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Cultural Tips for Perennial Fern Propagation

Japanese Painted Fern

Fertilizer:

Any well-balanced formula.  Most perennial ferns are light feeders.  Apply liquid fertilizers at 75-100 parts per million (ppm) on alternate waterings.  Slow release fertilizers may be applied at rates of 2-3 lbs. per cubic yard of soil.  Do NOT use both.

Light:

1000-2000 foot-candles

Soil:

Use any well-drained mix, which works on most perennials.  The mix should have enough peat to provide good water holding capacity.  Try to avoid mixes with vermiculite or fine sand, as they tend to plug the air spaces needed for healthy root growth.  Most grow well in shaded landscapes.

Water:

Ferns do NOT tolerate standing water.  Maintain a constant moist level.  Do not allow them to dry between waterings.  Water early in the day to allow the foliage to dry.

pH:

Though most perennial ferns grow best at 5.5-6.5, there are varieties which prefer neutral pH.

Disease and Pest:

The most prevalent problem found in perennial ferns seems to be root rot brought on by overwatering or soils which do not drain well.  This may be controlled by using watering practices, good housekeeping, and scouting.

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