Real World Gardener Blechnum Ferns are Plant of the Week

December 28th, 2014

 REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at www.2rrr.org.au and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.

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The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on http://www.cpod.org.au/ , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition. The new theme is sung by Harry Hughes from his album Songs of the Garden. You can hear samples of the album from the website www.songsofthegarden.com

PLANT OF THE WEEK

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Blechnum "Silver Lady." photo M Cannon

with Karen Smith editor of hort  journal magazine www.hortjournal.com.au

After mosses and algae, the first land plants on earth were ferns.

Did you know that fern fossils of a group of now extinct ferns called Glossopteris can be found in various parts of Australia still today and these will be in the order of 200 million years old?

What’s that got to do with plant of the week?

Nothing really other than it’s a fern and the foliage looks like a cross between a tree fern and a cycad

Blechnum ferns grow in conditions that if you already grow ferns you would go ah yes- humid, cool but not cold, and filtered light as you would find under evergreen trees.

Given the right conditions indoors or out, blechnum ferns can be lovely ferns that will round out your fern collection.

Blechnum ferns...”Silver lady”

Silver Lady is a form of Blechnum gibbum, and is a dwarf tree fern.

Silver Lady’s is a fast grower and great for those shady parts of the garden.

Silver Lady has a spread of around a metre, you need a size of pot diameter of around 40cm, planting up from a 15cm-20cm pot size.

Silver Lady is probably at its best when multi-planted and it adds a cooling ,yet tropical, feel to the garden.

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Blechnum ferns do best in moist, free-draining, compost-enriched and slightly acidic soil in a shady location.

Will grow in a wide range of climates from temperate to sub-tropical locations however Silver Lady needs reasonable ventilation and won’t tolerate frost. Mulching is recommended.

Keep the soil moist throughout the year. In winter, this may mean a weekly watering; in the warmer months, increase the frequency.

Containerised plants should generally be watered more frequently than in-ground plants. Water when the top layer of potting mix appears dry.

Try not to over-water Silver Lady as this may cause root rot.

It’s also best to use drippers, rather than overhead watering, so the foliage avoids staying wet for long periods.