My Favorite Ferns

Ferns find their way into almost every landscape that I design for a shaded area.  In addition to being shade tolerant and deer resistant, ferns also tend to be incredibly tough.  Read on to learn about my favorite ferns – those I use all the time, and those that I should use more!

Dryopteris erythrosora – Autumn Fern
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(The mature green foliage contrasting with the bronze new growth of a Dryopteris erythrosora)

Autumn fern is my go to fern.  It is reliably evergreen, tough, and looks great year round.  I also like it’s bronze colored new growth, and it’s size of two to three feet in height and width makes it a great bridge between smaller perennials and larger shrubs.

Matteucia struthiopteris – Ostrich Fern
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(A cluster of Matteucia struthiopteris – Ostrich Fern)

I love to use ostrich fern when I can find the right place for it.  A native, water loving fern, ostrich fern will spread vigorously throughout moist soils.  It works great in a low lying wooded area where it has the space to spread without crowding anything else.  Once established it becomes a bold feature in the landscape, with fronds reaching three to five feet in height.  A deciduous fern – it works nicely with spring ephemerals that go dormant as it emerges.

Cyrtomium falcatum – Holly Fern
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(The glossy foliage of a cluster of holly fern)

One of the ferns that I need to use more is holly fern.  This evergreen fern has bold glossy fronds, and I in my yard I have used it to echo the glossy foliage of camellias while contrasting with the texture of azaleas and hydrangeas.  While it is considered borderline evergreen in central North Carolina it has stayed evergreen in my yard since I planted it a few years ago.  Consider planting it where it can contrast with variegated or fine textured foliage.

Interested in adding ferns to your garden?  Contact Bright Leaf Landscaping at 919-475-1015 or fill out our online contact form here.  Design and installation are our expertise, and we are always happy to meet with new clients to discuss potential projects!