Monday, June 15, 2009

Plant of the Week - Autumn Fern

Plant of the Week

June 15th, 2009

Autumn Fern
Dryopteris erythrosora
Japanese Shield Fern

In the midst of our Rhododendron bloom season, we started talking about posting blogs with information and images of our garden. I did some quick mental calculations, and even though we hadn't added but a few this year, it would take us over three years just to do the unique Hostas in the garden. Only a few? Yes, only three or four. But last year we added almost 30 new varieties. A little overboard I suppose, but how else do you acquire 140 varieties in the prior five years?

Wait... three years.

Hostas are a way different story when it comes to our garden. They are not the only plant we have. I just used them as the example of the quantity of plants we care for and about.

This week we chose the Autumn Fern because this is the time of year is when it earns it's name. The name comes from it's autumn colors, which appear in the spring on the new growth. By mid summer, all new growth has finished and the plant is completely green.

Native: Enormous range of China and Japan
Hardy: 3 degrees F to 109 degrees F
Growth Habit: Spreading, but not invasive
Growth Rate: Slow
Plant Habit: Upright

Height: to 2 feet
Spread: to 3 feet

Propagation: Division or spores
Leaf: Spectacular spring color

Water: Moist, but not soggy.
Sun: Shade

These two ferns first came to the garden in 2005 as small plants. By mid 2006 the two plants were crowding their mates in the miniature garden area and were placed in roomier locations

The Autumn Fern does not have what you might know as a typical crown. The plant spreads by underground stems, slowly getting wider. The root ball was found to be surprisingly large during it's several moves. It has been moved in spring, summer and fall, each time without incident.

This fern is classified as evergreen. The winter state is not showy, but it does maintain it's green color throughout. We usually remove the last of the beat-up remaining foliage in early spring, then wait for the show of it's new color.

It is the last to emerge with new growth in our fern collection.

Although our two are not in 'shade' completely, they do just fine.

The Autumn Fern is on our 'Highly Recommended' list for those who live in an area which can accommodate this tough performer, and have enough shade and water to provide it with the environment it prefers.

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