Tender ferns - outdoor winter protected

These lush foliage plants can be grown outside for most of the year. However, you will need to provide some winter protection either in situ in the garden or in planted containers that can be moved into a cool but frost free environment over winter. Plants such as tree ferns can add structure, drama and a sense of the exotic to the garden.


Tender ferns can be evergreen, semi evergreen or deciduous depending on the genus and species.They have attractive foliage in a range of shapes and textures, from long glossy tongues to delicately feathery fronds. Some develop trunk like structures and are known as tree ferns.


Tender ferns like shade or semi shade, often with moist soil although some can tolerate dry soils once established. They often benefit from a top-dressing or mulching of leaf mould or bark chips to maintain soil organic matter and conserve moisture levels.


Most tender ferns dislike dry conditions especially when establishing and through the main growing season. Misting them regularly can help but don't allow tender ferns to become waterlogged. They also dislike strong sunlight and exposed, windy sites. All these ferns must be kept frost-free over winter either through in situ insulation or by moving to a greenhouse or cool conservatory.

Did you know?

You can grow many tender garden ferns successfully in containers and some of the smaller species are great in hanging baskets which can then be moved to a frost free location over winter.

Growing guide

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