Posted by Matt Schwartz: In my opinion, ferns get little or no respect from most gardeners. Most people don't want to waste their time with fern names, culture, etc. I think gardeners need to treat ferns as any other garden plant, and learn to properly ID them, other than 'it came from my neighbor's backyard.'It's hard to discuss ferns when you don't know what it is.
Grace (PA/Zone 6): Matt, as someone with a backyard that is 1/2 shade, I love ferns! I bought this house two years ago and am still trying to identify some of the ferns planted here. I'm amazed at the way they grow via spores. And nothing cheers up a porch like some huge ferns in hanging baskets (which I have been able to winter over - don't just compost them!)
Lynn Hansen: I use ferns as an accent plant to the rounded foliage of hostas. I especially like Japanese Painted ferns with their deep foliage help bring out the color in plain leafed hostas.
Brigitte: We have a spot full of ferns where they are sheltered and they grow up to 5ft tall. Ours are the river ferns (native). In the spring you can actually eat the fiddle heads. You steam them just like you would asparagus.
Betty (calz10-Sunsetz17): I have some ferns (Japanese Painted Ferns) I want to increase/multiply. I've checked all my gardening books, but not one says how to propagate ferns.
So what does one do when one wishes to increase one's species ferns?
Matthew Schwartz: Some ferns spread by rizhomes, others by runners, others by a variety of methods. Generally speaking,
you will always use vegetative means of propagation to retain the desired characteristics, never sexual propagation. For the painted fern, the only vegetative method is division. However, other ferns reproduce in a multitude of interesting ways: Spore,Bulbils on frond,
plantlets on tip of frond, runners, rhizomes. A good example of a bulbil producing fern is the proliferous shield fern [Polystichum setiferum 'proliferum'] It multiplies phenomenally, developing numerous plantlets from bulbils at each pinnae axis, which then grow when contact with soil is made.
Skip MNZ4: I don't know much about it but I have tried both spring and fall. Also in between. Maidenhair Fern was divided and moved in the spring just before the little crosiers started to appear and they did fine. I have divided and moved Royal Fern, Cinnamon Fern, Interrupted Fern and Ostrich Fern in the middle of summer; Japanese Painted Fern and Sensitive fern in the fall and they, too, did fine. If they are healthy plants and you give them adequate water they will be fine.
Stephen Nyikos: I would recommend spring unless you can be sure to mulch them so they don't heave during the freeze/thaw cycle. Either is OK. Guess it's the chocolate vanilla decision. ;)
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