Q:

How do you care for an outdoor fern?

A:

Quick Answer

Ferns thrive in shady areas that are well-drained and high in organic matter, but one should not let the plants dry out, according to White Flower Farm. Mulch ferns with a layer about 2 inches deep of pine needles or composted leaves to retain moisture and keep the root system cool. Water as necessary throughout the growing season.

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How do you care for an outdoor fern?
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Full Answer

Most fern varieties tolerate poor soil, but they are very sensitive to fertilizer, which should only be used in early spring in the form of a gentle slow-release fertilizer, according to White Flower Farm. Cut the fern fronds close to the soil line after a killing frost in the fall.

After the ground freezes, cover the fern bed with pine boughs or salt marsh hay to protect the plants from winter's cold and ground heaving. Remove the ground cover when the weather gets warmer in early spring. If the winter has been unusually dry, White Flower Farm suggests thoroughly watering the ferns, since they grow best in evenly moist soil. The only pests or diseases that can usually bother ferns are slugs and snails. If slugs infest the ferns, sprinkle diatomaceous earth, available at any garden center, around the base of the plants, or use a slug bait.

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