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Blechnum spicant (Deer Fern)

It’s quite a little chap as ferns go but it’s evergreen and tough and one of the very few British native plants we do. Sadly, the last ice age didn’t leave us with much of anything except terminal moraines and hanging valleys. You’ll find it nearly always grows on steep banks – of streams usually. Ferns often grow on steep banks. Whether it’s because steep banks offer perfect conditions for spore germination or because ferns just like growing on steep banks – who knows? They can grow to about 1.5ft x 1.5ft but when the fronds are producing spores (always easy to see on the underside of the frond), they can get much longer than that. Why? No idea.

There’s a bit of a caveat about describing any fern as evergreen in Britain. If it gets very cold or snows a lot, the fronds collapse and couldn’t be described as evergreen. Cut them down to nothing in the spring and back they’ll come. These typically grow on acid, well drained deeply organic soil as with most ferns.

If you have a new house and a new garden (especially in an area where clay predominates), the chances are that your garden has been ‘re-profiled’ by the developers : clay compacted by heavy machinery, then covered in a few inches of topsoil. The process of turning this into a garden will be gradual and largely accomplished by your addition of organic mulch, the bacteria that breakdown the mulch and the worms that assimilate the broken down mulch into the ground. This is a part of the process of creating soil. If this is the starting point, there are lots of things that will establish and begin the process but unfortunately, ferns are not one of them. Either grow them in a pot or wait for a few years. Ferns are fuss pots and will only grow in good friable, well drained soil with lots of organic content.

Produced by us from spores

Hardiness traffic light green

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.