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Asplenium scolopendrium (Hart's Tongue Fern)

One of the few native plants we grow and very beautiful it is too but like all ferns, it needs the right conditions. In West Sussex, it’s always the bases of the north side of the Sussex Downs that you’ll see them at their very best (Cocking, Edburton, Fulking etc). The ingredients are alkalinity (the chalk of the Downs), deep soil and good drainage (being at the base of the hill where all the organic detritus collects) and shade and shelter (under trees and at the bottom the hills). The result is great vigour sometimes leading to evergreen fronds well over 2 ft in length. The shinyness of the leaves lends them an air of rude health and exoticicity. They’ll grow on acid soil too but they do seem to have a liking for alkali conditions – like around collapsed walls and hardcore where the alkalinity of the mortar is high. If you have a garden where ferns already grow happily these should be fine. Gardens I’d avoid are on new building sites where the chances are the garden is on compacted clay with a few inches of top soil that the developers kindly left. Ferns hate those conditions – poor drainage, waterlogged, yuck if you’re a fern. After a few years, as the soil improves, try a few ferns and see how they get on. When it comes to soil conditions, ferns are fuss-pots.

Propagated by us from spores.

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Hardiness level Green

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Hardy anywhere in Britain below approximately 1000ft (300m)

This is only meant as a guide. Please remember we're always on hand to give advice about plants and their frost hardiness.

Please remember that these coloured labels are only a rough guide.

General Point about Plant Hardiness: The commonly held belief that it's better to 'plant small' is perfectly true with herbaceous plants, but not necessarily true with woody plants. They need some 'wood' on them to survive severe cold - so plants of marginal hardiness in very cold areas should really be planted LARGER, rather than smaller, wherever possible.