What is the best fern to plant in shade as a perennial in Kentucky and when do I plant it?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Shirley: There a great number of ferns that we can grow in our woodland, shade-loving, perennial gardens here in Kentucky. The ideal planting time is during the fall months when the temperatures are cooler and the plants can become settled before the winter arrives. They can be planted in the spring as well as the summer months, as long as you or someone else will be in town to keep them watered. Planting in the fall is less stressful on the ferns and less maintenance on your part in terms of watering. The following is a list of Kentucky native ferns: leatherwood fern (Dryopteris marginalis), maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), and sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis). Other ferns that worth planting include: tassel fern (polystichum), autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora), ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), wood fern (Dryopteris australis), holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum), ghost fern (polystichum x ‘Ghost’), rock fern (polystichum tsus-simense) and Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum). There are so many to choose from. Visit your local garden center and see what they have available.