Ideal for landscapers, gardeners, horticulturalists, environmentalists, those who work in nurseries, plant collectors, land managers or anyone with a passion for plants, this course on how to grow ferns will give how to identify and propagate these plants in baskets, terrariums and in a variety of landscapes.
The Certificate of Australian Native Ferns will teach you how to plant, mulch, water, prune, feed and protect ferns from pests and disease. You will also learn about the classification of ferns, different varietals, horticultural values, and how to make the best use of native ferns for your garden or landscaping project.
Outcomes achieved by undertaking a course on how to grow ferns include:
- Learning about plant families and plant names (common and scientific names)
- Exploring classification (family and genera) and how to use reference books
- Gaining an understanding of how to contact organisations
- Studying journals, magazines and online resources
- Examining fern culture, environmental zones in Australia and understanding soils and root media
- Understanding soil degradation, erosion and salinity, problems with soils and soil compaction and acidification
- Attaining knowledge of drainage, chemical residues, poor soil structure, compaction and surface crusting
- Gaining insights into low lying land, increased runoff from neighbouring areas and hydrophobic (water repelling) soils
- Learning about the use of organic principles to help overcome soil problems and how to reduce erosion and weeds
- Exploring how to provide soil from drying out, providing a source of nutrients and providing a buffer against temperature variations
- Gaining an understanding of soil pH, plant nutrition, earthworms and pests
- Studying organic, home made, diatomaceous earth, quassia, garlic, rhubarb, mustard, stinging nettle, chamomile and eucalyptus sprays
- Examining soapy water, pyrethrum, mustard dust and white cedar (melia azaderach)
- Understanding division, bulbils, and spore and vegetative propagation
- Attaining knowledge of tissue culture, laying, cuttings and spore propagation
- Gaining insights into collecting spores, equipment and materials and sowing spores
- Learning about selection and development and selecting plants for the new world
- Exploring materials and methods, suggested ferns for cultivation and the propagation from spores of selected Tasmanian ferns
- Gaining an understanding of commonly grown ferns and varieties including Adiantum (maidenhair Fern), Dicksonia (tree ferns), Cyathea (tree fern), Platycerium (staghorn/elkhorn), Pteridium (bracken) and Todea (tree fern)
- Studying native ferns, Cyathea cyatheaceae, Dicksonia dicksoniaceae, Blechnum (water ferns), Asplenium (spleenwort), Nephrolepis (sword fern/fishbone) and Pteris (brake/dish fern/table fern)
- Examining Apteropteris (filmy fern), Cheilanthes (adiantaceae), Cyrtomium (holly fern), Davallia (haresfoot or rabbitsfoot fern), Doodia (rasp fern), Gleichenia (coral fern), Schizaea Schizaeceae (comb fern) and Sticherus (fan fern)
- Understanding how to make the best use of ferns including in baskets, epiphytes, terrariums, tubs and water gardens
- Attaining knowledge of planting design procedures including the pre-planning phase, developing a preliminary concept plan and developing a final plan
- Gaining insights into climate considerations, copying nature and aesthetics
- Learning about potting up plants, potting mixes and how to prevent moss and algae in pots
Fascinating Fern Facts
Ferns are one of the oldest plant species on earth and grew on our planet even before the emergence of the first dinosaurs! Here are some fascinating facts that will inspire you to learn more about how to grow ferns.
- Today there are almost 11,000 species of fern-like plants known as Polypodiopsida.
- Millions of years ago, there were huge tree-like ferns Psaronius on Earth. They grew up to 10 metres in length, and the diameter of their trunk could easily reach a met
- Ferns do not have flowers as they reproduce by spores. They also don’t have leaves. What looks like leaves are actually a set of branches fused in one plane and they are called fronds.
- Some ferns (like Lianas) lead a parasitic lifestyle and use trees to climb up to the canopy in search of direct sunlight, strangling the tree on their way.
- The native Australian fern, Dixonia antarctica, can grow up to 15 metres tall with a trunk of up to two metres in diameter.
- The wind helps ferns to spawn. Sometimes it spreads its spores to a distance of hundreds of kilometres from the mother plant, and, once on suitable soil, they germinate.
- Huge tree ferns grow very slowly, on average at a rate of three to five centimetres per year. But they live for a long time, and some specimens with a height of 10 metres have probably been living for two or three centuries.
- One of the most common fern genera in the world is bracken, also known as Pteridium aquilinum. It is toxic, which sometimes leads to problems if it is eaten by farm animals.
- The smallest fern in the world grows in water. It is called Azolla cristata and usually grows from 0.5 to 1.5 centimetres. In Asia, it is specially grown and used as an effective fertiliser for rice fields.
- The Wet Tropics is home to 65 per cent of Australia’s fern species.
Popular Australian Ferns
Ferns may look fragile and gentle, but they are among the one of the toughest survivors in the plant world. In Australia, we have around 420 varieties and they differ in both shape and form. They are relatively easy to grow and maintain and are fantastic for shady and low-light areas. The majority of ferns are evergreen plants and there are a number of species that will thrive both indoors and outdoors. If you studying our course on how to grow ferns, you may be interested in some of the more popular varieties in Australia.
Ferns to add height
- Rough or scaly tree ferns like Cyathea australis contain sap-conducting tissue, so their trunks must not be severed.
- Soft tree ferns like Dicksonia antarctica perch on trunks composed of dead material, and their roots weave through the trunk, holding it together.
- Mini tree ferns are ideal for smaller areas like courtyards and in containers on patios. The trunk of the Brazilian tree fern (Neoblechnum) grows to a humble 1.5 metres tall.
Ferns to mount on trees
Young ferns can be grown in pots and then should be removed and the roots wrapped in tea tree bark. They can then be attached to rough-barked trees by anchoring them with pantyhose. Ferns placed just above a branch will have extra anchorage.
- Elkhorn and Staghorn ferns (Platycerium) grow slowly into large, heavy plants. Their upright fronds collect leaf litter and form natural compost.
- Bird’s Nest Ferns (Asplenium australasicum) grow in pots, the ground or on trees. Asplenium antiquum “Victoria” has spectacular wavy fronds.
Ferns as ground covers
Ferns that have runners that weave above or just below the ground include:
- Gristle Fern (Blechnum cartilagineum) is a weed-suppressing ground cover plant that grows to around one metre high. Its new growth fronds darken from pink to a beautiful bronze.
- Rough Maidenhair (Adiantum hispidulum) produces new fronds that are decorative and pink.
- Lacy Ground Fern (Dennstaedtia davallioides) produces beautiful frothy foliage.
- Hare’s Foot Fern (Davallia) has foliage which resembles hare or rabbit feet. The native Davallia pyxidata prefers rocks or shallow soil.
Ferns to grow in clumps
With short runners, these ferns form easily managed clumps:
- Mother Shield Fern (Polystichum proliferum) is a clumping, frost-tolerant fern with fronds that may reach a metre long when moist.
- Prickly Rasp Fern (Doodia aspera) can be grown in sunshine or semi-shade and has lovely spring growth.
- Holly Fern (Cyrtomium falcatum) produces glossy fronds up to 60 centimetres
Ferns for indoors
If you want to enjoy ferns inside, here are some happy housemates:
- Maidenhair (Adiantum aethiopicum) has beautiful fresh foliage and will thrive with good drainage.
- Cretan Brake (Pteris cretica) is a hardy plant that is a compact fern that comes in variegated forms.
- Commonly referred to as the Macho Fern or Swordfern, the Fishbone Fern (Nephrolepis) is a genus of around 30 species of fern and is tough and resilient with long, tapering fronds.
Two examples of uniquely different ferns include:
- Climbing Maidenhair (Lygodium microphyllum) may have fronds that reach 30 metres when mature, although if grown in pots, they are much more compact.
- Tassel Ferns or Clubmoss, (Huperzia phlegmaria) are botanically unrelated to ferns, but enjoy similar growing conditions – high humidity, shelter and frequent watering.
Gain a comprehensive understanding and awareness of how to grow and care for a range of ferns with a course on how to grow ferns such as our Certificate of Australian Native Ferns.