Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It was second-grade. I was in Mrs. Swisher's class at Central Elementary School. At literature time she read aloud the book Charlotte's Web (oh, I hope my friend Rose isn't reading this -- she HATES spiders, lol). I instantly loved Fern -- I wasn't even sure what a fern was, but I loved this brave, spunky little girl who was lucky enough to live on a farm. Me, a city girl thought her life simply perfect. I wanted to be Fern -- what a gorgeous name she had -- so much better than Gail. Over the years, I have read this book again and again and loved getting to read it to each of my own children. I don't hear or read the word FERN without thinking of the relationship I had with Fern Arable.

All that to say that I have ALWAYS wanted a big old porch fern -- such an old-fashioned thing in my mind....big old Victorian porches adorned in ferns. Well, there are a few things were needed to fulfill that. ONE is a big old porch - got that - and the other was getting over the fear that I'd kill it, lol.

I do fine with growing vegetables and even annuals and perennials, but house plants, as I rule I kill. With the exception of my African Violets, I generally avoid plants in the house. I knew if I took on the commitment of a fern on the porch, the time would come that it would have to come into the house.

Last summer I said that *next year* would be the year I'd finally get one. Next year came around. I did do some research and decided on what kind I wanted and I even shopped (a little bit anyway) and didn't find what I wanted. Then my friend Rose (yes, the same one who doesn't like spiders -- and that is a gross understatment), came in to the office and told me our favorite little plant source for the season was selling everything 50% off. I had given up on a fern for this year but still wanted a hanging basket for my back deck. I scurried on over there. I found a perfect basket -- planted in my red, white & blue theme and scooped it right up.

As the cashier was checking me out we had a conversation about the plants she was buying at 50% -- a couple baskets like the one I bought and a FERN -- what, you have ferns still? -- do you have Kimberly ferns? -- why, yes we do -- I bought not 1 BUT 2 of the hugest, most gorgeous ferns for my porch! Wish me or maybe I should say, wish the ferns good luck -- don't they look stunning on my porch?

I am sharing at Yvonne's Tutorials, Tips, & Tidbits Party! And Sweet Honey is back to blogging and posting to her Potpourri Friday.

How to care for your fern:

Placement - Put your fern in a location with a lot of light but little direct sun. Early morning and late afternoon direct light is enough, with shade during the rest of the day. An area of high humidity is helpful, but with proper watering (see below), a fern will be fine in a drier area.

Because ferns are so fragile, it is important to place them where tBecause ferns are so fragile, it is important to place them where they will not be crowded or brushed up against. Be sure to allow them to have plenty of "personal space" so that they can spread out and expand. When a fern is crowded into a small space, it tends to do poorly.

The Pot - Use a clay pot or a hanging basket lined with sphagnum moss togrow your fern. Plastic pots aren’t good for drainage, and adequate draining is crucial for a healthy fern.

Because a fern’s roots are near the surface, they should only be grown in shallow pots (about 6 inches deep).

Soil and Mixes - Many horticulturists recommend planting ferns with a special fern potting mixture, which can be found at a nursery. Ferns require loose, quick-draining mix. It is also acceptable to use regular potting mix and add about 20% peat moss.

Watering - Over-watering kills more plants than anything else. Only give your fern water when the soil is starts to look dry. Don’t use a plant mister on your fern. It can cause the fronds (leaves) to brown and wilt.

The soil of your fern should be moist, but never wet. Over-watering a fern is a common mistake. Over-watering can damage a plant’s roots, and once the roots are damaged the plant may not survive.

Because ferns like humidity, fill a tray with pebbles and water (enough water to cover all the pebbles) and place the potted fern on the tray.

Fertilizers - Use a high-nitrogen fertilizer once a month, during the growing season. Only use one-quarter to one-half of the recommendations on the fertilizer package.

Pruning - New ferns will not grow from cuttings.

If you notice brown around the edge of a leaf, and the fern’s condition doesn’t improve after a couple waterings, cut off the sick leaf. Also cut off any dead leaves at the base of the fern.

If the whole fern looks bad, or pests have invaded, just cut the whole plant right above the soil and let it grown again.

Re-potting - Ferns should be re-potted at least once a year, and can be divided easily in more potted plants. Just remove the plant from the pot, divide the roots with a sharp knife, untangle the leaves, and place the ferns into new pots.

But how do you know when to re-pot a fern? The basic rule is this: if the roots have reached the sides and bottom of the pot, it's time to re-pot it.

Growing Outdoors - In favorable climates, ferns can also be grown in a shady garden spot protected from wind and heavy rains. Keep the fern out of direct midday sun and make sure it gets enough water to keep the soil damp. A couple inches of organic mulch (for example, chopped leaves) will help keep an outdoor fern healthy. And again, give the fern enough room – it shouldn’t come close to touching other plants.


  1. I love ferns, don't have any right now but for an asparagus. Good tips, yours and your porch look just lovely!!

  1. Kim said...:

    Your porch looks wonderful especially with the ferns. And I think Gail is just as pretty a name as Fern. Do love Charlotte's Web though.

  1. Good luck with your ferns, Gail. I have the big southern porch and always picture ferns hanging too...but they don't like me and they don't like FL sun. I gave up...moved them this year to a nice shady spot in the back yard. So much for my southern porch ferns :(

  1. Honey at 2805 said...:

    Hi Gail! The porch is absolutely divine! Love the red, white and blue! Thanks for the info about ferns. I purchase them every year for use in my backyard. The winter was so mild, that one actually survived even though it was totally ignored (shame on me). But back to the porch. LOVE IT! It would be lovely to sit and visit with you!

    Thanks for welcoming me back. I look forward to seeing you for Potpourri Friday!

  1. I love your porch. I haven't had a fern in years (my grandmother's name by the way)but yours are gorgeous!

  1. candice said...:

    Love your porch!! I really like those pillows. Good luck with the fern

  1. Olive Cooper said...:

    I am delighted you got a fern. It is just about too hot here for me to have one especially because iam not at the same house all the time. I do have one that was inside for a time and is now happily outside in the shade. If it makes it I will be amazed. Your porch is so pretty.

  1. I love your porch and your fern is gorgeous. I am the same way with houseplants ... I have two left that are still alive - I keep praying that they continue to thrive.

    And thanks for the comments on my blog ... I didn't get everything planted that I wanted to this year either - seems like time just slipped away. Maybe next year.

  1. The ferns are pretty and look great on the porch Gail! Best of luck with them:@)

  1. ♥ Sonny ♥ said...:

    I love ferns too and grey porch floors. Your's looks so good. I want mine that color. I'm kinda scared though cause the guys at lowes said the paint might not stay on. Mine is tile and I have sanded it but still dont know if paint would stick..
    keep your fingers crossed for me, please..
    thanks for visiting me and following
    Sonny ~ 155 dream lane

  1. kitty said...:

    Your porch looks so pretty, cozy and inviting Gail! I do love your gorgeous Kimberly fern!! I have a Boston fern and it has done well, but I hear the Kimberly ones are less messy. Thanks for the tips!

  1. Gail said...:

    I love your porch Gail and adding those ferns was the finishing touch! I have six ferns hanging on my front porch and right now they don't look very good. Thanks for sharing how to care for ferns...I need all the help I can get with them. Enjoy your evening, Gail

  1. The porch looks so lovely! The ferns are gorgeous. The paint looks wonderful. I have always wanted a front porch like that. ; )

  1. Your ferns help to make the porch looks homey and welcoming! Love it!!!!

  1. Melanie said...:

    Love your porch! Yes, ferns and big old victorian porches go together!
    I love the Kimberly Queen ferns too, I have had the best luck with that variety. A plus in my book is that they do not shed as badly as Boston ferns, and they winter better than the others! I have 5 ferns on my front porch and they came from 1 fern that I bought over 5 years ago!

  1. bj said...:

    One of my most favorite looks on the whole, entire planet is large ferns hanging on a front porch. I haven't got mine for the summer yet..maybe today. I did buy a sweet potato plant and it is hanging on the porch and growing like crazy. This 103 degree weather makes it wilt every day and I water it every day...not sure how to protect it from the heat and still have it looking pretty on the porch....

  1. Those ferns are beautiful, and they look so pretty on your porch. I bet they'll survive and you'll wonder why you hadn't bought them before. Good luck! laurie

  1. Pam said...:

    My ferns are still going strong! Your porch looks so relaxing. I was in love with Fern's name too. I thought she had such a fun life (and a fun family).

  1. Honey at 2805 said...:

    Back again to say thank you for sharing this loving post at Potpourri Friday!

  1. I love big porches too and wish we had one! Yours looks so inviting and ferns always look perfect on a porch like yours.

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