Though difficult to grow, ferns are one of my favorite garden plants. Though I don’t have any outdoors, I have a few ferns growing inside and it’s been an adventure learning to care for them. If you’re thinking about growing ferns either outdoors or in, you might have a few questions about the species. For example, what is the difference between palmate and pinnate ferns? I’ll break it down below and share some of my most coveted care tips.
Palmate Vs Pinnate
Believe it or not, the difference between the two varieties is as simple as the shape of the leaves on the plant. Palmate plants have a “palm” shape that looks like an outstretched hand. Pinnate plants have a leaf shape that is fully attached to the stem, all the way down the spine of the leaf. See the photos below for a visual example:
How To Care For Ferns
No matter if your fern is palmate or pinnate, they need the same basic kind of care. However, outdoor and indoor fern care is very different.
When caring for ferns indoors, make sure that their soil is evenly moist at all times. I recommend checking the soil with your finger every few days, and water when the first few inches of soil dries out. The plant should never be sitting in water. Though anyone in any growing zone can care for a fern inside, you’ll have to make sure your humid is enough to meet the needs of your plants. Bathrooms or kitchens that receive bright, indirect light are great for ferns. Mist the leaves every other day to keep your fern looking lush and full in any other room.
Perfect for shady corners of your yard, they are dramatic and beautiful. Pick out a variety like Lady Fern, Autumn fern, or a Christmas fern because they are particularly hardy and extremely low maintenance. Plant outdoor ferns in an area of rich, well-draining soil and apply regular mulching to help with moisture retention. Many outdoor ferns can grow pretty large in a short time frame. If you find that your plant needs dividing, it is best to do so in the Spring. Most varieties will weather winter quite well, depending on your grow zone.
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