Friday, May 9, 2014

Ya' know what I mean, Fern?

As I was watering the plants on my front porch this morning, I thought I'd share with you a little gardening tip. 
Ferns on the front porch is a requirement in the South.  If you live below the Mason-Dixon line and don't have at least one, get in your car and drive to your local nursery now.  If not, you are in danger of losing your Southern Belle card.  Don't say I didn't warn you...
That being said, ferns are temperamental.  They need sun, but not the hard, late day sun.  They like to be root-bound, but a pot full of roots makes it hard to hold water.  They look best when hanging, but it's difficult (and often self-soaking) to water a plant above your head.  And finally, they are a favorite spot for birds, lizards and snakes. 
(Side note: My mama read somewhere that you should put rubber snakes in your ferns and plants to keep birds from nesting in them.  That's all well and good until a real, live snake decides to work for free.  Be sure to check your plants well before bringing them inside.  My parents have found at least three snakes IN their house in the last couple of years.)
So how do you take care of such a picky but ubiquitous Southern staple?  Well, I'm sure I didn't invent this technique, but here's what I do.

We have several five gallon paint buckets around the house.  The kids have one attached to a rope on the tree house for hauling things up and down.  Each kid has their very own to use when we pick up pine cones each weekend.  (Their absolutely favorite thing to do.  Not!)  And I keep one on the front porch to use to water my ferns.  I keep it about 3/4 full and about once a week, I drop in a handful of Epsom salt.  (I read somewhere that it helps to keep your ferns green.)  Change your water before adding more salt, so it doesn't get too saline.

Then I simply set the fern in the bucket for at least half a day.  This gives the roots time to absorb the water as opposed to top watering where the water just runs right through.  Brilliant, huh?  Thank you very much!  If I think about them, I swap them out middle of the day.  If not, it's OK if they sit overnight.  This way, each plant is in the water about every other day.  And we all know that ferns have to have lots of water to survive the Southern heat and sun.  Well, at least now we all know that!
And, look!  You can't even see the fern in the bucket behind my little wicker settee, although I will move it when we are having company.
So, now you know how to keep your ferns beautiful and healthy all summer long.  So head right out and buy you some ferns and a paint bucket.  Ya' know what I mean, Fern?

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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