Saturday, May 1, 2010

Autumn Ferns

The favored fern of my shady central Texas garden is the Autumn Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora).

I have tried several other fern varieties.  Some were unable to handle the summer heat and drought while others were dissatisfied with my yard's low light levels.  Nearly all would disappear back to the ground after the first frost - returning diminished the following spring or never appearing again at all.

But the Autumn Fern hasn't disappointed.  It begins spring by sending up several reddish fiddleheads which slowly unfurl to present rusty colored fronds.  The fronds gradually lose their reddish hues as, over several weeks, they change to green.

They are more drought tolerant than many fern varieties, surviving on the same level of watering as most lawn grasses.  And either early morning sunshine or all day filtered sunlight meets its light needs.

And come winter's freezes, the Autumn Fern stays evergreen, its fronds withstanding our past winter's 18 degree lows with little or no damage.

With evening coming on, the sunshine angles through the trees and backlights the raised fronds. 


  1. Your ferns are lovely and it's quite amazing that you can grow them here. Such a woodsy setting. There are so many different garden niches in Austin and it's fun to learn about them all.

  2. I've longed for autumn/wood ferns for my garden. Perhaps this will be the year! Thanks for all the photos to get me motivated!