Costa Farms

 

Passionate about plants? So are we! Costa Farms is a wholesale grower that discovers, develops, and grows plants for your home and life -- indoors and out. We’re your online gardening resource for plant info and inspiration. Our articles, blogs, tips, and photos help you use plants to beautify your living spaces and enhance your life.

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Fabulous Ferns

Indoors or out, ferns are a joy to grow. These happy shade dwellers are frequently found growing in hanging baskets, but they mix well with other plants that share their love of cool, dark spots. By Doug Jimerson

Plant in Colorful Pots

Give your ferns an extra punch of color by potting them in bright containers. Here, a Boston fern planted in a bright red pot looks terrific paired with a variegated spider plant in a contrasting yellow pot. Both of these beauties can be brought inside in the fall (learn how to save tropical plants before winter!) and kept as houseplants over the winter.

Go Big with Macho

If you want to make a big, bold statement, you can’t go wrong with a Macho fern. These easy-care giants can grow 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide so they are ideal for large baskets or planters. Macho fern prefers bright light with afternoon shade and may sulk if you place it in a dark room indoors. They are hardy outdoors in zones 9 and 10.

Pair with Tropicals

Ferns make great companions for colorful tropical plants. In this gorgeous blue pot, a small Boston fern is teamed with red hibiscus and mandevilla. The finely divided fern foliage adds texture and interest to the container. Although the tropical plants require full sun, the shade-loving Boston fern will still survive because it’s protected by the foliage of the larger plants.

Perk Up a Window

Although not technically a true fern, foxtail fern offers bright green foliage held aloft on pyramidal spikes that can eventually grow 3 feet long. Young plants work well in window boxes or containers either alone or partnered with shade loving annuals and perennials. In this window box, a foxtail fern holds court with creeping Jenny and coleus.

Be Creative

Ferns will grow almost anywhere as long as you protect them from the hot, afternoon sun. Here, a large Kimberly Queen fern happily thrives in a rotted-out tree stump framed by purple-leaved loropetalum. The upright form of Kimberly Queen fern makes it a top pick for urns or tall, narrow planters.

Use Indoor Ferns Outside

Traditionally grown indoors, ferns such as rabbit’s foot, staghorn, and bird’s nest love to take a summer vacation outdoors. Place your housebound favorites in a protected location outdoors and watch them produce waves of new foliage. This perky little rabbit’s foot fern spends its summer break on a shady patio wall. Just remember to bring them back inside before the temperatures drop in the fall.

Don't Forget Perennial Ferns

Add color and interest to shady spots in your backyard by including a generous helping of perennial ferns. These rugged plants can tolerate heat and cold and make great companions for hostas and other shade dwellers. Here, Japanese painted fern and Pulmonaria are a colorful combination in this shady border. Other hardy perennial ferns include: Ghost fern,cinnamon fern, lady fern, wood fern, Fortune’s hardy holly fern, and Japanese holly fern.

Brighten an Entry

Use ferns to perk up the dark, dreary corners of your home. On this north-facing screened porch a large Boston fern and a dainty-leaved Maidenhair fern provide a leafy backdrop for the gorgeous flower spikes of a pink moth orchid. A mirror was added to reflect additional light into the shady corner.

Keep Them Hydrated

Macho and Boston ferns thrive when they are kept slightly moist at all times. Trouble is, ferns growing in hanging baskets can dry out quickly when summer winds kick up. To keep your ferns in top form, install a drip system that delivers water to the plants as they need it. Here, hanging Macho ferns are hooked up to a drip irrigation system that quenches their thirst even when the homeowners are away.

Flank a Porch

Because foxtail fern is so drought resistant, it’s a great choice for locations where rainfall is spotty. Here, for example, a vintage concrete planter filled with foxtail ferns flanks a front entry where it only receives an occasional drink from the garden hose. These plants have nodules on their roots that store water during dry periods. A mulch of seashells helps keep the soil moist, too.

Clip Ferns

When your fern gets too large or ungainly, prune away the excess fronds and use them as a filler for flower arrangements. The fern's arching, finely divided foliage provides a lovely background for more colorful cut flowers. Here, a front door basket is dressed up with an enchanting mix of bacopa,begonia, Euphorbia, backed up with a spray of fancy fronds clipped from a Kimberly Queen fern.