One of the most fabulous aspects of spring is the wide variety of blooms and foliage that we see coming into the garden center everyday. In houseplants, we get most excited about the fern shipment full of bright green foliage as far as the eye can see. Ferns seem simple, but are they really? These plants are not only some of the oldest living things in the world (even older than the dinosaurs and us humans), but are made of a very interesting system of rhizomes and fronds that come together to make an amazing show of uncurling leaves and shades of green.
What Makes Up a Fern?
The main parts of a fern are the roots, the rhizome, and the frond (or the leaf). Although roots are common on all plants, rhizomes are special to only a few. A rhizome on a fern helps produce the roots of the plant and can come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the variety of fern. Generally, ferns will either grow upward from a single, large rhizome or they will have a creeping rhizome that individual fronds will sprout from. As the rhizome grows, you will see fiddleheads (or uncurling ferns popping up from the center or edges of the fern depending on variety.
A good example of a single rhizome fern would be a bird's nest fern, while a creeping fern example would be a rabbit's foot fern.
How Do Ferns Make More Ferns?
Since ferns do not reproduce with seeds like many plants do, they use spores to make new ferns. You will often find spores on the back of fern fronds in dotted lines along the leaflets. When the fronds are tapped or brushed against, the fern will drop spores that will settle into the ground and hopefully spring up new ferns. Ferns can drop millions of spores in a season, but only a handful will make it into full fern-hood.
PRO TIP: Oftentimes, new fern owners will mistake their ferns’ spores to be an insect-like scale, which attaches similarly to the bottom side of foliage. If you are ever unsure about your new fern friend’s leaves, you can always ask our Green Team experts for advice on care.
Is There a Perfect Fern for Me?
Our greenhouses carry ferns all year-round in a wide variety of sizes and types. However, spring is the time to start bringing your ferns out of the house for the season of porch lounging and shady patio decor arrangements. There are 3 varieties of ferns that you need to know for your porch or patio this spring:
- Boston Fern
- Macho Fern
- Kimberly Queen Fern
Boston Fern -
Also known as a sword fern, this is the plant that probably comes to mind when you think “fern”. The Boston fern usually is presented as a specimen of fronds that tends to drape over in hanging baskets. Line your covered porch with baskets, or even take the hangers off and re-pot the Boston fern in a container with your favorite spring annuals.
Macho Fern -
If you're the gardener that loves a big show, the macho fern is the right frond for you. This upright-growing beauty gets its name from the wide leaflets and large fronds. Line your entryway with these ferns and you are sure to make a statement this spring and summer.
Kimberly Queen Fern -
This upright fern grows tall and wide with delicate leaflets that reminds some of lace. Kimberly Queen ferns give off classic beauty vibes and are one of those must-have essentials to pair with your spring garden.
Pair all of these ferns together for a frond-tastic porch or patio this season! Nothing compares to the enjoyment of the light shining through a deep green frond in the morning with a cup of coffee and a book in your hand. For more information on care and how ferns will work in your garden (indoors or out), come ask our Green Team members at our year-round locations in Virginia Beach, or one of our Garden Markets popping up this spring all over Hampton Roads.