Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

April, 2007
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Ferns in Pots
Ferns make wonderful houseplants in the right location. Full sun varieties can stand a south- or west-facing window, whereas sun-shy ones need some protection from direct sun with sunscreen film and an outside awning. In the absence of this protection, grow these ferns in a north-facing window.

When ferns are potted in a porous mix containing some horticultural charcoal, you can water less frequently. Providing ferns with a wide-bottom pan as a drip dish that always has at least 1/4 inch of water in it will allow the fern to absorb as much as it needs when it needs it, without rotting. The deeper the drip dish is filled, the fewer times you'll have to refill it.

For a general watering solution, use a quarter-strength fertilizer rather than a once-a-month, full-strength feeding and plain water at other times. This makes nutrients available as the fern requires them, resulting in a healthier plant.

Misting the fronds of a fern may or may not be needed, depending on the humidity levels under which it was grown before you purchased it and the humidity in your home. The fern can be "weaned" from its need for misting by lessening the frequency gradually over a two-month period, as long as sufficient water is available in the drip dish.

Clever Gardening Technique

Infinite Containers
Container gardens can begin with just about any container -- an old wheelbarrow, bathtub, bird cage, "distinguished-looking" shoe, child's wagon, or even just a camouflaged bag of potting mix. If it'll hold soil and a plant, it's fair game. Mounds or cascades of color can come from begonias, petunias, ivy, geraniums, campanula, impatiens, succulents, fuchsias, azaleas, patio or cherry tomatoes, strawberries, and herbs.

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