Winter Gardening: Keeping it Green with Ferns

FernsAny gardener would attest to how bleak and drab their garden looks during winter. Even with a greenhouse or protective covering, most plants just wither and idea when it gets cold, even when there’s no snow.

Keeping your garden green throughout every season presents a challenge, but there are a range of ferns that can make the garden look like a greener place even when temperatures get cold and there’s two feet of snow.

Wintergreen Ferns

The great thing about most species of ferns is that they can withstand both the cold temperatures of the winter and the summer heat, making them ideal plants for those who want to keep their garden green all year round.

Asplenium scolopendrium, commonly known as hart’s tongue, is a small upright fern that thrives in both cold and hot weather. The tongue-shaped leaves have a verdant appearance, but they need to be placed strategically so that it doesn’t get too much light. The leaves tend to turn yellow or scorch in bright light, so it’s best to keep them in the shade. During winter, it’s striking green fronds are sure to add color to an otherwise cold-looking garden.

Another fern that thrives during the winter is Dryopteris affinis, the King Fern. These ferns tend to thrive in dryer shad areas, and once established, can grow in moister soil as well. They are visually appealing and robust, but their leaves tend to deteriorate midway through winter. A way to circumvent this is to cut the fronds back to the bare brown knuckles so that they grow again. They are also relatively large for a fern, growing upto three feet at maximum and their dark green tests tend to curl into a nice curtsey.

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Caring for Ferns

fernAlthough ferns are extremely hardy, possess a strong survival instinct, and grow in places where other plants can’t thrive, they still need some care and attention. It’s important to keep the soil well-drained and full of organic matter to keep them healthy. It’s also crucial to divide them when they get larger so that they do not interfere with each other’s growth.

Lastly, while ferns aren’t exactly appealing to most garden pests, slugs are a major problem as they tend to devour nearly everything in their path. These pesky mollusks don’t usually appear during winter, but they can prove troublesome the rest of the year.

Gardeners looking to add some green to their gardens during the winter season should think about ferns. Not only are they easy to maintain and grow in places that seem inhospitable for most plants, they can grow and thrive all year round.