Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Adiantum venustum is my favorite plant in the garden (this week)…

This week’s favorite is easily overlooked most of the year. It’s small and kind of fragile looking; so much so I was sure it couldn’t be hardy when I first saw one. But it is, rock sold hardy to Zone 5a and evergreen into the mid-teens…

My Adiantum venustum weathered that sub-freezing week in December and a night at 12F and still looks good. These two were planted (too close together) last spring. When I say it’s easily overlooked it’s mainly do to my cram-scaping. The taller plants grow up around it and it becomes hard to see. Right now when most have them have died back I find myself wishing I had more (and looking at this photo wishing I'd taken the time to clean up  a little)…

It’s the black wiry stems that really make this plant for me. They act as the perfect counterpoint to the small green leaflets.

They look great in containers too.

The only time they don’t look great is when the gardener neglects to give them the moisture they need over a long dry summer. These are on the north side of the house and I just didn’t pay enough attention to them.

Still they are kind of pretty with the mosaic of different colors, just not as lush looking as the ones up top.

The stats:
  • also known as Himalayan Maidenhair Fern, and yes, it’s native to the Himalayas
  • hardy in USADA Zones 5a-8b and prefers light shade with plentiful moisture, although some sources say it can tolerate dry soil when established (which I guess is why my two oldest plants are still alive)
  • eventual size 6-12” tall, 2-3’ wide
  • new growth is said to have a warm bronze blush but I honestly don’t recall seeing it

I might cut these two back hard in the spring and hope they quickly bounce back to their nice 2ft wide mound, only with bight green foliage (they’ve been in the ground for a little over 2 years, starting out from a small 2.5” container).

Do you have a stand-out plant in your garden this week? Please tell us about it!

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

25 comments:

  1. I had no idea this plant was cold-hardy! I bought one as a houseplant a few years ago but was never able to keep it happy indoors. Do hot summers wither it?

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    1. It really is bizarre isn' it? No way does it look that hardy. I've got to buy a couple for my mom up in Zone 5 Spokane. Hot summers - I would imagine as long as it has plenty of moisture and isn't in direct sun it would be fine????

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  2. I like the Adiantum a lot, but definitely that gorgeous mahonia caught my eye!!

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    1. I'm lovin that mahonia (M. x media 'Charity' ) as well as the other one you only see a bit of in the second to the last photo (M. fortunei 'Curlyque').

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  3. I love this Adiantum too! That delicate-looking light green foliage is so fresh and sweet looking even in the depth of winter!

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    1. Just like you! (so fresh and sweet looking even in the depth of winter)

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  4. I love this fern too - I had quite a few in my former, shady garden but haven't tried it in my current location where both the soil and the air is generally drier. I never would have expected that it could withstand your cold temps, much less thrive. My contribution this week is another drought tolerant selection: http://krispgarden.blogspot.com/2014/01/my-favorite-plant-this-week.html

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    1. My cold temps and even (A LOT) colder. If you do try some in your current garden I'd love to know how it does. A feature of plantlust.com that we want to expand upon in the future is the ability for gardeners to log their real life experiences with the plants we list.

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  5. I've planted this a couple of times in a spot that I always neglect in summer, meaning it never gets as much water as it needs. So it hasn't thrived. Actually, I'm not even sure they're still alive...I should probably consider moving them if they are.

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    1. Glad to know I'm not alone, and yes you should! They really are worth the effort.

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  6. Good old hardy Maidenhair Fern, glad you highlighted this reliable star of a plant! Being tough, easy and hardy ironically makes it easy to take them for granted. And you're right about summer moisture, we've been guilty of that...

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    1. You're so right! When they just keep on keepin on they're easy to overlook.

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  7. I could not agree more with this choice, Loree. I have several patches of this fern in my east-facing side yard. It has spread very nicely from 4" pots and always looks gorgeous. I'm finding mine to be tough-as-nails too. Now that it's established it requires very little water. I love seeing this type of foliage in the dead of winter.
    -Bridget

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    1. "Fresh as a spring day" in the dead of winter. I need more.

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  8. I love this, and I wouldn't have guessed it'd be hardy either! Quirky foliage combined with pitch black stems is a winning combination. It has caught my eye at nurseries a few times, but I tell myself 'no' because it looks fussy. And the last 'easy to grow' ferns (this is on the tag) I got are still in recovery, not sure if they're going to make it through! I let them dry out, and then countered that with drowning them. Can't get that balance right.

    Here's my favourite this week: http://crmbsgrdn.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/my-favourite-plant-in-garden-this-week_8.html

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    1. Wow, interesting that they're also available in your part of the world. If you have a shady spot you should give them a try!

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  9. A favorite in the extensive category of plants it would be a crime to grow in my dry garden. But who knew it was so tough? Maybe in pots on the north porch? Linking to my annual post on coronilla http://agrowingobsession.com/?p=50658

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    1. Give it a try! You just never know...

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  10. I was thinking this looked like a maidenhair fern, but then not quite. It sure is a beauty. I'm thinking my favorite this week really needs a name. Can you help me out here? I could never come up with something as brilliant as Clifford.
    http://bannersbyricki.com/archives/3554

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    1. I just went back to read your reaction to my suggested name. I'm so lucky you've got a great sense of humor.

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  11. Love Adiantum venustum. It makes such a beautiful groundcover once you get a large patch. I saw it used among rocks and along paths at MSK Nursery, just north of Seattle. The fronds curved gracefully around the rocks, making an illusion of motion, like frothy green water.

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    1. I'd never heard of MSK Nursery prior to your comment, thanks Evan!

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    2. Happy to spread the word of nurseries in the Pacific Northwest! It seems like MSK was once well-known in certain circles but has fallen a bit by the wayside, perhaps. I've only been there once, and it wasn't really during the busy season, so I really don't know. I do remember the mature specimen of Argyrocytisus battandieri and it's incredible pineapple fragrance, the large Paeonia lutea growing with the Adiantum venustum, the awesome blue pods of Decaisnea fargesii, the Carpenteria californica in full bloom, and a bunch of cool hypertufa troughs. It seemed like they needed a bit more help maintaining certain areas of the display garden, but who among us doesn't? Definitely worth a visit.

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  12. I'm late, I know, but I've enjoyed reading this series from the beginning, and I wanted to add my own contribution this week - a spiky one! Here's the link: http://gardeninguptoeleven.blogspot.com/2014/01/my-favorite-plant-this-week.html

    And this fern is gorgeous! I love the wiry stems. I'll have to enjoy your pictures though - I think these plants would not enjoy our summer weather! But that's the best part of garden blogs...

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    1. Not late at all and you chose an excellent plant to jump in with! So glad you've started up blogging again

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