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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Matteuccia, Ornamental ferns

I have ostrich [deciduous] ferns [on the grounds I keep] and I was wondering if there is anything special that I should do for them for the winter. What I have been doing is putting ground up leaves in the bed, but beyond that, I'm not sure if there is anything else I should do.

Answer:

Andrew MacHugh's book, The Cultivation of Ferns (1992) says the following (from p. 47):

"In autumn, a mulch of well-rotted leafmould, peat or bark chippings should be given to ferns planted in open sites. [...] In winter the fronds of deciduous ferns can be cut back to an inch above the crown. In areas subject to frost, the decayed fronds will provide some protection to the plant and should not be removed until the spring growth of new fronds shows signs of emerging."

Date 2016-12-02
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Ornamental ferns, Dryopteris, Pruning

My wood ferns (now about 4 feet in diameter)have fronds which are now partially brown. Can I prune all the 'old' fronds off and let the new ones take over without damaging the plant? When should I do this?

Answer:

Sources are divided on when and whether to prune wood ferns (Dryopteris). Some consider Dryopteris "self-cleaning," meaning that the old fronds will eventually disintegrate on their own (Gardening with Woodland Plants by Karan Junker; Timber Press, 2007). If you are inclined to tidy up the look of your plants, they can be pruned of their old fronds after new growth begins in the spring (be careful not to cut the new fronds), or according to other sources, in late February or early March before new growth starts. Rainyside Gardeners and Great Plant Picks, two Pacific Northwest resources, offer more information. Rainyside advocates pruning once there is new growth, and Great Plant Picks advocates pruning before new growth begins.

Date 2016-12-23
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April 11 2017 13:50:16