Spreading Wood Fern – Dryopteris expansa
The Spreading Wood Fern is an excellent choice for gardeners looking for greenery that will grow and thrive in shaded and partially shaded areas. Wood Ferns grow in clumps and feature spreading green leaves (called fronds) that come to a soft point. They are an ideal choice for those looking for plants that will add color and texture but require minimal care.
In the wild, ferns can reach 20 feet in height and 10 feet in width. However, it is rare for domestically planted ferns to reach these extremes; most garden ferns top out at around 3-4 feet. Ferns grow relatively slowly and, if planted outside, may take decades to outgrow their space.
Wood ferns do best when grown in soil that is rich, well-drained, and consistently moist. If necessary, however, they can tolerate dry shade for short periods.
Once planted, ferns require a minimal amount of care. That makes them a fantastic choice for part-time or occasional gardeners. They will happily draw the nutrients they need from leaf litter dropped from surrounding trees or the occasional offering of compost mulch. They are also amazingly hardy plants and can tolerate extremes of heat and cold.
Ferns once composed a large part of the diet of the dinosaurs. Modern-day animals and insects, however (except for slugs), tend to avoid munching on them.
You can plant wood Ferns in shaded areas where other plants refuse to grow or add color and texture to an existing shade garden. They also offer simple yet elegant ways to dress up the landscaping around a pool or pond. While planted in gardens, ferns can be put in pots and either hung or placed in strategic locations around a porch or balcony.