How do you take care of a flowering fern?

Answered by Jarrod Smith

Taking care of a flowering fern requires some specific conditions to ensure its health and growth. Here are some detailed steps to follow:

1. Soil Preparation: Flowering ferns thrive in slightly acidic soil, so it’s important to check and adjust the pH level if needed. Aim for a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. You can use a soil testing kit to determine the acidity. If the soil is too alkaline, you can add organic matter such as compost or peat moss to lower the pH. Ensure that the soil has good drainage to avoid waterlogging, which can harm the ferns. Remove any weeds or debris from the planting area to prevent competition and allow the ferns to establish well.

2. Sunlight and Shade: Flowering ferns prefer sunlit locations, but they can also tolerate partial shade. Ideally, they should receive at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight each day. If you’re planting them in a partially shaded area, make sure they still get some direct sunlight during the day. Avoid placing them in full shade as this can inhibit their growth and flowering.

3. Planting: Space the flowering ferns at least 3-4 inches apart to allow room for their future growth. Dig holes that are slightly larger than the root balls of the ferns and place them in the holes at the same depth they were previously growing. Gently backfill the holes with soil, ensuring that the ferns are firmly planted but not too deeply buried. Water the newly planted ferns thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots.

4. Watering: Flowering ferns require consistently moist soil to thrive. Regular watering is necessary, especially during dry periods. However, it’s important to avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases. Check the soil moisture regularly by inserting your finger into the soil up to the first knuckle. If it feels dry at that depth, it’s time to water. Water deeply, allowing the water to penetrate the root zone, and avoid wetting the foliage excessively.

5. Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the ferns can help retain moisture in the soil and suppress weed growth. Use materials like wood chips, straw, or shredded leaves. Keep the mulch a few inches away from the fern stems to prevent rotting.

6. Fertilization: Flowering ferns generally don’t require heavy fertilization. However, a light application of balanced organic fertilizer in early spring can provide nutrients for healthy growth. Follow the package instructions for the proper amount to use. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can cause excessive foliage growth at the expense of flowers.

7. Pruning: Regular pruning is not necessary for flowering ferns. However, you can remove any dead or damaged fronds to maintain the plant’s appearance and health. Trim them back to the base of the plant using clean, sharp pruning shears.

Remember to observe your flowering ferns regularly for any signs of pests or diseases. Treat any issues promptly to prevent them from spreading. With proper care, your flowering ferns will reward you with beautiful blooms and lush foliage.