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Thread: Foliar fertilizing ferns (when grown as cp companions)

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    D_muscipula's Avatar
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    Foliar fertilizing ferns (when grown as cp companions)

    Hello everyone.
    I recently received some Cinnamon ferns (Osmunda cinnamomea). My goal is to grow them as long-term companion plants with my flyraps, sarracenia, and temperate sundews. I didn't just randomly choose any fern, I had cinnamon fern recommended once as a companion plant for cp's. Anyways, I want to figure out how to foliar fertilize these ferns without damaging my carnivores. I read that a fern, when potted straight in peat, does best when fertilized twice a week. Has anyone tried this before, and can anyone recommend a good fertilizer that's relatively safe for carnivores if they happen to get a little on their leaves? Thanks.

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    Plant Whisperer Bio's Avatar
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    I use fish emulsion fertilizer, but MaxSea is a sea weed fertilizer that is quite popular with Nepenthes growers, and The Savage Garden says is safe for most CPs and non-carnivores.
    Last edited by Bio; 04-22-2014 at 07:51 PM.

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    theplantman's Avatar
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    The Osmunda ferns are really cool plants. However, they prefer moist, shaded, and fertile conditions--in other words, partially at odds with CP needs. I have a fern bed outdoors with about 20 species and have had Cinnamon and Royal Fern (which is another fantastic one you should get!) for many years. It's my feeling that they will not subsist long-term with CPs. I've also seen both in situ here in the south (swamps, but not with CPs). They will not grow lush/green and bear large fertile fronds unless you shade and feed them. In full sun they get chlorotic and very stressed. And peat, while good for its moisture content, isn't necessarily the best medium for ferns because of its low nutrient content. Normal potting soil performs significantly better.

    I would strongly suggest that your most successful approach may be to pot them separately so that at least the nutritional needs can be met through soil or fertilizer. Ferns are heavier feeders than just the occasional foliar feeding. They will need to be root-fed.
    Last edited by theplantman; 04-22-2014 at 08:42 PM.

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    theplantman's Avatar
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    Here's my Royal Fern during a spring several years ago--they get larger every year and it takes a good while to achieve a massive aged specimen: https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.n..._4651691_n.jpg. Same goes for Cinnamon Ferns.
    Last edited by theplantman; 04-22-2014 at 08:41 PM.

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    D_muscipula's Avatar
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    okay, I only just potted the ferns in peat yesterday. I'll go ahead and and plant them in compost mixed with sandy loam. Do you recomend sedges as companion plants? I'm worried sedges will overtake the pot.
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    theplantman's Avatar
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    Early on when I first tried CPs in a bog garden setting I went crazy collecting every single companion plant I could think of. This included highly invasive things like cattails, pennywort (or dollar weed), rushes, sedges, and horsetails. Don't plant any of these things. They won't overtake your stuff the first year, and I thought "Hey, maybe if I starve them they just won't grow." I was sooooo wrong and had to redo my bog garden this year. The rushes/sedges reseed by the thousands, while the pennywort and horsetails are highly rhizomatous and cannot be pulled out.

    I do recommend:
    cardinal flower, bog orchids (Pogonia, Calopogon, Spiranthes cernua, Habenaria, Platanthera), orange milkwort, yellow-eyed grass, irises, and meadow beauty (Rhexia). Great, colorful flowers and tolerant of bright light if kept moist. You can add tough growers like beebalm, swamp sunflower, and obedient plant, but these are tough and vigorous and will need maintenance and division to keep them in check.

    Keep in mind I'm in the hot/humid south where plants get baked to death, so some of these things may not succeed as well for you in OR. They might even be labeled as noxious weeds so make sure to check.
    Last edited by theplantman; 04-23-2014 at 07:13 AM.

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    BS Bulldozer SubRosa's Avatar
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    I'd add Pipeworts to the list of excellent companion plants, along with a relative of the Cardinal Flower, Lobelia siphilitica aka Great Blue Lobelia. Also American Cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon , which spreads rapidly but isn't too difficult to keep in check.
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