The Q&A Archives: Ferns

Question: What ferns can I plant in zone 9? I need some for shade as well as sun. Different heights would also be nice.

Answer: Ferns are usually happiest in full to part shade, although morning sunshine is tolerated by a few. None of the available ferns will grow in full sunshine or withstand direct hot afternoon sunshine so I hope your garden beds are mostly shady! The first suggestion is Leatherleaf fern. It has deep green fronds rising in dense clusers. This plant grows up to 3' tall and wide. Alaskan fern has narrow, dark green fronds and looks terrific in woodland settings. This fern naturalizes well and the mature size is about 2' tall and 3' wide. Sword fern has erect, narrow, sword-shaped, bright green fronds. It's fast growing and grows 3'-4' high and wide. Another suggestion is Autumn fern. It's a small gern with coppery-red fronds turning to deep green. This plant spreads by underground stems to 15" wide and 1 1/2 - 2' tall. You might also include Crested Lady Fern in your collection. This plant produces lacy fronds to 3'-4' tall and wide. Enjoy your new garden!

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