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5 Tips for Front Porch Ferns

I can’t have ferns on my front porch.  As a born and bred Southerner, that’s hard to admit.  Our front porch faces due South and a beautiful Boston Fern can’t take the scorching heat of the afternoon sun.  But, you better believe my shady back patio is filled with luscious green fronds in pots and hanging baskets!  Fern flanked porches are a staple of the Southern landscape and given the proper care, ferns are surprisingly easy to grow.  Here are a few tips:

1. Selection

Boston Ferns and Kimberly Queen Ferns are the most popular selections for porches.  Boston Ferns are great in hanging baskets or on plant stands because of the gentle weeping nature of the vibrant green fronds.  Kimberly Queen Ferns have more rigid, upright fronds and are perfect in pots flanking a pathway or entrance.

fern with hydrangeas(via)

2. Light

Ferns prefer bright, indirect light.  A few hours of morning sun or gentle filtered light through the cover of trees is the perfect scenario.

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3. Water

Ferns like moisture.  Keep in mind that their natural habitat is  under the shady, wet canopy of a rain forest.  Consistent and evenly moist soil is essential to maintain a bright green, healthy glow.  Remember that pots and hanging basket can dry out quickly.  Soil should be kept damp but not wet to the touch.

4. Fertilize

Ferns like a monthly dose of plant food, especially in the warmer months.  Choose a water soluble, nitrogen-rich fertilizer for best results.

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5. Over-winter

Ferns are tropical plants and will not tolerate cold outdoor temperatures.  You can try to over-winter your fern by cutting it back in the fall and placing it in a light-filled area indoors.  Remember that even a dormant fern likes moisture and a heated home can dry out a plant quickly.  Give your plant a good soaking in the shower a few times throughout the winter months.  Remember location, humidity and water are essential for an attempt at overwintering.

Hope you’re feeling ferny now!  Check out a few fern styling ideas here.

– Heather Rollins