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Selaginella: Moss Or Fern?

by: Shelly Nold

IF YOU ARE A FERN OR MOSS LOVER, this group of plants may be right up your alley. Selaginella, commonly referred to as spike moss or arborvitae fern, has been around for more than 400 million years. These plants look more like a moss than a fern, but are technically considered a fern ally. Ferns and fern allies reproduce by spores rather than seed like most plants.

THE GENUS SELAGINELLA is composed of more than 700 species with most being native to tropical areas. They are very diverse in terms of size and growth habit: some are creeping while others are upright. They also vary in hardiness. Some are native to dry regions of Mexico and the western United States, and others are native to wet tropical forests.

THEY ARE BEST GROWN AS A HOUSEPLANT or summer annual that can be over-wintered indoors, although some selaginellas are considered winter-hardy throughout Kentucky. They prefer low light and consistently moist soil. Their color and texture will add interest to any space. They are well-suited for contemporary or Asian-themed interior or garden spaces. Spike moss is beautiful all on its own, or you might consider incorporating this subtle, grassy green plant into a mixed container.


ASK THE GARDENER

by: Angie McManus

I have six winterberry bushes that have never produced berries in five years. I discovered these “girls” needed a “boyfriend,” so I got them two. Should I now prune the bushes back or leave them alone and see what happens?

Yes, these deciduous female hollies need a male that flowers at the same time to pollinate them. One male can pollinate up to five females within an acre, so two will be sufficient for you. They do not need to be planted next to each other, just within the same acre.

Pruning is not really required unless you are removing dead, diseased, or crossing branches. Pruning can also be done to thin and shape your plants, but otherwise they will require little to no pruning if planted in a location where they can grow to their mature size.

Thinning your shrubs will allow more light to filter through them and rejuvenate older plants, but your bushes are still young. Not being able to see them I cannot say for certain, but I would just let them be this year. Next year your female bushes should be full of berries.

Make sure your shrubs are planted where they will receive a minimum of six hours of direct light, and if you have not fed them recently you might consider giving the females Holly-tone or a similar plant food this spring. Let the males become established for a year and then feed them as well.


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