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Hi there, I would like to plant some large ferns in a very shady border area which is also planted with quite large fetunias. I'm looking to fill in the gaps any advice? Much appreciated.



Spring bulbs, snowdrops, small daffodils. Follow with Anemone nemorosa (there's a lovely blue one)Solomon's seal, and English bluebells. By then your ferns should be well on the way to uncurling.
I have been surprised by how much shade Dutch irises will stand - I have a white one that comes up year after year in fairly dense shade very close to Magnolia stellata.
If you have room Hellebores would probably be happy and there are some real beauties these days. For the front of the border you could look at Bergenias and perennial geraniums - Google geraniums for shade and you'll see a wide selection of suitable ones.
Brunera Jack Frost will give you nice variegated leaves all year with blue flowers in spring and of course there are Hostas if you can bear the slug damage....

Sorry I don't know what fetunias are so couldn't take them into account. If you meant Petunias they are only annuals in this country.

11 May, 2017


Thank you very much for your comprehensive answer!

In fact I am looking for ferns only, rather than plant in general which like shade. Forgive my naivety. Can you recommend particular types of fern? Ideally those which can from large and can thrive in very shady environments.

Thanks again

11 May, 2017


Ah, sorry I misunderstood. Not all ferns like the same conditions, some attractive woodland ferns such as the dainty Atherium felix femina need a fairly moist "woodsy" soil and some are more tolerant of dryness. The polypodiums and Dryopteris are happy on dry ground here.(even in full sun)
If your conditions are suitable it would be nice to include one or two of the Japanese painted ferns, Athyrium metallicum.I have two young ones in dry shade and while not lush they are growing!
I would look at the website of Long Acre Plants. They specialise in plants for shade and have lots of different ferns. If you are in doubt about any of them they should be able to advise you better than I can. Bear in mind that some are evergreen so you might like to include a few of those. I do have quite a few but am bad at keeping labels...
There are so many and I've only mentioned ones that grow here.

11 May, 2017


That is so very helpful, thank you for your time and expertise.

Time to get planting!

All best

13 May, 2017

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