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Search Results for ' Polystichum munitum'

PAL Questions: 4 - Garden Tools: 1

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Keywords: Berberis, Vaccinium ovatum, Polystichum munitum, Amelanchier, Acer circinatum, Soil stabilization, Soil erosion, Slopes (Soil mechanics), Corylus, Alnus, Philadelphus lewisii

PAL Question:

Can I plant groundcovers, shrubs, and trees to stabilize a steep slope?

View Answer:

There are several resources which will help you in selecting plants to prevent erosion and mudslides on your slope.

Please note that these articles are merely suggestions and should not be construed as advice. We are librarians, not engineers!

None of our standard books on trees mentions the soil binding quality of tree roots. However, the Miller Library does have very good technical books and articles on slope stabilization. (For example, Slope Stabilization and Erosion Control: A Bioengineering Approach, edited by R.P.C. Morgan and R.J. Rickson, 1995.)

I do want to note one thing that many articles mention: no amount of established vegetation will hold a steep slope if other forces are present that would contribute to a landslide.

The Department of Ecology website has a list of appropriate plants.

Additionally, there are a number of books with information on the subject. Vegetative Contribution to Slope Stability at Magnolia Park (by Kathy Parker, 1996) recommends Oregon grape (Mahonia), which she suggests for gentle slopes.

Other smaller plants she lists are:
Polystichum munitum (native sword fern)
Vaccinium ovatum (evergreen huckleberry)
Symphoricarpos albus (snowberry)

Larger shrubs in her list:
Alnus rubra (red alder)
Philadelphus lewisii (mock orange)
Sambucus racemosa (red elderberry)

Small trees:
Acer circinatum (vine maple)
Amelanchier alnifolia (serviceberry)
Corylus cornuta (hazelnut)

For steeper slopes, Parker says that they may not be good candidates for vegetative rehabilitation unless you put in some kind of structure. She says that Jute mats can be used in conjunction with native seed, mulch, and shrubs, if carefully anchored. She also mentions a Weyerhaeuser product called Soil Guard.

Steep Slope Stabilization Using Woody Vegetation (by Leslie Hennelly, 1994) has a plant list, as well as a chart which indicates plants used to control erosion, the degree of the slopes, and the rate of success in resisting erosion.

Two titles which focus more on the garden design aspect of planting on a slope are Hillside Gardening : Evaluating the Site, Designing Views, Planting Slopes (by William Lake Douglas, 1987) and Hillside Landscaping (by Susan Lang and the editors of Sunset Books, 2002).

Season All Season
Date 2008-01-10
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Keywords: Polystichum munitum, Pruning

PAL Question:

We leave for about 5 months in the winter and by the time we get back our sword ferns have sprouted and it's hard to prune the old fronds out without cutting off the new ones. These ferns are in a fairly protected area, so I was wondering if it would be okay to cut off the old fronds in October before we leave? Also would it help if we just cut the old fronds and lay them over the plant to help protect it over the winter?

View Answer:

There are some slight differences of opinion on cutting back sword ferns. It might be fine to cut the old fronds this fall and leave them as protection over the winter, but it isn't really necessary to cut them back until early spring, if at all. The local web site for Great Plant Picks recommends cutting sword ferns to the ground in late winter, or only cutting back every 3 years or so on plants growing in poor soil:

Paghat's Garden, another local gardening site recommends only cutting away dead fronds. Excerpt:

It was once believed it was necessary to cut all the fronds off in February immediately before new growth begins, but it is now the recommendation to only trim dead fronds. By April when the fiddleheads are thickly erupting, any of last year's fronds that have lost their beauty should be removed, but only for looks' sake, removing up to as many as all of them. They'll soon enough be replaced by new. Just don't remove the fronds before winter's final frosts, as the reason this fern adapted itself to keeping its fronds green at least until winters' end is to shelter & protect the humping crown from excessive cold or from sunlight in winter when deciduous trees might not adequately shade the rootcrown.

Since your plants are in a protected area, you might be able to go ahead with your October trimming, but really the main reason to trim is an aesthetic one, so it isn't absolutely necessary.

Season All Season
Date 2007-09-27
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Keywords: Aegopodium, Convallaria, Oxalis oregana, Lobularia, Pachysandra, Galium, Lamiastrum galeobdolon, Sheet mulching, Euonymus, Shade-tolerant plants, Polystichum munitum, Native plants--Washington, Fragaria, Garden soils, Ground cover plants, Geranium

PAL Question:

What is a good way to deal with a gravelly area with a lot of shade? Are there good groundcovers that would be low maintenance? Can the plants grow right in the gravel, or do I need to do something to the soil?

View Answer:

If it's pure gravel, you can just make a border (with rocks and/or wood, preferably non-treated) and fill it with 9-12" of soil. (No need to remove the gravel.) You buy soil by the cubic yard, so to figure out how much, multiply the length (feet) x width (feet) x depth (.75 or 1), then divide by 27 to get the number of yards. One yard of soil is 3' x 3' x 3', or 27 cubic feet. My guess is that you need less than a yard, but it settles.

You can save money by buying the soil in bulk. Otherwise, you have to buy it by the bag, and they might come in cubic feet. If there is only some gravel, you may be able to get by with the soil/gravel mix that you have. See how much hardpan there is by digging around a little.

If you have lots of weeds in the gravel, cover the whole area with large sheets of cardboard or multiple layers of newspaper (about 10 sheets), overlapped to prevent light from getting through. Then put down a border and fill the area with soil. Smothering weeds depends upon complete darkness more than anything. Therefore, overlapping biodegradable stuff and deep soil is key.

Once you've done that, you can plant right away. Here are some plant suggestions. I've included links to pictures, but you can always find more on Google images or the Missouri Botanical Garden's PlantFinder

  1. Lobularia maritima, known as sweet alyssum: You can plant seeds of this and it will come up this year. It's best to mix it with something else, since it dies down in winter (but self-seeds vigorously and will return). The white seeds the fastest (year to year), but it's nice to mix with purple. Both varieties smell good and attract beneficial insects.

  2. Fragaria x ananassa 'Pink Panda': A strawberry-potentilla hybrid that grows fast and spreads easily, is good weed suppresser, and blooms twice a year with pink flowers. This is an excellent groundcover, will probably be evergreen.

  3. Pachysandra: This plant is evergreen, and though it is not as fast growing as some groundcovers, it does spread.

  4. Hardy Geranium spp.: Geranium x oxonianum 'Claridge Druce' is a variety that spreads well. Another good variety is Geranium endressii 'Wargrave's Pink'; in particular, it seeds itself well. Geranium macrorrhizum has many cultivars, a pleasant scent, and self-seeds readily.

  5. Galium odoratum: Also called sweet woodruff, this plant is prettily scented, probably evergreen here, and spreads fairly rapidly. It produces white flowers in early spring, and it would be particularly good to mix with something taller, like Geranium species.

  6. Oxalis oregana: This native plant looks like a shamrock, and though it is slow to establish, once it has it's very tough and spreads. If you don't get the native Oxalis oregana be careful, as the other species are very aggressive.

  7. Euonymus spp.: These woody groundcover plants are evergreen, and come in lots of varieties like E. fortunei 'Emerald 'n'Gold' and 'Emerald Gaiety'. Do be sure to get a groundcover and not a shrub version of the plant. 'Emerald and Gold' is the most robust choice.

  8. Convallaria majalis: Also known as lily of the valley, this is a vigorous groundcover.

  9. Maianthemum dilatatum: Called false lily of the valley, this native plant is a good choice for shade groundcover.

  10. Polystichum munitum: The native swordfern (or another fern species) might work. P. munitum is basically evergreen, though you might need to cut out some dead fronds in late winter, and makes a good mix with something else. Other deciduous ferns are higher maintenance.

There are also a couple of plants to avoid!

  1. DON'T plant Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum': Commonly called bishop's weed, and frequently used as a groundcover, this plant is very invasive.

  2. DON'T plant Lamiastrum galeobdolon, either: Yellow archangel is very invasive in Pacific Northwest forests.

Season All Season
Date 2008-05-14
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Keywords: Polystichum munitum, Native plants--Washington

PAL Question:

What is the lifespan of our native sword fern?

View Answer:

The native sword fern, Polystichum munitum, is discussed in local author Sue Olsen's Encyclopedia of Garden Ferns (Timber Press, 2007). She does not mention the plant's lifespan except to say that it will suffer and decline with excessive summer heat and humidity (more common in eastern and southern U.S.), and sometimes with long periods of freezing temperatures as well.

Sword fern has a reputation as a tough, long-lived perennial (i.e., returning year after year), and it readily self-propagates from spores, but I have not found any resources which mention the average duration of an individual plant. Most will survive in the Pacific Northwest for many years.

Season All Season
Date 2011-02-18
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Keywords: Polystichum munitum, Polystichum, Plant and garden societies, Ferns, Cyrtomium, Blechnum spicant

Garden Tool: To create a desert oasis look plant a few hardy palms and then add evergreen hardy ferns such as Deer fern (Blechnum spicant),Big leaf holly fern (Cyrtomium macrophyllum), Western Sword fern (Polystichum munitum), and Soft shield fern (Polystichum setiferum). Growing a few ferns usually leads to growing many ferns - there are so many cool species out there. Learn more about the world of pteridology (study of ferns) by joining the locally based Hardy Fern Society. Members receive a packet of fern growing information and a quarterly newsletter; they also participate in a spore exchange and produce the wonderful Fern Festival and plant sale each June. To join the society send $25.00 to The Hardy Fern Foundation, P. O. Box 3797 Federal Way, WA 98063-3797.

Season: All Season
Date: 2007-04-03
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June 24 2013 12:55:25