Ferns growing up from the ground

Ferns are a group of vascular plants that have been around for more than 360 million years. They are known for their delicate, lacy leaves and unique reproductive structures called sporangia.

Although they are often overshadowed by showier flowering plants, ferns have a lot to offer in terms of aesthetics, functionality, and ecological importance. So, why are ferns good plants and why should you nurture them in your garden?

In this blog, we will explore some of the reasons why ferns make excellent plants for gardens, homes, and the environment.

Aesthetic Value

Ferns come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colours, making them suitable for a variety of landscaping purposes. From small, ground-hugging varieties to towering tree ferns, there is a fern for every space and style.

Many ferns have glossy, emerald-green leaves that add a touch of sophistication and sophistication to gardens and indoor spaces.

Some ferns also have colourful leaves, such as the bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus) with its yellow-green fronds or the autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora) with its coppery-red fronds.

Ferns also add texture and dimension to gardens and indoor spaces. Their delicate fronds can provide a contrast to the bold, structured leaves of other plants, or create a sense of movement and flow when planted in mass. In addition, ferns can be used to create a sense of mystery and intrigue, especially when planted in shaded areas or paired with other shade-loving plants.

Natural setting of grassy lawn with old tree stumps and ferns growing out from them
Natural setting of grassy lawn with old tree stumps and ferns growing out from them

Functionality

Ferns are not just ornamental plants – they have practical uses as well. Many ferns are excellent air purifiers, removing toxins such as formaldehyde, xylene, and ammonia from the air. The Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) is particularly effective at removing indoor air pollutants, making it a popular choice for offices, homes, and other indoor spaces.

Ferns are also great at retaining moisture, making them an excellent choice for drought-prone areas or for gardens with poor drainage. They can help to reduce the need for frequent watering, saving both water and time. In addition, ferns can help to reduce erosion on slopes and in areas prone to landslides, as their extensive root systems anchor the soil in place.

Ecological Importance

Ferns play an important role in the ecosystem, providing habitat and food for a variety of animals. Many ferns are host plants for caterpillars and other insects, which in turn provide food for birds and other animals. Ferns are also an important food source for deer, rabbits, and other herbivores, and their dense canopy provides shelter and cover for small animals and birds.

Ferns are also important in the process of nitrogen fixation, which is the conversion of atmospheric nitrogen into a form that plants can use. Nitrogen is an essential element for plant growth, and many ferns have symbiotic relationships with nitrogen-fixing bacteria that help to enrich the soil and improve plant growth.

Ferns thrive on borders embankments and trails
Ferns thrive on borders embankments and trails

In addition, ferns are often used in restoration projects to help restore damaged or degraded ecosystems. They are particularly effective at colonizing areas with poor soil, such as mine tailings or abandoned industrial sites, and can help to create a more diverse and healthy ecosystem over time.

In conclusion

Ferns are often overlooked as garden plants, but they have a lot to offer in terms of aesthetics, functionality, and ecological importance. From small, ground-hugging varieties to towering tree ferns, there is a fern for every space and style.

Ferns are also excellent air purifiers, great at retaining moisture and providing habitat and food for a variety of animals. They are an important part of the natural landscape and can help to restore damaged or degraded ecosystems.