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Eastern Wood Fern
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Adaptable, easy, perky, and evergreen, Eastern Wood Fern is a thoroughly satisfying little Spirit that brings fresh greenery to dark spaces all year long. Its restrained growth is a plus as well. While some Ferns become tall and imposing, and some spread (too) quickly, Eastern Wood Fern maintains a compact habit, and it stays put. It’s tough, too! Although Eastern Wood Fern enjoys regular moisture, it tolerates more dryness than most Ferns. Use it at the base of trees or planted among boulders in a woodland garden. It also looks sharp in those challenging skinny spaces shaded by tall buildings.
Ferns give a Jurassic Park feel to the landscape. These ancient Spirits, which existed with and even long before the dinosaurs, speak to us on a primitive level. They bring to mind an era we can only imagine, with lush ferny plants covering the ground as well as taking the form of tall trees. In modern gardens, their cool green fronds make shady spaces seem calming and peaceful. Eastern Wood Fern, a.k.a. Marginal Shield Fern, is a noble North American native found all over the eastern United States and into Canada. It loves wild woodland spaces and rocky, north-facing cliffsides.
Got deer? Ferns are usually a safe bet where deer are a problem. They provide needed greenery in the shady woodland garden spaces where deer may come looking for a meal, but deer tend to leave them alone. Eastern Wood Fern is troubled by few pests of any kind and is relatively carefree.
How to Grow
Although Eastern Wood Fern is one tough Spirit, treating it well will reap rewards. This means giving it a premium spot in the landscape where it will receive gentle morning sun or dappled sunlight throughout the day. It needs shade when the sun is hottest. This Fern also appreciates rich, organic soil that holds some moisture but drains well and doesn’t stay soggy after a rain. Regular irrigation is important for lush growth, especially if plants are competing with tree roots for water. Eastern Wood Fern is evergreen in places where winter isn’t too brutal. You’ll still want to cut back the old fronds before new ones appear in mid-spring.
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