Four Easy to Grow, Shade Loving Alternatives to Hostas
By: Julie Day
Shade Loving Plant #1: Hardy Ferns
I love hardy ferns because there are so many native options. Growing and spreading quite happily in woodlands and near streams, ferns are a low-maintenance addition to your shady garden.
Hardy fern varieties range from 1’ to 6’ tall, so there’s a fern that’s just right for every spot! They also tend to be more deer-resistant than hostas, while providing a gorgeous delicate texture with an arching, elegant look.
Growing Tips for Hardy Ferns
- Light: Full to part shade, with protection from afternoon sun.
- Water: At least 1” of water per week with mulch to keep the soil evenly moist.
- Soil: Rich, humusy soil, similar to a forest floor, with lots of organic matter and compost. Most ferns prefer somewhat acidic soil.
- Division: Divide clumps in fall or early spring.
- Size: Range from 1’ to 6’ high. Some ferns spread through runners, more like a groundcover, while others grow in tidy clumps. Make sure to choose a fern that fits your design.
- Climate: Cold hardiness of hardy ferns varies depending on the type.
- Fertilizer: Feed in the spring with a balanced, organic slow-release fertilizer. Don’t over fertilize.