Designing With Ferns

There are several different ways ferns and their close lookalikes can be worked into nearly any kind of landscape.
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Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Beautiful but Lacking

Ferns are lush and exotic specimens all by themselves or in small groups.

Fun With Ferns

Nothing like a whimsical accent—in this case, a cobalt blue bottle stuck in an evergreen Japanese painted fern—to set ferns off!

Out of the Woods

Who hasn't at one time or another felt at peace in a quiet woodland fern glade? Bring a slice of this ancient scene into your own garden.

Boggy Buddies

Many ferns thrive in moist, humid conditions, making them ideal for planting around pond gardens—especially close to splashing waterfalls or fountains.

Classic Summer Perennial

Many ferns have spring and summer fronds, followed by bronzy fall colors and are gone by mid winter. Use them as lush seasonal accents.

Winter Surprises

Some ferns, such as this bold holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum), are evergreen right through the winter.

Tough as Nails

Ferns are surprisingly hardy, often found growing in cracks in the mortar of stone walls.

Accents for Ancient Walls

Another example of a fern—two, actually—growing into and toning down an ancient wall.

Tropical Touch in an Unlikely Spot

In warm parts of our country, ferns can often be found on shaded walls, especially around pipes and over toe-holds.

Tone Down a Rock Wall

Tuck ferns and bits of moss between large stones of a wall or border for a truly naturalistic effect.

Make Yourself at Home

A mass of ferns can turn an otherwise bare ground under trees into a lush woodland.

Perfect Touch

Adding a classical statue or even something whimsical brings attention to the ferns, and the ferns frame and soften the accent piece.

Whimsy in the Fern Glade

Even a very inexpensive piece of whimsy can help ferns stand out better, as with this airy maidenhair fern.

Beyond Hanging Baskets

Huge staghorn ferns are about as strong an accent as any wall needs—or can support. This one is grown in potting soil wrapped in sphagnum moss, wired to a board.

Wall Garden Delight

Various ferns are planted in potting soil held in place by felt cloth, and tucked strikingly into a cove cut in the wall.

Older Than Dinosaurs

Horsetail (Equisetum), which was much larger in Jurassic days, is a fern-like companion to equally ancient real ferns. Plant where there is room for both to run wild!

Birds of a Feather

Asparagus fern (Asparagus 'Sprengeri') is a member of the lily family—not really a fern—but is a close lookalike that's tough enough to grown in hanging baskets without a lot of watering.

Foxy Fern Lookalike

Foxtail fern (Asparagus meyeri) is another fern imitator worth including for its durable and distinctly fern-like plumes.