The 5 Best Heat-Tolerant Ferns

The fern fronds are whimsical, making them an excellent plant to fill in the spaces around your home. The fern plants look stunning as ground covers or an ornamental focal point in the garden. 

You've probably seen native ferns grow in the forests' organic matter. There are various ferns, including Wood fern (Dryopteris) and Polypodium. Ferns are available in various shapes, sizes, and colors, and they can spread out over empty spaces in the yard in a snap.

Many ferns thrive in the shade due to the soil's richness which remains moist longer than in the sun. Ferns are often considered plants that prefer shade. However, many sun-loving ferns thrive in gardens flooded with sunlight. The key is to supply them with moist soil to keep them from drying out. 

Here are 5 fern types that will happily live in sunny areas of your garden:

1. Royal Fern

Osmunda Regalis is among the most water-loving shade perennials. It is a considerable size and is adorned with gorgeous green leaves. It is a fan of semi-shaded areas and can be found amid trees, shrubs, or tall plants. It is best suited for USDA zones 3-8. 

Royal fern is native to North American wetlands and bogs across the Canadian border to northern Florida. 

The Royal fern is a tough ornamental plant tolerant of temperatures, cold, light flooding, heat and droughts. Royal ferns are impressive at maturity, between three and six feet tall and up to eight feet wide. They feature substantial broad, feather-shaped fringes that have a vibrant deep green. The fronds have two rows of smaller, oval leaves with gently rounded edges. The ferns usually develop upright. 

However, they can slide down or be bent over due to the fronds' stress as they age. The Royal fern reproduces by the spore-bearing structure located on the fronds' bottom. They don't require you to fertilize them to help them multiply. Royal ferns like moist, shaded regions. They are tolerant of specific sunshine, but they prefer filtered or dappled sunlight. They thrive in wetlands, bogs, gardens, or near streams or ponds.

2. Bracken Fern

Pteridium Aquilinum is a substantial evergreen fern, an indigenous species in many regions of the globe, including Europe, Asia, and North America. They're a stunning shade of green that will bring life to any shaded space. They are thriving in USDA zones 3 through 11. 

Bracken ferns are found in meadows, woodlands, and other grassy places. They thrive with little to no maintenance and require a shaded spot with a thick, woody, organic material similar to what is found in its native forests and damp but not excessively moist soil. Bracken fern reproduces without the need for care. It reproduces through tiny spores, like dust-like structures that separate from the underside of fronds. 

The wind takes them to the nearby areas where they germinate and grow in new species. It is the reason this fern is such an extremely popular groundcover. It is famous for its vast, triangular leaves at least three feet high. 

Various tiny leaflets in feathery patterns make up the stunning bright green frosts. The fronds typically measure 2 to 3 feet long and between one and two feet wide. The stem of the bracken fern is usually black or dark brown and could be slightly smooth or ridged. The roots of this plant may also be quite large. The Bracken Fern is an incredibly distinctive plant that can discern its presence in the wild due to its triangular fronds resembling a shuttlecock's shape. 

3. Maidenhair Fern

Adiantum Pedatum is a sturdy perennial that can make an impressive appearance in the shade of the garden or natural wooded area. It is a fan of the sun, filtered approximately six hours daily. It is adjusted to USDA zones of hardiness for plants 3-8. Maidenhair fern is a stunning species native to two continents: North America in the United States and Canada and Asia in the Himalayan region. 

This fern is low-maintenance and easy-growing which makes it the most sought-after shade plant, perfect for shaded border rocks and slopes of ponds. 

The Maidenhair fern is also great to plant on sloped hills since they're much easier to cultivate than grass. The appearance of Maidenhair ferns could be deceiving. They have small and fan-shaped leaflets made of a single frond creating an appearance similar to hair. 

Leaflets have a vibrant spring green color, with contrasts from the darker veins. Although it has a delicate appearance, these ferns are hardy. They're resistant to cold, disease, and insects. 

The Maidenhair ferns require little care and all they need is a semi-shaded space and fertile soil. Adding mulch made of hardwood and earthworm castings will help retain moisture and give your ferns great nutritional support.

4. Cinnamon Fern 

An Eastern North American native, Osmunda Cinnamomea is a perennial fern. With its stunning greenery and low maintenance, this plant is an excellent choice. It thrives in USDA zones 4 to 9 in a semi-to-full shade-growing setting.

They are great as ground cover for flower beds, as an accent plant, for foundation plantings, or for ornamental species. The common name comes due to the color of its reddish-brown fronds, which look like cinnamon sticks in form and color. It has enormous feathery fronds that can reach as high as four feet. 

The fronds of the Cinnamon fern consist of various small leaflets, forming an ethereal pattern. The leaflets typically are bright green and shiny. The stems of the Cinnamon fern can be light brown or rusty and are sometimes slightly smooth or ridged. The roots are robust and can easily support the massive fronds. They are durable, resistant to insects and diseases, and do well in extreme weather.

5. Ostrich fern

Matteuccia Struthiopteris is a massive and dazzling perennial fern with beautiful, plume-like fronds that will surely draw the attention of admirers. They are fans of a moist and part shade area within USDA zones 3 through 7. The Ostrich fern is a gorgeous ornamental plant that looks stylish in any garden setting. It's ideal near the rear of a garden border, in natural areas near water features, or in any partially shaded space. 

Ostrich fern gets its name because of its springtime appearance. As new growth begins to emerge in the springtime, the newly formed fronds are covered in an orange-colored fuzzy covering called the “crown”. The Ostrich fern gets its name from the open plumes that resemble ostrich feathers. Matteuccia Struthiopteris is also distinct in size, as it can grow to 3 to 6 feet high, and the beautiful green fronds develop a distinctive feathery appearance.

Maintaining and planting an ostrich fern can be simple. The important thing is to place it within a shaded spot because it needs indirect light, not sunlight. It will adjust to the early morning sun, but it will not tolerate the afternoon sunlight. It prefers fertile, moist soil that has rapid and efficient drainage, so its roots don’t sit in water for too long.

Selecting the right ferns for your garden means considering a few factors, including heat tolerance, maintenance, and aesthetic appeal. The five fern varieties mentioned in this article offer a range of options suitable for different garden spaces. From the impressive size and water-loving nature of the Royal Fern to the low-maintenance characteristics of the Bracken Fern, each type brings its unique features. Whether used as ground covers, ornamental focal points, or accents in shaded areas, these ferns contribute to the beauty and vibrancy of any garden space. 

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Royal Fern - TN Nursery

Royal Fern

The Royal Fern is a large, striking fern with feathery fronds and a distinctive crown of fertile fronds. It is typically found in wetland habitats and is appreciated for its ornamental appeal in gardens. The Royal Fern is distinctive from other plants in the class because of its notable size. Specifically, this is one of the largest that grows outside of tropical zones in the United States. Also known as the osmunda regalis, the plant thrives in areas of the yard that are moist, including both shady and partially shady spots. Why should you include it in your landscaping plans? The Appearance Of Royal Fern The plant is appropriately named because it can grow up to six feet tall, and its size at maturity often makes it a solid focal point in yards. The fronds can be as comprehensive as 16 inches and feature up to nine pinna pairs, each with up to 13 pinnules. These qualities, combined with the healthy green color and the point shape of the fronts, add a rich texture to your yard that elevates aesthetics. The Wildlife Attraction and Tolerance Of Royal Fern While some wildlife is welcome in your yard, others can cause considerable damage and should be deterred. The potential damage from foragers like deer and rabbits is deterred as these animals do not use this plant for food. However, turtles, birds, and frogs, which generally do not cause damage, often seek shelter in their bushy leaves. Royal Fern is Pest Resistant While hungry insects often feed on various types of plants, it is well-known for repelling them. Specifically, the recognizable leaves have particular proteins that repel many kinds of insects. Any insects that do find their way to these plants often become food for the birds and other animals that live under the fronds for protection from the elements and their natural predators. When Royal Ferns are planted three feet apart, as recommended, there is little concern about them outgrowing their allocated space. The plants grow only a few inches yearly and do not need to be cut back to prevent overgrowth. As a result, it takes many years for the plant to reach its full size, and minimal care of this low-maintenance plant is required.

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Bracken Fern - TN Nursery

Bracken Fern

Bracken Fern, or Pteridium aquilinum, is a captivating and ubiquitous fern species that thrives in a wide range of habitats across the globe. This perennial plant, which belongs to the Dennstaedtiaceae family, is a prime example of nature's adaptability and resilience.; Bracken Fern Has Silvery Hair Brown stems covered with silvery gray hair are characteristic of them. Their typical flowering time is in early spring. Their compound leaves are twice as numerous as their triangular leaves. These leaves can be two to four feet long and up to three feet wide. An intricate whorl of three leaves forms at the very base of the stem. Spores grow on the leaves ' underside, starting in the middle to the end of June and continuing into late summer. The fronds will grow again after the first heavy frost in the spring. By the end of summer, the fronds begin to change color, going from brown to a beautiful copper or gold that complements any vivid fall foliage. The thick canopies they create keep the soil wet, making a humid microclimate home to many plants and animals. They are also essential to the habitat's biodiversity since they provide food for some animals, like rabbits. They are perfect for building nests because they have many fibrous fronds, which many birds and small animals use. Create Beautiful Edges and Borders With Bracken Fern Bracken Fern provides a gentle and realistic border that goes well with garden settings. They are great for adding winter beauty to garden borders because of their evergreen leaves. They are a good option for garden borders in regions prone to deer since they are usually resistant to deer grazing. Bracken Fern Makes Soil Healthy  By decomposing leaf litter, Bracken Fern improves soil structure, increases microbial activity, and supplies organic matter to the soil, making it healthier. The fibrous roots of these plants improve drainage and lessen soil compaction by aerating the soil. They also help with nutrient cycling by absorbing and releasing nutrients, stabilizing soil, and preventing erosion.

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maidenhair fern - TN Nursery

Maidenhair Fern

The Maidenhair Fern is a delicate, deciduous plant with finely divided, fan-shaped fronds and distinctive black stems, adding an elegant touch to shaded gardens and moist woodlands. It is an aesthetically pleasing plant that offers a range of benefits when used in landscaping. Its unique characteristics and visual appeal make it famous for outdoor and indoor spaces.  The Maidenhair is prized for its delicate leaves and long lifespan. The scientific name is Adiantum SPP, and it's part of 250 species of these plants, including the Northern, Delta, and Southern Maidenhair ferns. The Greek part of the plant's official name means unwetted, and it gets that name from its ability to shed water without getting damp. These plants are native to the Himalayas, East Asia, and the eastern part of North America. Maidenhair Fern's Leaves  Adiantum spp are prized for their fan-shaped leaves. They are known to make excellent houseplants and usually grow between one and two feet tall and the same width. Their stems are wiry black, while the leaves are bright green. Gardeners can expect them to reach their full height in three years, and with proper care, they can live up to 15 years. Maidenhair Fern Grows Well In Pots  Adiantum SPP grows well in pots, containers, and terrariums and can be replanted as it outgrows its container. It also makes great container plants and can be planted in shade gardens and hosta gardens. The Adiantum SPP is known for its air purification qualities. The leaves draw in airborne toxins and are used as nutrients, helping them clean the air wherever they are planted. They also release moisture, which can help combat dry indoor air. When the Adiantum SPP is grown outdoors, it can help stabilize loose soil and cover wildlife, including frogs, lizards, and birds. Birds will sometimes use the dried frons to line their nests. Companion Plants For Maidenhair Fern  The Adiantum SPP can be grown with other flowers and ferns, including the strawberry begonia, coral bells, ginger, woodland geraniums, bloodroot, hostas, hellebores, and pulmonarias. Gardeners can enjoy the calmness of Maidenhair Ferns indoors and outdoors. They make excellent potted plants and look wonderful around water features and along hillsides. They can also be combined with other ferns and flowers to create eye-catching garden beds.

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Cinnamon Fern - TN Nursery

Cinnamon Fern

The Cinnamon Fern is a large deciduous plant characterized by its distinctive, brown-colored fertile fronds standing upright in the center. It is captivating and versatile and has numerous landscaping benefits. This plant, native to eastern North America, has become famous for gardeners and landscapers due to its aesthetic appeal, adaptability, and environmental contributions. Cinnamon Fern grows to a height of 6 feet and spreads about 4 feet on its black stalks. The unfurled pinnae are Kelly green on top, while the fronds in the center of the plant, which give it its name, are dark brown and resemble sticks of cinnamon because they grow straight up. Cinnamon Fern In The Springtime Early in the spring, the central fronds that turn brown later start life as silver-colored fiddleheads. They're covered in fur, too, charmingly "shaking off the cold of winter." The broad fronds on the stalks form a cute rosette around the central stalks. The silver fiddleheads match well with Fescue or Brunner. Those fiddleheads appear early in the year when the top of the plant is clumped together in a cute bundle. As the Cinnamon Fern Opens When the fiddleheads are ready to open, their silver hair turns brown and clings to the base of the pinnae as they expand to their full glory. The large, broad pinnae on 3-foot fronds is the sterile variety. In the center of the plant, the brown-colored fronds with much smaller pinnae are the fertile fronds. The plant's attractiveness comes from the contrast between the two frond types. Secondarily, the contrast between the expanded fronds and any nearby silver flowers they used to match is equally striking. When it comes to the sterile fronds, they can hold almost two dozen pinnae that taper gently in size from large to small, creating a shape that nearly resembles a palm frond made up of pinnae. The Sporangia Of The Cinnamon Fern This plant doesn't have sori. Instead, it has sporangia that surround the stalk of the fertile frond. These turn brown as they open and give the plant its name. Up close, they're made up of tiny dots that wrap around the stalk in delicate, beautiful shapes. From the time the plants peek through until the fiddleheads unfurl, it is about a week during the spring. During this time, you can see the shape of the pinnae and fronds develop and become full members of the garden for that year. Cinnamon Fern makes an attractive, striking, and attention-grabbing entry in any garden, and because they're perennial, they'll be back every year to be a lovely garden anchor.

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Ostrich Fern - TN Nursery

Ostrich Fern

The Ostrich Fern is a large, deciduous fern with graceful, feathery fronds that resemble ostrich plumes. It is commonly found in moist woodland areas and is prized for its ornamental value. The plant is a magnificent and beneficial plant with several advantages in landscaping projects. The Tall and Lovely Ostrich Fern Ostrich Fern is an attractive dimorphic plant that gardeners use all year round to beautify their patches. In its nonfertile state, the plant grows to a height of 6 feet, the gorgeous fronds resembling plumes, hence the plant's name. In its fertile state, which occurs in the fall and early winter, it is much smaller. However, The shape is attractive, so it still provides pleasing shapes in a garden, even if that shape changes. The Different Phases of Ostrich Fern When nonfebrile, it is a rich, almost Kelly green, the arching fronds swooshing enticingly in the breeze. It contrasts with other blooming plants and serves as a color anchor in a garden of flowers. They're hardy, too, so you can plant them nearly anywhere to beautify a particular place. Although they aren't green and sweeping in the winter, they're still attractive as they survive the cold and snow while the perennials sleep until spring. First, Ostrich Fern's extensive root system is an excellent soil stabilizer, and the other plants in the garden will benefit thereby because its roots prevent erosion and nutrient loss in the soil. Second, they are a boon to various garden-dwelling wildlife. Several species of butterflies and beneficial insects rely on plants like it for shelter and as a place for egg laying and pupae maturation. Perhaps best of all, although fiddleheads are a delicacy for people when cooked, animals don't like their taste. So, you won't have to worry about rabbits, deer, and other woodland creatures venturing into the garden for a snack. The Serenity Of Ostrich Fern Feng shui practitioners rely on it to bring harmony to a dwelling and the adjacent garden. The way it morphs back into a verdant, thriving plant after being so much smaller throughout the winter also indicates a symbolism of new beginnings.

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