I've got a north facing shady screened porch (7b Piedmont). I'd like
to hang 6 ferns off that. Not sure what I got, but they are tallish
until they droop over, and are cold hardy. They are root bound in one
Does it need deep or wide? Can I plant this in mostly peat? I may make
the containers. I have a good bit of 6" wide cypress as well as some old
copper screen and I'm not in the mood to throw $60 or so in pots (though
I may give in). Perhaps fold a basket out of the screen, stuff it with
peat and I'm not sure what else. Hang it on the drip line. Should I be
thinking coconut mat?
I've got them hanging from the dripline in coconut mat baskets ($3 Wally
World) in a sorta sandy humus/manure mix.
When I broke up the roots it was loaded with nodules. These seemed to
me to storing water.
I've always thought about misting ferns, but now I wonder if they
aren't more like camels storing water for the drought. Load them up and
they can go for a while.
At any rate, it is raining and water is pouring through one of the
planters. Fern stress test in progress.
Are you sure they are true ferns? Sprenger asparagus (A. densiflorus
'Sprengeri', often called asparagus fern) has nodules on its roots,
indeed for storing water. These can get quite pot-bound and will
eventually require dividing and repotting in order to maintain vigor.
They do not require misting.
Asperagus ferns often turn yellow in the fall and go dormant or
semi-dormant. They have small white flowers. As with all species of
asparagus, there are separate male and female plants. The females get
small berries that turn red when ripe. I don't think the berries are
edible. In any case, I cut away any shoots on mine that have ripening
berries because they will otherwise scatter through my garden and become
new plants. Except for the one plant that volunteered in a rather dry
corner of my back yard, I consider these to be weeds. It took me more
than a year to eradicate a clump of asparagus ferns from my front yard.
In any case -- true ferns or asparagus -- I would avoid using copper
mesh around roots of any plant. Copper will slowly corrode, putting
copper salts into the potting mix. Copper salts are generally toxic to
plants. (This also applies to brass and bronze, both of which are
copper alloys.) If you wish to use a mesh to create hanging baskets,
try either aluminum or plastic (e.g., for window screens).
Have you considered using a large eye-bolt in the center of each basket
for hanging? You then use a small chain and an S-hook. See my
<http://www.rossde.com/garden/indoors.html#bluebath . Of course, with a
non-rigid basket, you would need to use larger steel washers on the
inside and outside, almost the diameter of the basket; but you could
skip the rubber washers. You might even use pierced discs in place of
the large washers.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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