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Ostrich Ferns ships as plants in 4 inch pots.
Ostrich Ferns, Matteuccia struthiopteris, have large, dark green fronds with a vase shaped growth. You will find the Ostrich Fern is a charming tropical looking fern for specimen use. This edible fern has fertile fronds that arise 6 to 12 inches in the center of the clump around midsummer, turning brown by fall. Ostrich Ferns are aggressive spreading plants so do choose planting areas wisely.
Ostrich Ferns are renowned for the fiddleheads that emerge in spring, which are clipped off and eaten in a wide variety of delicious culinary dishes. True edible Ostrich Ferns are difficult to find.
How to Grow: These tall growing ferns are native to marshy areas, little islands, and deltas of shallow streams and creeks. Plant them in humus-rich, moist soil in part to full shade. Great for bog gardens. Plants will tolerate some sun, but will need much more moisture to keep them looking good into late summer. Plants grow from dense, underground runners that spread out in every direction. Crowns can be dug up and replanted in the spring and early summer, planting them right at the level of the soil.
Landscape uses: Ostrich ferns make excellent background plants in the shade garden. Plant them with hostas and other tough perennials and shrubs. Thin plants out as necessary. If you don't want them to take over a garden, restrict them to large areas or areas where their spreading can be controlled.
Planting and caring for bare root ferns, evergreen ferns and container ferns:
Fern plants grow mostly in lightly shaded to fully shaded areas. They prefer moist, rich humus soil with a slightly acid pH (5.3 to 5.5 pH range). Sphagnum peat moss is good to add to the soil for holding moisture and will add some acid to the soil as it decomposes.
The hole should not only be large enough to hold the tuber, but allowing at least an inch or two from the top of the tuber to the top of the hole. The smaller ferns, such as Maidenhair fern, can be planted about 18 to 24 inches apart. This fern, as well as the Christmas ferns and Royal Ferns grow larger and should be planted no closer than 24 inches apart.
Top with a good layer of mulch (shredded bark mulch, aged compost or aged manure mix) or a light layer of straw for added moisture and to keep the ground cool. Water as needed to keep the soil moist. As the ground warms in late spring, the fronds will begin sprouting.
Deciding which end of the tuber is up can be daunting. Sometimes the tip is visible on the top portion and other times there will be root hairs extending from the bottom. If in doubt, the tuber can be planted in a sideways position.
Cutting the fall die back to the ground and applying a fresh layer of mulch will help to protect the fern tubers from popping out of the ground over winter freeze/thaw cycles as well as from squirrels or other critters digging them up for winter food.
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