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Pale as moonlight, this hauntingly beautiful Spirit makes shady borders shine with an unearthly light. Ghost Fern is a dramatic plant with fine, feathery fronds that are frosted with a bright silvery sheen. It positively glows in gloomy spaces. Use it to add zest to a north-facing foundation bed, a dark side yard, or a patio plating under a shade tree or arbor. It looks especially striking next to deep green–foliaged plants like Rhododendrons, Bergenia, and Siberian Bugloss. You would think a stunner like this would be a diva, but it’s actually quite easy to grow. Highly recommended.
Passionate gardener Nancy Swell once wrote that, because of their wonderful diversity and natural beauty, “ferns are among the nicest possible things to have around.” She cultivated many varieties of Ferns in her Virginia garden, where she also specialized in Azaleas and Hostas. The Ghost Fern arose in her garden as a cross between two beloved species, the Japanese Painted Fern from East Asia, and the Lady Fern from the U.S. and other parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Swell passed away in 2008, but her legacy lives on in this dreamy Spirit, which gardeners now enjoy all over the world.
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. Ghost Fern is troubled by few pests of any kind and is relatively carefree.
How to Grow
Although Ghost 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. Ghost Fern goes completely dormant in winter, coming to life again in mid-spring.
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