Shade Gardening forum: Fern care ?

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Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Deer Ferns Herbs Dragonflies
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Apr 25, 2014 5:45 PM CST
I have several different types of ferns which are finally bulked up enough to try to figure out what to actually do with them. Last year I experimented with cutting old fronds right back to the ground as the new ones unfurled on my native swords and that seemed to work well. I'm now wondering if I can do the same with all the rest of the ferns, or if this rather drastic action might set back some. Any ideas? They sure look better to get rid of all the ratty stuff from the winter. I have deer fern, maidenhair fern, autumn fern, and some others. Also, is spring or fall a better time to divide them? Thanks.
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Name: Gerry Donahue
Pleasant Lake, IN (Zone 5b)
Hostas Garden Ideas: Master Level
Apr 25, 2014 7:17 PM CST
Spring is better because they have a chance to grow new roots and establish.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Vero Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
Tropical Plants & More
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
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Apr 26, 2014 7:53 AM CST
I agree
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Name: Jewell
South Puget Sound (Zone 7a)
Ferns Region: Pacific Northwest Cottage Gardener Hellebores Dragonflies Ponds
Apr 26, 2014 8:23 PM CST
I trimmed back my deer, and autumn ferns since they took so much frost damage this year. They seem no worse for wear having done it. Might be a little late for trimming them back now without great care. Mine have started unfurling their fronds. Since my native sword ferns have gotten so huge I am hoping that trimming off the old fronds a few years running will help limit their size some. My holly and fish tale ferns didn't appear to have survived our 11F weather this winter.

I divide my ferns after the fronds are mature in early summer. If the divides are smaller I pot them up and place in the shade...oh yeh that is most of my yard Whistling Just make sure they get adequate water during our dry summer season and artificial shade if we get those rare hot days. With our long fall weather I have been successful creating new autumn and deer ferns dividing at this time. Good luck whenever you decide to divide.
Name: Jason
Gold Bar, Washington (Zone 8b)
Apr 14, 2015 9:05 PM CST
we have sword ferns here by the dozens. we always cut them to the ground in mid-march. then cover them with a good 2 inch layer of compost. seems to work well...
Name: Cheryl
Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Plumerias Ponds
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Apr 19, 2015 8:33 PM CST
Ferns grow like weeds here. I cut them down to the ground and often try to pull up some roots to thin then out with little success. But they always, always come back usually bigger and better than before. My Boston and Fishtail Ferns are in pots and protecte in the winter. During those especially hard winters, I have cut them back completely and they come back. However, being in a pot, that just means the root systems get stronger and they will eventually need repotting. 4 of my Boston Ferns are in desperate need of repotting and the 4 Fishtail Ferns are close behind. And I am in desperate need of some time off! However, I don't need 8 pots of newly potted ferns and finding larger hanging pots is hard to find. So until I find a solution, the ferns will stay right where they are.
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Name: Rick Moses
Derwood, MD (Zone 7b)
Hostas Ferns Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Forum moderator Region: United States of America
Region: Mid-Atlantic Region: Maryland Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
May 13, 2015 6:26 PM CST
We cut the dead and previous years' fronds off in early spring, before the new growth appears. We leave it on during the winter to help protect the crown and also remind us where not to dig to squeeze in just one more something. Whistling
Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
Irises Lilies Hostas Ferns Composter Region: Belgium
Jul 13, 2015 3:26 PM CST
I don't see how deciduous ferns could be different from deciduous grasses in that; we alsco cut their old foliage back, in winter OR spring. Same goes for dividing, it's really a personel choice.

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