Forum home Plants

Fern recommendations please

MeomyeMeomye Posts: 849
I have no knowledge of ferns, having never 'owned' one but feel I would like to. My garden is chalk based and I would like to situate it in semi shade/shade and would like one that changes colour if possible. I have perused Doodia Media and wondered if any one has any other ideas? I know Carol Klein mentioned a 'Rainbow Fern' on one of her programmes but when I looked it up they seemed to be just green?  I would love to see some pictures of your ferns in situ. Many thanks.


  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,228
    On chalk you'll need to avoid ferns that prefer acid soils (unless you can grow them in pots or create an acidic bed for them).

    Dryopteris erythrosora (Autumn Fern) tolerates chalk soil, can stand a little sun and will survive dry conditions. It changes colour from limey green, to golden, and with coppery tints over the course of the year.
  • KeenOnGreenKeenOnGreen Posts: 1,790
    According to Crocus (not sure how expert in ferns they are), Dryopteris, Polystichum, Polypodium and Asplenium are OK for chalk soil.

    I second D. erythrosora, it's our most colourful fern and the fact that it is evergreen is another plus.  I don't have any decent photos of ours

    Our other most colourful fern is Athyrium niponicum v. pictum, shown below on the left.  The RHS site doesn't show this as tolerant of chalk, so may not be suitable in the ground for your garden.

    The fern in the top left pot is Polystichum setiferum plumosomultilobum, evergreen and fine for your soil.  The fern on the bottom right is Cyrtomium fortuneii, evergreen, lovely zig zag leaves, and the RHS say this is fine for chalk.  The two ferns, bottom left and top right, are Dryopteris wallichania, suitable for chalk.

    One person's idea of shade/semi-shade is different from another.  We grow all of our ferns in as near to total shade as possible, although we have grown D. erythrosora and D. wallichania in part-shade, and with regular watering they did OK.  Beware, they can become addictive!
  • MeomyeMeomye Posts: 849
    Thank you so much @KeenOnGreen for your advise and lovely pics. I was hoping you would reply as I know you love your grasses and ferns! I will peruse and research your suggestions. Thanks also to @Loxley for your suggestions and making me aware that all ferns are not happy in chalk. 
  • PianoplayerPianoplayer Posts: 624
    @KeenOnGreen can I be nosey and ask about your very stylish wall planters? They look good. Do you plant into them, or put the pot in? Thanks!
  • KeenOnGreenKeenOnGreen Posts: 1,790
    Thanks @Pianoplayer They were from here.  We liked them to start with, but ended up putting our ferns into terracotta pots on the patio.  I found it hard to get the watering right in the plastic pots, as they are quite small, and have tiny breathing holes all over the front.  The plants were either too dry, or I flooded them with too much water.

    You plant directly into them.  We used them to grow Tumbling Tom tomatoes for a few years, and that worked very well.  We made a wooden frame for them, which you can see in the attached photo.  We painted it up to match our summerhouse and it looked great.  

  • PianoplayerPianoplayer Posts: 624
    @KeenOnGreen many thanks for the info - and lovely summerhouse!
  • pitter-patterpitter-patter Posts: 2,200
    I used to have dryopteris erythrosora and can definitely recommend it. I love adiantum ferns as well.


    Adiantum pedatum (and photo under) with Arachnoides simplicor 

    Adiantum x mairisii

Sign In or Register to comment.