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Fern colour differences.

micearguersmicearguers CambridgePosts: 590
The picture below is of three Polystichum braunii (Braun's holly fern), bought at the same time at a garden centre. The middle is in soil, the rightmost one is in a section of fairly decayed wood, and the one on the left is in less decayed wood. They are in the same spot and receive similar light levels and to me seem equally healthy (but I could be wrong). I assume the different mediums that they are in have led to the different colours. @Paul B3, I thought this was interesting in the light of my recent request for a fern ID. Another thing is that I often find ferns difficult to photograph with my (phone) camera. The colours lose intensity, more so than with pictures of other plants and flowers. In this case too the colour is less vivid, but the differences are reflected fairly well. Looking online, all these colours seem to come up when searching for P braunii.


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  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 2,964
    Natural variation in plants seems to be the norm , from cacti to conifers ;very few plants are identical in appearance unless vegetatively propagated .
     I think several factors may be involved here with most plants ; their original habitat , altitude above sea-level , orientation , exposure and pH of the growing medium .

    We used to grow batches of cacti from seed in N.Yorkshire , obtained from a reliable seed merchant (G.Kohres) ; very few seedlings were exactly alike .
    This seemed attributable to their original collection point , with the above taken into account .

    Your ferns look very healthy and cared for ! As you probably know , a lot of them can tolerate full-sunshine . It would be interesting to reflect on the appearance of your plants if some were in deep-shade  and some the opposite .




  • micearguersmicearguers CambridgePosts: 590
    I'm in East Anglia, which can be fairly dry. I've often read that few people expect ferns to thrive under such conditions; but in the same breath it is said that in dry conditions ferns need to be in shade. That's what I have done, although part of it is that I have only one really sunny border and two or three (small) shaded borders that I treat as woodland. So I have no ferns in sun, except for a royal fern that was a bit of greedy purchase for which I really did not have the right aspect. It's now in an experimental minibog in a big ceramic pot (with puddled clay no less). I take your point though, sunlight can have a big impact on colour. A lot of plants in nurseries are vegetatively propagated (certainly nearly all varieties I assume), and there is now also tissue culture. A web search yields this: "Ferns are generally very easy to propagate through plant tissue culture" and these ferns from Braun certainly made the impression it was a large-scale operation in the GC. In this case it may really just be the growing medium.
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 2,964
    Similar climate to yours , I live in E.Lincolnshire ; as a crow would fly approx. 3-miles from the sea , with the Lincs. Wolds a stonesthrow away !

    I grow several ferns (contrary to advice) in full sunshine in my central flower border ;

    Adiantum capillus-veneris (Black maidenhair fern) and Adiantum pedatum positively thrive here , in fact the former I have divided and given away several times over the years .
    Blechnum penna-marina (Alpine Fern) also relishes the conditions .
    Male fern ( which grows anywhere) plus Athyrium felix-femina (Lady fern) grow well too . Polystichum setiferum 'Herrenhausen' seems to 'spore' around , started with one and now have four !!
    I'm trying Arachnoides aristata 'Variegata' , but I'm finding this one difficult to establish . These plus several others are in full sun and wind and quite a free draining but neutral soil .
    I've never tried Osmunda , maybe give that a go sometime .
    You are probably correct regarding the ferns and the growing medium at the GC .
    That's amazing in itself nowadays , a garden centre propagating its own plants ??
  • micearguersmicearguers CambridgePosts: 590
    That's very interesting! Some overlap with my ferns; I have the same polystichum and also neolobatum (lovely). Then the eared lady fern which does very well, and many dryopteris, the most dramatic of which is cycadina atrata. I love asplenium trichomane (I grow it in a pile of rocks aka dry stone wall), and have one blechnum spicante which does well. I assume you take care to establish the ferns? Fantastic that your polystichum spores, I got mine at considerably greater expense. I have adiantum x mairisii, a little bit worried it will be muscled out of the way by the nondescript viola (not sure which species it is). My point about the medium was more about the way they grow in my garden, one in soil, one in decayed wood, one in wood but not as decayed. I don't think the GC propagates its plants, a lot of these ferns come from the Netherlands (looking at the labels), and I also think a lot of growers there will be on top of the cheapest/fastest propagagation methods, but that's more of a guess.
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 2,964
    I (and my wife) made the almost fatal mistake of attending a plant fair last Sunday , near to Caistor in N.Lincs.Beautiful day and beautiful scenery only added to the experience . In aid of the NGS apparently , so a good cause then !
    I don't know why we do these things , as my garden is filled to capacity already !

    Anyway , amidst the panoply of unusual perennials bought , I acquired three more ferns (which will interest micearguers)!!! SEE BELOW .
    I've no space left for more plants , but I can't help myself .

    1) Dryopteris coreanomontana , with its lettuce-green new fronds ; looks fragile but is hardy .
    2) Doodia media ; new fronds are a beguiling pinkish/bronze/green combination ; very nice  !
    3) Dryopteris sieboldii , with its leathery 'stags-horn' like fronds should be interesting .

    Now the perennial (excuse the pun) problem ; " Where can I plant them ??"
    Undoubtedly I'll be wandering around like an automaton vaguely seeking a planting position for the next few evenings .
  • micearguersmicearguers CambridgePosts: 590
    Hehe, I can picture myself in the same situation, and the automaton-like wandering sounds all too familiar. A solution will present itself ... in my case usually realising that something else can be put in a pot or I persuade myself it is ready to give up the ghost. Last time this happened I had two sickly Cyrtomium fortunei -- these now have temporary accomodation on the pile of my best compost in order to make way for other ferns. This reminds me that in Cambridge botanical garden I saw Cyrtomium falcatum which I've been keeping an eye out for ever since. And it reminds me of your D sieboldii, both are very textural, sieboldii is even described as 'jurassic' (I did not know it, just searched it). Wonderful fern! Many of the interesting ferns seem to come from Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan. Doodia media, what a name, and apparently a startling colour effect. The first, D coreano montana also looks like a fine fern from the images I see. I'm sure I would have succumbed in the same circumstances. Ferns are so rewarding, long-lived and I love this 'jurassic' ambiance they create. Riches, enjoy :)
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