With their interesting foliage and textures, ferns are easy to grow and require little maintenance. Some species are evergreen, giving year-round interest, while others die back in autumn and produce new shoots (also known as croziers) in spring.
How to grow ferns
Ferns are versatile, and there are many types to grow to suit your garden. Some ferns grow in sun while others prefer shade. Nearly all ferns grow best in moist but well drained soil, though some will thrive in dry shade.
More on growing ferns:
Browse our list of the best ferns to grow, below.
Delicate fronds of the Himalayan maidenhair fern
This evergreen Himalayan maidenhair fern, Adiantum venustum, does well in shade or dappled shade. Its delicate, light green fronds darken with age. Protect from wind.
Glossy, strong leaves of Asplenium scolopendrium
You often see British native Asplenium scolopendrium growing wild – if you spot it in your local area, it will probably grow well in your garden. It’s evergreen, and needs very little care – just a little tidying in spring.
Asplenium scolopendrium Crispum Group
Crinkley-edged leaves of Asplenium scolopendrium, Crispum Group
A cultivar of Asplenium scolopendrium, Crispum Group is an eye-catching evergreen that has distinctive wavy edges that become more pronounced as the plant matures.
Delicate, silver and burgundy leaves of the painted Japanese fern
Deciduous painted Japanese fern Athyrium niponicum is flushed with silver and burgundy, making it an unusual, eye-catching choice. It’s growth is more prostrate than upright; it likes moisture. There are several pretty cultivars.
Bronze fronds of the autumn fern
Known as the autumn fern, Dryopteris erythrosora is an unusual fern with red new growth in spring, which eventually turns bronze and then green. It’s evergreen and just needs a little tidying up in early spring.
Tall fronds of Dryopteris wallichiana
In spring, deciduous fern Dryopteris wallichiana unfurls to produce striking fronds that are 90cm high. If you have the space, it looks particularly effective planted in a group.
Bright-green fronds of the shuttlecock or ostrich fern
The shuttlecock fern, or ostrich fern Matteuccia struthiopteris is not a British native, but has naturalised in parts of Britain. It sends up bright green ‘shuttlecocks’ in early spring and develops into a handsome plant. It prefers a moist soil.
Fine fronds of the carrot top fern
This delicate fern, Onychium japonicum, is known as the carrot fern, as its foliage resembles that of a carrot top. It hails from Japan, Thailand and India so isn’t fully hardy in the UK, although it should come through the winter in an unheated greenhouse.
Pale-green fronds of the royal fern
Also known as the royal fern, Osmunda regalis is a deciduous fern with a stately look, that can reach quite a size. Its foliage turns bronze in autumn. It likes a damp spot.
Golden tassel fern fronds
Polystichum polybelpharum is an easy-to-grow evergreen, also known as the Japanese tassel fern. The tips of the fronds are covered in golden hairs which give it an alternative name of the golden tassel fern.
Many thanks to fern specialists Fernatix, who provided us with information on the plants in this feature.