Within the niche of non-flowering ornamental plants, ferns like the autumn fern are very popular. This is largely due to the fact that the autumn fern is a perennial plant, needing minimal maintenance. It is compatible with most weather conditions. Autumn fern is popular for its bright-green color that is sustained for most part of the year, making it a popular landscaping plant. People planning to develop autumn fern borders or carpet areas in their gardens should have a basic understanding about the various aspects of this plant.
Autumn Fern Basics
Autumn Fern is also called the Dryopteris erythrosora. It is also referred to as the Pink shield fern because of the slightly reddish hue its fronds develop. It is an evergreen, herbaceous fern, ideally grown in slightly-cold, hardiness zones of 5 to 9.
Autumn Fern Landscape Considerations
Autumn fern is usually grown in combination with other, flowering plants. Being a fern, it is grown for its ability to provide a dark-green background to exotic flowers. The thick foliage of this fern makes it ideal for establishing outdoor borders. The dwarfed nature of autumn fern makes it ideal for residential gardens. Autumn fern usually grows to 18-24 inches in height and about 18 inches in width. It is also used as a ground cover plant because its perennially-green appearance.
Autumn Fern: Basic Care
Autumn fern is a very undemanding plant. Some factors affecting its growth pattern have been listed below:
1. Soil Type
The soil may not be very rich in terms of nutrition but it should drain well. Usually, potting soil mixed with some humus and perlite is recommended. Adding some charcoal chips or fir bark bits ensures faster draining.
This fern needs minimal fertilization with a water-soluble fertilizer. Ideally, the fertilization should be done on a monthly basis, particularly before spring. Using slow-release fertilizers is highly recommended since this ensures sustained nutrition for the soil.
Autumn fern has very few pest-related problems. The only pests known to cause some degree of damage are scales and mealy bugs apart from the occasional problem of aphids. Maintaining proper precaution during the transplanting time ensures that pest-related problems are easily avoided. Use of pesticides is recommended in serious infestations only.
The soil should be moist throughout the year. Using lukewarm water is recommended. Misting with warm water is known to fasten the early growth.
Autumn fern is a shade-loving plant. It needs a completely-shaded area in the garden. A few hours of bright sunlight too can prove damaging. In most cases, bright sunlight can scorch the autumn fern.
6. pH Balance
The soil should be slightly acidic for best results. However, autumn fern is known to adjust to most soil types if the required supplementation with fertilizers is done.
This fern cannot survive in high-temperature zones wherein daytime temperatures are high. Autumn fern can adjust to high humidity and winter zones. It can survive temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit with ease. Moderately-low temperatures with cool shade for most part of the day is best suited for the autumn fern.
8. Growth Pattern
This fern is famous for its horizontal growth pattern. The young fronds quickly ripen and need periodic pruning. It is advised to cut back the dead and mature fronds towards the beginning of the spring season. After the first, few months of initial growth, autumn fern spreads rather slowly. However, the growing ferns need some handling as some degree of intertwining is usually expected.