I planted some Japanese painted ferns a week or 2 ago; 5" pots. They
are starting to grow, and I wonder how to feed them. 1/2 -strength
Miracle Gro, or full-strength fish emulsions, or what? How often do I
In soil that started out good & rich & which gets an annual topcoating of
composted manure or leafmold, there should be no reason ever to fertilize
most ferns at all. Evergreen ferns like deerferns or Japanese tassel ferns
can be severely damaged by fertilizers; the deciduous ferns like your
painted ferns MIGHT benefit from a once-yearly (spring) half-strength
slow-release low-nitrogen fertilizer.
Fertilizers high in nitrogen cause them to look & do poorly. An autumn
topcoating of manure compost, or of leaves on moist soil which permits the
leaves to break down into leafmold by spring, is frequently all a fern
In containers fertilizing needs will be higher (& trickier so as not to
overdo it) but in the outdoor garden, always think "less is best."
-paghat the ratgirl
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
Thanks. This was very poor soil until I mixed in a bunch of compost. I
don't know if it is decent soil now or not. It's next to a concrete
slab that's less than a year old, so I wonder if they'd like an
occasional tonic of quarter-strength acid-loving plant food until I can
get them mulched good with spruce needles.
Maybe the peat moss they came potted in will give them enough acid
buffer for a while.
you might also consider top dressing them with coffee grounds every few
weeks. they add a little bit of nitrogen and a little bit of acidity, but
are not too strong. I use them on a tropical fern I have indoors, and that
seems to be just fine.
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