. These quickly react on the plants, which grow luxuriantly for a time but may then turn brown and die.
Give an occasional dressing of unbleached wood ash and an annual application of dried sheep manure, or other organic fertilizer at 1/4 lb. per sq. yd., to improve both color and size of fronds. The nearer the approach to the natural conditions in which the plants grow wild, the greater will be the success and the fewer the disappointments.
Choose a site that is not only protected from strong sun but is also sheltered from cold spring winds that may damage the tender young fronds. Drought is the greatest enemy of most ferns and probably the major cause of disappointment to growers.
The greatest attribute of hardy ferns is
their undemanding nature.