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Woodwardia unigemmata

All fern lovers admire the related Woodwardia radicans but lament the fact they can’t grow it unless they garden in the Isles of Scilly because of its dislike of frost. This is close and appears perfectly hardy (the amber label is precautionary). Huge arching fronds, not so dense as W. radicans but mighty impressive and another one of those wonderful plants that suspend belief : “You can’t grow that in this country!“. Deep red new fronds that change to green as they age. I suspect, like most ferns, a bit of a fuss pot. It will grow in a range of places but for maximum exotic-ness and huge-ness, it needs ideal conditions. Light shade, beautiful organic soil and copious quantities of water available to make it big.

It grows in mountainous East Asia in areas of very high rainfall. It doesn’t seem to have been in cultivation in this country for long and there seems little information available. We’ve had it growing in the ground for at least 15 years where it does well but it’s not an ideal spot but it’s proved itself perfectly hardy. The original plant was given to us at a time when it was extremely rare. Who gave it to us? Where did it come from? What an ungrateful person – I can’t remember.

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.

Propagated by us from little bulbils that appear at the end of some of the fronds.

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Hardiness traffic light amber

Hardiness level Amber

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Hardy in the Home Counties if sensibly sited (avoiding severe frost pockets, for example). Many Amber Labelled Plants are from cuttings from well-established plants that have survived many harsh winters in the South-East.

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.