Ferns in baskets or ground add beauty

Published 10:29 am Monday, June 5, 2023

By Eddie Smith
MSU Extension Service

I believe one of the easiest ways to add curb appeal to your home is to add beautiful ferns to the landscape. Ferns can also be brought inside to add greenery to indoor spaces.

One of the best ways to highlight ferns is to plant them in hanging baskets or pots.

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Many varieties of ferns grow as a bush of green foliage, so lush that the fronds spill over the sides of the container. Raising this display up to eye level where it can be properly admired is one of the best ways to showcase their beauty.

Fern hanging baskets thrive in our Mississippi heat and humidity if they are kept in partial to full shade. They do best in filtered light, although a little morning sun is permissible.

If ferns sound like something your house or yard needs, there are many different varieties to choose from.

A really popular but classic fern for hanging baskets is the Boston fern. The graceful and arching branches are lush with a rich, green color. You see these used all over the South in hanging baskets on front porches.

The Kimberly Queen fern, also known as the Sword fern for its lush, sword-shaped fronds, is gorgeous with both upright and sprawling growth habits. The leathery and toothed, dark-green foliage provides great texture. It also is a great choice for our hot and humid summers.

The Kimberly Queen tolerates more sun than does the Boston, and it can put on an enormous amount of growth in a year. They handle indoor conditions well for those who want to overwinter them.

Many gardeners don’t realize that, if it is planted in the ground, Kimberly Queen has quite a bit of cold tolerance, which frequently allows it to return from ground level in the spring. Mulching, of course, is mandatory.

Living up to its name, the Macho fern is a big, brawny fern that sports bright-green fronds with bold, broad leaves. Before the name Macho became attached to this fern, it was most commonly called the broad sword fern.

Growing up to 3 feet tall and wide, this plant makes a statement hanging on the porch. Despite their size potential, Macho ferns are commonly sold as large baskets that look great.

Feed ferns every month during spring and summer using a water-soluble fertilizer, and they will look great all season long. Indoors, ferns require very little fertilizer until you get ready to bring them outdoors in the spring.

Ferns do require frequent watering during the spring and summer. Give your ferns a good, deep soaking and then let them dry lightly before the next watering. Be careful not to overwater your ferns. More ferns are harmed from overwatering than underwatering.

During the winter, you can bring ferns in hanging baskets and pots inside. When growing ferns indoors, choose a spacious area that will allow their fronds plenty of room to shoot out in all directions.

Visit your local garden center to see what ferns they offer to add some beauty to your landscape or home.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Eddie Smith is a gardening specialist and Pearl River County coordinator with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. He is also host of the popular Southern Gardening television programs. Locate Southern Gardening products online at http://extension.msstate.edu/shows/southern-gardening.]