Athyrium filix-femina (L.) Lady Fern The Lady Fern is only found in the United States and Alaska. This beautiful fern will look wonderful in any damp shadow garden. The lacy pale green leaf stands out among other broad, dark-leaved, shade-tolerant plants. The root system of this plant can grow large for a fern, up to 4 feet long!
The Lady Fern was named after Athene, the Greek goddess of wisdom. Her image was used by sculptors to represent the fern because it was believed that gazing upon her face would give one knowledge about life.
You can find the Lady Fern in wooded areas in full sun or partial shade with average soil conditions. It does best in moist but not wet soils with some sand mixed in. The plant needs regular water during dry periods but won't die if given too much water. If you live in an area where winters are cold, bring your pots inside for the winter. They don't like freezing temperatures.
This is a fast-growing fern that can be divided every three years or so. In fact, division is necessary to keep this plant from getting too big for its britches. You should be able to divide your plants when they're about half grown. Use a sharp knife to make sure you don't cut into any roots before they've completely separated from the mother plant.
In comparison to other ferns, the Lady Fern is sun and dry soil tolerant. Growth is best in full to partial shade and in rich, wet soil. It requires an average of six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day during the summer months. Winter temperatures should not drop below 20 degrees F.
Lady ferns have fronds that grow out from a central stalk with between 1 and 5 pairs of leaflets. The leaflets are ovate to lance-shaped with rounded or slightly pointed tips and smooth edges. They range in color from dark green to red-brown when mature. The underside of the leaf is usually a lighter color than the upper surface. There are no flowers; instead, small seeds called pyrenes are produced at the end of slender stalks called spore cases. Each seed case contains about 50 seeds.
The name "lady fern" comes from the appearance of the plant which resembles a young woman's hair ornament (the "fern").
There are several varieties of lady fern available. Some varieties are variegated, meaning they have white or yellow patches on their leaves. These colorful variants are more attractive than ordinary green lady ferns and do not require as much sunlight.
Light to deep shade is ideal for all ferns. A few plants, such as Lady Ferns (Athyrium filix-femina), may flourish in full sun in the north if the planting location is wet. If rain is insufficient, water ferns on a regular basis, and don't let the soil dry up entirely. Avoid fertilizing ferns when they are young; wait until they are about half grown before feeding them again.
Ferns like well-drained soil with some organic matter in it. This will help prevent thatch build-up on the surface which can reduce light penetration and cause other problems for the plant. All ferns benefit from an occasional watering during dry periods; allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again.
Many types of fern are available, but not all species can be cultivated successfully. Before you buy any fern, check which species are acceptable for cultivation in your area. There are several ways to identify ferns: by their fronds which are usually divided into leaflets, by their seed capsules, or by their roots. Many people think that polypody ferns are weeds because they grow rapidly and have numerous branches, but these plants are actually ferns that have been cultivated for their decorative value. They require little maintenance and can be used as filler plants in borders, along pathways, or inside gardens.
Ferns are easy to grow and provide beautiful foliage for the garden.
The name maidenhair fern really refers to the Adiantum genus, which has roughly 200 distinct species found all over the world, from New Zealand to the Andes. Many species are especially well-suited to growing on rock walls near waterfalls, where water seepage and air moisture keep them from drying up. The fern is also used in landscaping for its fine green foliage that adds depth and texture to a garden.
Maidenhair ferns were widely used by Native Americans as food and medicine. They made tea from the young shoots in cases of fever and headache. A decoction of the root was used as an emetic. The leaves were an important source of fiber for clothing and rope. When tied in bundles the long strands could be used to make baskets or mats.
In the Victorian era, maidenhair ferns were popular plants for indoor gardens. They require little sunlight or heat and will grow in almost any soil with some moisture available at least part of the day. This makes them good candidates for creating a living wall in an interior space where other plants might not survive or thrive.
Today, maidenhair ferns can be found growing in parks, along road sides, and in other natural habitats across the United States. There are several species of maidenhair fern, most notably Adiantum capillus-veneris, which has soft feathery leaves and grows in colonies at high elevations.