Ferns for Container Gardens – A Listing of Most Popular Ferns for Growing in Containers

Ferns for container gardens are fun to grow and readily available. Below is a listing of the most popular ferns for growing in containers.

I haven’t gone into great detail as this list is only meant as a quick reference. For more information on how to tend to your plants check out Growing Ferns in Containers.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but is only meant as suggestions to get you started growing ferns in container gardens.

Asparagus Fern
Light: Part Sun, Shade
Zones: 7-9
Plant Height: 24-36 inches
Comments:
Although asparagus fern is listed in the fern category, it is not a true fern because it does not produce spores. This fern is related to the Asparagus plant and produces seeds on long, feathery needle-like stems. This fern is a favorite of florists and one of the more popular plants in containers and window gardens. Although it will grow in full sun, the color tends to wash out of the foliage. For this reason, partial shade is the preferred location.

 

Autumn Fern
Light: Part Sun, Shade
Zones: 5-9
Plant Height: 20-24″ inches
Comments:
The name of this fern comes from the fact that new fronds are a coppery-red when they start. As the fronds mature, the color of the fronds change to a glossy, bright green. An interesting way to add color to your background or container plantings. This fern does not die back, but is an evergreen plant that loves moisture.

 

Boston Fern
Light: Part Sun, Shade
Zones: 9-11
Plant Height: 24 inches
Comments: The number one fern grown in containers in the USA. The most common use of this plant is for home decoration and in hanging baskets. These ferns are extremely long lived and just continue to grow larger as they age.

 

 

 

Dwarf Birds Nest Fern
Light: Part Sun, Shade
Zones: 8-10
Plant Height: 12 inches
Comments: This fern is a little smaller and hardier the regular species of Bird’s Nest Fern. The ferns grow more upright than the larger Bird’s Nest Fern. Becasue of it’s size, it is a favorite of container gardeners and also favored as a house plant. This is an evergreen fern.

 

Eastern Maidenhair Fern
Light: Deep Shade
Zones: 5-8
Plant Height: 1-2 feet
Comments: The most graceful and delicate of all North American native ferns. Lacy, soft green leaves with a dark center. One of the top ten perennial ferns. Fronds are arranged in a half circle like a fan. Hardy and easy to grow in a deep shady location with moist soil. Deciduous. AKA: Five-Finger Maidenhair Fern

 

Hart’s Tongue Fern
Light: Part Sun, Shade
Zones: 6-8
Plant Height: 12 inches
Comments:
These glossy, leathery fronds which are about 3″ wide, will last for weeks in floral arrangements. An evergreen fern that does not do well in hot, humid weather. Deer resistant.

 

Hay-scented fern
Light: Part Sun, Shade
Zones: 3-8
Plant Height: -15-30″ inches
Comments: This fern gets its name from the scent of the plant which smells like fresh hay when you brush up against it or bruise the fronds. This fern is easy to grow and will tolerate drought conditions, but never let it dry out completely. Easy to grow in almost any conditions. Deer resistant. Deciduous (shedding fronds annually).

 

Holly Fern
Light: Part Sun, Shade
Zones: 7-10
Plant Height: -22″ inches
Comments: This fern has shiny leathery foliage. It is very long lived. Moisture-loving but will tolerate some drought. Excellent for growing in containers or grown as house plants. Evergreen.

 

Japanese Painted Fern
Light: Part Sun, Shade
Zones: 5-8
Plant Height: -12-20 inches
Plant Width: 2-3 feet wide
Comments: Japanese painted fern has become a very popular fern in the last decade. It’s wide range of colors from silvery-gray to purple, red to burgandy, and shades of green, account for its popularity with container gardeners. This was a PPA (Perennial Plant Association) “Plant of the Year” pick in 2004. Colors become more vibrant each year as it matures. Check the label to be sure of the color if you are looking for a specific color choice. Tolerent of heat and humidity.

 

Kimberly Queen Fern
Light: Part Sun, Shade
Zones: 9-11
Plant Height: 24-36 inches
Comments: The Kimberly queen fern is perfect to be grown as a potted plant indoors, or outside in your containers. They are an easy care fern that are a favorite with new gardeners. Kimberly queen ferns have been shown to have detoxification properties and will help clean up indoor air.

 

 

 

Maidenhair Spleenwort
Light: Part Sun, Shade
Zones: 4-8
Plant Height: 3-6″ inches
Comments: This tiny, miniature fern has a place in any container garden. This is a good choice for terrarium gardens. It loves growing in crevasses and rocks. Prefers shady, stony areas. Deer resistant.

 

Mini Holly Fern
Light: Part Sun, Shade
Zones: 8-10
Plant Height: 8″ inches
Comments:Lacquered brilliant green holly foliage decorates this compact evergreen fern. In colder areas it’s an easy and excellent choice for an indoor plant as it tolerates low light, smoke and drought. Deer resistant. Drought resistant.

 

Rabbit’s Foot Fern
Light: Part Sun, Shade
Zones: 2-9
Plant Height: 24 inches
Comments: This fern gets its name from spider-like rhizomes, more popularly called rabbit’s feet, that grow over the edge of the pot. This easy to grow fern loves shade and doesn’t mind if you forget to water it occasionally. It also will tolerate occasional cold down to freezing temperatures. Ferns can be propagated by breaking off about 6″ of the foot and pinning it to moist potting soil or spagnum moss. Evergreen and extremely long lived.

 

Sunset Fern
Light: Part Sun, Shade
Zones: 5-9
Plant Height: 20-24″ inches
Comments: New fronds emerge with brilliant pink to orangey-red foliage. Ferns slowly change to an olvie-green color with a sheen as they mature. Semi-evergreen, erect arching crown. A beautiful fern that is easy to grow.

 

Western Maidenhair Fern
Light: Part Sun, Shade
Zones: 3-8
Plant Height: 12″ inches
Comments: A popular fern species that is elegant, graceful and delicate. Does not like areas with hot humid summers. Deciduous.

 

 

Now that you’ve read over this listing, there may be some ferns for container gardens you’d like to try. If you are having a hard time locating some of these fern varieties, many of these ferns can be found at the Big Dipper Farm a source for hard to find fern varieties.

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