Native Plant Societies
If you want to rescue more than just ferns from destruction, native plant societies throughout our region sponsor organized plant rescues. To learn more, check out the Web sites of The Georgia Native Plant Society, The Arkansas Native Plant Society, and The North Carolina Wildflower Preservation Society. These sites have educational information, fact sheets, and classes on identifying, cultivating, and saving native plants.
Favorite or New Plant
Native ferns are wonderful, but so are a couple of cultivated ferns that no shade garden should be without. My two favorites are autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora), sometimes called Japanese sword fern, and Japanese painted fern (Anthyrium niponicum). Both ferns bring new hues to the shade garden, providing foliage colors that go far beyond green.
Autumn fern is often evergreen in our region, and the new fronds that appear in spring are blushed with bronze. They ripen to green and take on a shiny gloss in summer, and then redden up again when cold weather returns. It's adapted to USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9. It has healthy mature plants that can stand 18 inches tall.
Japanese painted fern features fronds splashed with silver that really shine when grown near evergreen trees and shrubs. It's adapted to zones 3 to 8. These 15-inch-tall plants look great planted in small masses, and can take a little more sun than many other ferns.