Growing Ferns and Shuttlecocks

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Growing Shuttlecock Ferns

My ferns are making a spring comeback and this Ostrich Feather Fern looks like its name. As the fronds uncurl its other common name the Shuttlecock Fern will also be appropriate. However its real name is Matteuccia Struthiopteris the only fern in this particular family. To find out more visit The British Pteridological Society.

The fronds distinctive shape make the fern easy to identify. The ostrich fern looks best grown in groups on its own in dappled shade in woodland. The plant spreads slowly by underground rhizomes and can build up large groups.

Cultivating Ferns

  • Ferns grow in light woodland and most prefer damp and an open structure to the soil with a high humus content.
  • Larger types with delicate fronds dislike windy conditions
  • Ferns are shallow rooted and resent being disturbed.
  • Plant in early autumn to allow roots to settle before winter. Avoid relocating ferns once planted.
  • All soil will benefit from added humus but in sandy soil this and a thick mulch are essential.
  • In a harsh winter mulch to protect the crowns.
  • Once the danger of frost has passed the previous years fronds should be cut back.


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A Beginners  Fern Collection

  • Maidenhair fern Adiantum pedatum has delicate fronds on thin shiny black stems.
  • Lady fern has fine lacy fronds and is called Athyrium filix-femina.
  • Ddryopteris filix-mas or Bucklers fern has tall upright fronds. It will tolerate dry conditions
  • Osmunda regalis has massive rhizomes and tall lance shaped fronds. It likes wet conditions.
  • Fern collecting is called Pteridomania.

Fern Facts and Fictions

  • The tightly wound immature fronds, called fiddleheads, are used as a cooked vegetable and are considered a delicacy mainly in North America and Japan. I can’t see my kids ‘eating up their Ferns’ they don’t even eat up their greens still if it is one of ‘the 5 a day…. ‘
  • Many varieties will grow in alkaline soil even though ferns are thought of as acid lovers. Asplenium varieties, Gymnocarpium and Polystichum are lime lovers worth considering.
  • Dyopteris wallichiana will grow to more than 24 inches tall.
  • Ferns do not flower or seed but produce spores.
  • Monilophytes is a modern term for the 12000 strong group of plants known as ferns

For more images of Ferns

Another useful resource for fern identification and information is www.ferns.rogergolding

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