Below is an informal transcript of questions and answers from my garden segment and lots and lots of photos for you to enjoy.
HOW ARE FERNS DIFFERENT FROM MOST PLANTS?
Ordinary plants will flower and bear seed from which a new plant is born.
A seed is basically a "fertilized plant embryo in a dormant state."
A seed is the product of male/female plant reproduction, with all the "hanky panky" already completed.
Just add water and watch it grow!
Not so for ferns.
Ferns do not grow from seeds; they "evolve" from the action of spores.
The fern's lifecycle involves two generations of plants that give rise to the fern plant as we know it.
Have you ever seen little black or brown dots on the backside of a fern frond and thought it was a pest or disease?
Far from it.
These little dots are called "sori" and they contain hundreds of spores.
A simple way to describe spores is that they are a couple of steps behind on the reproductive work of the seed and have to play "catch up."
A fern drops a spore in the ground, giving rise to an independent tiny plant called a gametophyte.
The gametophyte is charged with the job of actually creating the very male and female parts within itself needed to procreate and produce yet another life: the sporophyte!
Stay with me.
If the male part within the gametophyte's cells fertilizes the female part, it gives birth to a plant organism called a sporophyte.
We're finally there!
The sporophyte then grows into the lovely fern plants that we are familiar with.
Wow, that takes me back to high school biology!
If you want to read more about the lifecycle of the fern with all the scientific terms and processes I left out on purpose, here's a link.
Another cool fact about ferns that distinguishes it from other plants is the function of the fronds.
The fronds, or leaves, are responsible for both photosynthesis AND reproduction.
WHAT FERNS DID YOU BRING TODAY?
I brought some common ferns that many people at home may be familiar with.
Notice the different frond styles, textures and colors.
There are infinite differences in ferns. Some ferns creep and grow like vines, others grow small or large tufts, while others grow trunks and are tree-like!
Let's take a look.
Australian tree fern is a slow growing fern that can reach 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide.
As a house plant, it would take many years for it to grow this large.
Another handsome tree fern is the New Zealand tree fern, seen here to the right of the Wardian chest.
The dark, large forrest green leaves create a beautiful shadow on walls.
Sword fern has erect fronds that look nice in the rectangular profile of this window box.
The Pallaea "button fern" has delicate, round, button-shaped leaves that should be enjoyed up close.
The terrarium planter helps seal in moisture so that it doesn't dry out.
Button fern in foreground and hanging Boston fern in background.
I placed the leather leaf fern and lace fern close to each other by design.
Grouping ferns helps them to maintain a higher moisture level.
Notice that I also placed the pots on top of a bed of gravel.
The gravel holds water that contributes humidity to the ferns.
A young lace fern (Woodwardia f.) stays moist and happy in the Victorian-style Wardian chest.
The Blechnum fern bears fertile leaves, with spores, and sterile leaves without spores.
These are called "dimorphic" fronds.
WHAT NEW FERN VARIETIES DID YOU BRING?
Fern collectors are always looking for new cultivars with interesting details.
Here are some from Plant Delights, a specialty plant mail order company.
Many of these new introductions come from Japan, China, India and Hawaii.
I planted the ferns in an assortment of different containers that had an aged look.
The closest one to the left is a broken finial from my garden.
This graceful fern is called “Mama Mia” (Woodwardia o.) and is slow growing to 4 to 6 feet.
As it continues to grow, the glossy fronds are topped with small plants that you can propagate!
This bi-colored gem is actually not a fern.
'Beni Kujaku' is a Selaginella that is sometimes called peacock fern because of its lacy, cut leaves.
Beni Kujaku has a rosette form with a cup-like shape and is a deep green and maroon color.
This plant will stay small and look great in a container!
'Mt. Haleakala' (Adiantium) is a rosy maidenhair fern that will grow into an attractive 1-foot tall x 1-foot wide clump with fronds that emerge rosy red.
The spores on 'Mt. Haleakala' grow along the edge of the leaves, creating a curled effect.
As you may guess, this Adiantium is from Hawaii.
'Hokaido Gem' (Asplenium) is a clumping birds nest fern with long, tongue-like strappy leaves.
'Taiwanese Tongue' fern (Pyrrosia polydactyla) will grow to 1-foot tall x 1-foot wide and boast a textural clump of velvety five-fingered dark green leaves.
HOW DO YOU CARE FOR INDOOR POTTED FERNS?
Lighting and watering habits are two of the most important care practices that impact indoor ferns.
While ferns are shade plants outdoors, often growing under the canopy of taller trees, ferns do need bright light indoors!
During the summer, a south-facing window may let in harsh sunlight that will scorch your fern leaves.
It's best to set the plants away from the window, but to keep them in a room that has natural light.
Pay attention to:
–Proper location – bright but indirect light, 60-75 degrees
–Use well-draining potting soil for ferns
–Water to keep soil moist but not saturated and mist leaves periodically
–Add room humidifier or group plants to slow evaporation.
–Fertilize with slow release granules in spring.
HOW MUCH WATER DO FERNS NEED?
The main challenge with keeping ferns moist is that indoor air tends to be very dry and ferns prefer a humid ambiance.
Between keeping the soil moist and periodic misting, you will eventually learn how much water is best for your fern.
Too much water feels like dripping wet hair, when it actually should feel moist, like hair that is air drying!
Look for signs of too much water, like yellow leaves, wilting leaves, soil that has a bad smell and cut back.
Water and proper soil texture go hand in hand.
Soil should drain well so that water doesn't saturate it.
Shirley explains how to water ferns on Home & Family while Cristina Ferrare, Mark Steines listen.
I found this adorable little mister at the dollar store.
Watch my garden segment video about ferns on the Home & Family Show.
I invited my friend Susan Sherayko, author of"Rainbows Over Ruins" to share her creative problem-solving wisdom on EdenMakers as part of her book "blog tour."
As the Line Producer on the Home & Family Show, Susan has the huge task of supervising the financial bottom line of a daily, Emmy-nominated, national talk show.
When I met Susan a few years ago, I had no idea what overwhelming obstacles she overcame to land her dream job and maintain the positive disposition that is her signature style.
There is a compelling story behind her dimpled smile and confidence.
Susan gave me a copy of her book, which offered me a glimpse into her life, and more importantly, the thinking strategy and tools that form the cornerstone of her success and resilience.
Enjoy Susan's guest blog post, and leave a comment below to enter a drawing for a free copy of her book, Rainbows Over Ruins!
Guest Blogger, Susan Sherayko
Looking at the beautiful spaces that Shirley highlights here on EdenMakers Blog, I lament the state of my own gardens.
We live at the edge of the high desert in California where water is becoming ever more precious.
Our well is no longer producing water so we have to truck it in every two weeks or so.
I’ve made efforts to use drought tolerant plants, but even they need some regular watering.
At the moment, the Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum) is blooming at its best ever.
The rock rose (Cistus), prostate rosemary and purple cacti are holding their own, as well as the plants that “volunteered” to live in our garden spaces.
After 9 years in this environment, I welcome all comers.
If they can grow in our yard, they have earned the right to stay here.
I’m not trying to make excuses for the sorry state of the gardens.
Instead, it occurs to me that the creative thought process I share with others might work well here too.
What if someone applied these techniques to improve their gardens?
Visualize What You Want Your Garden To Look Like
The most important questions to answer first are:
What do you want your garden to look like?
What is its primary purpose?
How will your yard be used?
Do you have favorite plants that will thrive in your specific climate?
Visualizing what you want is fun.
Since I like to journal early in the morning, it is the perfect time to imagine the things I want.
If I were answering these questions, I would see the gardens of my childhood.
My parents lived on the east coast and had gardens filled with roses, irises, azaleas, rhododendrons, daffodils, ivy, a pear tree that survived a hurricane, snowball plants, a lawn, and did I say roses?
They planted roses everywhere, in small gardens around the bird bath and climbing the fences that surrounded the house on all sides.
Compare Your Real Garden To Your Dream Garden
Now, take an inventory.
How do your existing gardens compare?
Do you see a contrast?
The difference between what you have and what you want to have is called a gap.
When you think it’s huge, it’s likely to stop you from making any attempt to work on your gardens, if you let it.
It feels easier to make a long list of all the reasons (excuses) you have for doing without your dream garden.
However, that isn’t the way to succeed at anything, let alone gardening.
The better approach is to catch yourself when you start any negative self-talk and take a different approach.
Ask yourself “Why am I able to improve my garden?” and then make a different list – a list of pro-active positive suggestions that might help.
Make A List of Positive Suggestions
You don’t need to know all the answers right now; however, if you keep asking that question, ideas are bound to come to you.
Then, you can choose one action out of all the potential ideas to start creating a better space.
They don’t have to be massive projects.
In the beginning, it may be all you can do to visit Shirley's blog to get ideas.
Maybe you’ll write a comment and ask for suggestions.
That’s how the creative thought process works.
Keep asking positive questions that point you in the desired direction and you’ll be surprised how many resources show up in response.
Funny, that sounds like a suggestion I can take myself.
Do You Have A Garden Suggestion For Me?
Since the low water situation is having such an effect on my gardens, perhaps you would be willing to share what you do in your gardens when you have a water shortage.
What plants do you recommend to bring color to my high desert, water-thirsty garden?
We experience extreme temperatures: very hot dry summers and cold winter nights.
I would love to see the suggestions you have for me.
Thank you in advance for the help.
To Your Success in the gardens, Susan
ENTER YOUR COMMENT BELOW FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A COPY OF "RAINBOWS OVER RUINS" BOOK DURING OUR DRAWING!
Susan Sherayko is the author of Rainbows Over Ruins, a guide to those who seek to unleash their creative power.
She is the Executive in Charge of Production and Emmy nominated Line Producer for Home & Family on the Hallmark Channel.
Susan is passionate about guiding others to discover how to change their thoughts and attract more successful results.
Bio: "EdenMaker" and "Foodie Gardener" are my online monikers because I design landscapes and edible gardens. I've got lots of kids, lots of dogs and one husband! My passion is design, growing food, and of course, eating! Catch me on the Home & Family show on Hallmark channel as the garden lifestyle expert.
Enjoy my videos and please visit my other blog at FoodieGardener.com