Tips&TricksRediscovering the fern: the historically rich, globally popular, and unexpected powerhouse at home

Rediscovering the fern: the historically rich, globally popular, and unexpected powerhouse at home

The cat is lying next to the fern.
The cat is lying next to the fern.
Images source: © Getty Images | Mariia Skovpen
8:37 AM EST, January 27, 2024

Over the years, ferns have been somewhat forgotten, yet they are among the oldest plants on earth, co-existing with dinosaurs. They grow everywhere, require minimal care, look exotic, and offer a lot. Some even believe the mythical fern flower is a harbinger of luck and prosperity. So, what's the truth behind the common fern?

What's there to know about ferns?

The common fern grows in various parts of the globe, which explains its massive popularity, not only in Europe. The shrub can grow to a height of 24 inches and is commonly found in forests, including in high mountain regions. Initially, fern leaves are rolled up into forms resembling a pastoral staff or snails. Only later do they develop into stunning plumages, remaining evergreen!

Ferns thrive in shady and less illuminated parts of the forest, often characterized by well-drained, humus-rich soil. They favor humidity, usually growing alongside moss, rocks, streams, as well as wetlands and rotting branches. The spores of the fern mature in the summer and aid their rapid reproduction. The fern can also serve as a house plant. In fact, during the People's Republic of Poland era, it was a common decorative element in every home.

Where does the common fern thrive?

Ferns make excellent garden plants, growing well under tree canopies and in flower beds. They fill the space in shaded garden areas and those hard-to-reach spots. Many plant common ferns as ground cover plants due to the large clumps they form. Against this backdrop, other garden plants, especially colorful ones like roses, peonies, and even hydrangeas, stand out.

Cultivating a common fern at home is also a popular idea that has been reemerging recently. The plant should stand in one spot, as it dislikes sudden movements, and it's best placed on the north windowsill. Regular watering and spraying its leaves encourages the production of more lush leaves. Not many know that the home fern purifies the air, and equally blocks blue radiation from electronic devices!

Some lesser-known facts about ferns!

In folk medicine, the common fern was viewed as a natural medicine, and its rhizomes were used to combat respiratory diseases like tuberculosis and sore throats. Interestingly, ferns were equally effective in treating digestive ailments and colds. The fern's rhizome, also known as sweet root or Gypsy licorice, contains osladin, a substance 600 times sweeter than sucrose!

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