Bladder Fern - Cystopteris Bulbifera
The Bladder Fern is often called Mountain Bladder Fern because it grows in mountainous parts of the country such as Utah, Colorado, Alaska, and Canada. Although it may look small, a mature Bladder Fern can be up to three feet tall and spread from nine inches to a foot. The blades grow from 2.5 to 5.5 inches long and have leaves called fronds, as is typical with ferns. They are medium green. The edges are triangular. Healthy plants have fronds that are springy. The fronds grow on a stalk that is usually black and can grow to 12 inches in length. The Bladder Fern does not produce flowers.
Many people plant Bladder Ferns in rock gardens because they can tolerate less than desirable conditions and thrive. However, they do prefer soil that is moist and drains well. Bladder Ferns provide a thick, luxurious, and attractive look to any garden setting as well as near ponds and rivers. They prefer full to partial shade and grow well in areas with trees.
The Bladder Fern reproduces by dropping spores that develop on the underside of the leaves or fronds. There will be small brown bumps or bulblets under the sheets, and they contain the spores or sori. This is where the Bladder Fern name originated. Many gardeners prefer the Bladder Fern because it produces rapidly. Each of the fronds may produce more than fifty bulblets. This plant provides an excellent way to have plenty of ground cover in a short time as it spreads quickly and provides a natural look.
Bladder Ferns can be grown indoors in pots as well as on porches where they receive enough shade. They require only a minimum of water and yellow leaves can be trimmed, enhancing their look. When planted outdoors, the leaves will turn brown and die during the winter. Wait until spring to remove these leaves as they help to protect the Bladder Fern in cold weather. When trimmed, new growth will develop.
This delicate perennial fern typically grows in groupings of 12 inches high and 24 inches wide. The plant forms long fronds of three to six inches long with deciduous leaf blades that can be grown up to two feet long. The leaves are a light to medium green in color throughout their life. The bladder fern gets its Latin name from the little bulblets that form on the undersides of the fronds. These bulblets will eventually fall off and produce new ferns, blanketing the area with lacey green carpet.
A particular favorite of gardeners, this type of fern is the perfect option for providing ground cover as it proliferates rapidly and will spread to cover an area in as little as a season or two. Each frond can produce over fifty bulblets, indicating the ease by which it spreads. This type of fern grows so well in the shade that it's perfect for planting underneath trees or anywhere that is mostly shaded. The addition of bladder ferns to a home garden adds an air of wildness to an otherwise organized space, as these plants are commonly seen in nature.
Bladder ferns are an excellent addition to any home garden as they are easy to care for and grow in soil and shade conditions that many other plants do not. The bladder fern is happy in full or partial shade and prefers rocky soil, mainly limestone. This type of fern thrives in moist conditions and adapts to any PH level soil, but does require good drainage. Bladder ferns do best in areas with little competition with other plants. As winter sets in, the bladder fern's leaves will start to turn brown and die back. This dead growth protects the heart of the plant through the winter but should be removed in the spring to make way for new growth.