Hardy Ferns

Tough, deer-proof plants for the deepest shade

Ferns have been around for millions of years, and yet many species today look much like they did millions of years ago. Currently, there are between 10,500 and 15,000 known species, which are extremely diverse in form and function. They grow across the globe, mostly in the tropics. However, hardy ferns grow primarily in temperate and artic climates, with natural habitats in woodlands and wet lowlands, but they tend to tolerate both hot and cold temperatures. Considered some of the best plants for shade, ferns thrive in the low-light conditions where other plants will not grow.

Although non-flowering, hardy ferns are graceful and elegant plants with highly textured foliage. The plants average around 1 to 3 feet tall and wide and typically have fine, ferny fronds in various shades of green. However, there are species that grow much larger; species that have bronze, burgundy, or silver foliage, sometimes with a metallic tint or a bluish cast; and species that have broad, thick fronds, which gives them a bolder texture.

Having stood the test of time, these sturdy, strong-growing plants are highly versatile, adaptable to difficult conditions, and exceptionally easy to grow. Moisture-loving plants, hardy ferns are excellent for growing in boggy areas, especially near streams or ponds. And since most ferns spread and colonize over time, they make great ground cover. But they're also great container plants, for indoor or outdoor growing. Hardy ferns are virtually maintenance free and, perhaps best of all, deer proof.