I attended a great seminar at Zilker Gardens in May on growing tropical plants in Austin. It was incredibly well attended, with well over 60 people in attendance. Two Master Gardeners had presentations, and one of my favorite parts was from Becky Waak, the Master Gardener who designed the fern beds in Zilker Gardens.
Her tips to growing ferns are:
1. Put them in “high light”, such as under a densely shaded tall tree
2. Protect them from the wind
3. They like very rich, organic, high humous soil
4. Use compost, bonemeal and peat for amending the soil
5. They HATE artifical fertilizer of any sort; fertilize with Fish Emulsion.
6. When you plant them: Osmocote + Bone Meal +Fish emulsion + compost (OK, I know this sounds contradictory with the Osmocote listed here, don’t ask me to explain it. I’m giving you her notes.)
7. Water deeply and slowly
8. Use pine mulch and pecan compost to increase acidity of soil
In case anyone else is interested, here is her list of ferns that will do well here. Many of them have to be special ordered, and they all need low to medium light and plenty of water. Her pictures (I wish I had them to show you) were lush and beautiful and cooling to look at in this summer heat.
The top ten ferns are:
Sorry I don’t have pictures, but hopefully you can Google these names and find a good example. I hope to have a fern bed next year, using these ideas.