“We are gathered today to celebrate the lives of these maidenhair ferns which have died in my care.”
I regularly hold funerals for my maidenhair ferns and they even have their own graveyard in my garden.
These plants were healthy when I brought them into my home, but each ends up a mass of drooping brown leaves.
I love maidenhair ferns, but they are not a plant I seem to be able to grow.
My aunt knows all the tricks, and grows maidenhair ferns with the ease that Monet grew water lilies.
Great pots of healthy maidenhair ferns almost bob with buoyancy in her fernery. Bunches of fine black fronds spring from the pots and crowns of delicate lush leaves open to float about them. They arch and fall, cascading like fountains spouting waterfalls of emeralds.
There are 200 varieties of maidenhair fern and each has an intrinsic freshness. Although they have no fragrance, I feel the air is somehow sweeter in their presence.
Maidenhair ferns are temperamental to grow and prefer a constant temperature without drafts. This is where I go wrong. With winter heating and summer air conditioning blowing cold air, it’s little wonder mine never survive.
Maidenhair ferns must be kept moist at all times, even a short period of dryness is enough for them to turn up their toes. It’s also very important they have a humid environment.
The best way to provide humidity is to grow the fern on a saucer filled with water and small stones. The water evaporates producing humidity and the stones prevent the roots from rotting by keeping them out of the water.
Maidenhair ferns are hungry and need a liquid fertilizer on alternate weeks
If grown outside, they need dappled shade and protection from frosts. My little maidenhair graveyard has exactly these conditions with a brick wall providing protection from temperature changes.
No need to send me your condolences because after about three months something astonishing happens.
Like Lazarus the maidenhair ferns arise from the dead. Fronds begin to grow and small green leaf buds develop. When the newly risen plant is looking good it is brought back into the house. After time, I have the same unhappy results so its out to the graveyard and the circle of life continues.
Now back to the funeral; a couple more pots of maidenhair fern are going out to the graveyard. The grief is too much, where is my handkerchief…