Ferns For Zone 7
The Deer Fern
The Deer Fern (Blechnum spicant) is aptly-named because the plant is widely considered deer resistant and works very well as a border plant for areas where wildlife is unwanted. This particular plant grows to heights ranging from 8-20" tall with an estimated width up to 24" wide. The Deer Fern grows to a mostly dark, luscious green color with even darker, thick stems which make the plant very sturdy. It grows very well in most soil compositions and requires average to wet conditions. Light requirements range from partial sun/partial shade to full shade. The plant does most of it's growing in the Spring/Summer months but does experience some growth year round. The Deer Fern flourishes well in zones 5-8 and requires minimal maintenance, but appears at it's best if old fronds are trimmed when new ones appear in the early Spring.
Fiddlehead Ferns in the form of Ostrich Ferns or Matteuccia Struthiopteris can easily be grown in the backyard garden. The immature fronds of these ferns are commonly cooked and eaten like any green leafy vegetable. From the time of germination, it takes a year for the ferns to produce the immature spiraled fronds which are the edible part of the plant. They grow in partial shade to full sun and require frequent watering, making them ideal for shade gardens. Each plant will produce seven fronds and can reach a height of 6 feet. For the plant to remain healthy, only 3 of the fronds are harvested before they open. Over-picking leads to the death of the plant. Fiddlehead ferns can be grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 7, and they are a deer-resistant garden foliage plant.
The Japanese Painted Fern
The Athyrium niponicum, more commonly referred to as the Japanese painted fern, is grown as a decorative plant in gardens. One of the most notable visual characteristics of the plant is its deep red stems. The fronds can grow up to about a foot high as well as out to a foot long or more. They are often described as beautiful, containing a blend of silver and purple coloring on a green base. Though a slow growing plant, it will continue to develop as the year's pass. The Japanese painted fern is widely considered as easy to grow and maintain, and is a fantastic addition to wood or shaded gardens, though will also thrive in an indoor environment with proper care. For the best aesthetic results, the soil around the fern should not be allowed to dry out, and the plant should be kept in the light shade.