Ferns add a tranquil cool environment to the garden. A great place to sit and unwind from the day’s summer heat. Planted in the right position, ferns can grow well even in Adelaide’s harsh climate. Great for that awkward shady spot in the garden.
Ferns need a rich well-composted soil in a shady spot, with protection from sun, wind and frost. Either under a tree or in a shade house is ideal. A good watering system is essential to give them the growing conditions they need to thrive. It is also a helpful to have an overhead misting system, which keeps the humidity high and therefore stops the fronds from browning during the hot weather. Adding a pond to the fernery not only adds interest but also more humidity into the environment. Mulching is very important to keep the soil moist and the plants roots cool. Ferns like to be planted close together which creates their own micro-climate. There are many ferns that grow well in Adelaide, but if a large area is to be planted out you can use other tropical plants like Aralias and Philodendrons. Fertilise regularly in the warmer months using a specific fern fertiliser or use other fertilisers at half the recommended dose.
Ferns in hanging baskets add a real taste of the tropics to your outdoor areas. There are many types of hanging baskets on the markets, from decorative wire baskets to plastic and self-watering hanging baskets. Wire baskets while looking great do dry out very quickly and will need to be watered several times a day during the hot weather. Plastic baskets protect the soil from drying out as quickly, and self-watering baskets keep the plants roots moist for longer still. On really hot windy days you may need to put the baskets on the ground in protected spot. A dripper system set up in your hanging baskets will alleviate the headache of trying to keep the plants well-watered while you are away from home. Hangers can be submerged to the top of the basket in a large container of water to rewet the potting mix, which can become non-wetting. Do this once a week or as needed, remembering they will be quite heavy once rewet, so leave to drain before trying to hang up.
Given the right conditions, ferns can do well inside. Bathrooms and kitchens are great spots because of the higher humidity in these areas. Ferns, like most plants, do not like our heating or cooling systems. Therefore it is important to keep the humidity up to them to maintain a healthy, lush, disease free plant. A saucer filled with pebbles and water is a great spot to place your fern for extra humidity. If possible it is always a good idea to spell your plants outside in a shady protected environment.
A well set up shade house can be a wonderful addition to the garden giving many hours of pleasure. With good watering and misting you can create a lush tranquil space to enjoy. Shade cloth needs to be green, 70-80% for best protection from the harsh summer sun.