Deer Fern - Blechnum spicant
Deer Fern, also known as Hard Fern is a species of fern with origins from East Asia, Northwest America, and Europe. There are two theories of how Deer Fern received its unique name. Some people think it's because it is a vital source of winter food for deer. Others believe that the Native Americans watched the deer rub the ends of their lost antlers, and then the natives used the ferns to treat skin ailments. This perennial has sterile leaflets that are glossy and flat, and its younger leaflets are very thin and narrow. Deer Ferns need to be kept constantly moist and should be planted in acidic soil with a pH level of 5.0-6.5. These ferns are hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5-8. They can grow at heights from 12 to 24 inches and 24 inches in width. With a moderate growth rate, Deer Ferns can also be grown in difficult places such as underneath trees or deep shade. These plants also need a lot of water in the Summer, a moderate amount of water in Spring, and an average amount of water in the Winter. Deer ferns are best for those who are looking for an addition to your shade garden. Their companion plants are Mukdenias, Hostas, Lungwort, Bleeding Hearts, and Columbine. The addition of Deer Ferns with these companion plants is excellent because Deer Ferns are very easy to take care, especially because they grow best under the shade. For best growth results, make sure to cut back old fronds after new growth starts in spring. If you are looking for plants to take indoors, Deer Ferns are great for that too. Take care of them as you do outdoors. Remember to keep the soil moist, and feed monthly except in winter with an all-purpose houseplant food.