Looking for a plant that is elegant and spectacular at the same time? Ostrich Fern is a fantastic choice. Matteuccia Struthiopteris, commonly known as Ostrich Fern, is a large, elegant, upright arching deciduous fern that surely makes a statement in any outdoor space. The plant got its name from its foliage’s resemblance to the large feathers of the Ostrich bird.
Ostrich Ferns create a fantastic backdrop for your other garden plants, and they spread quickly, filling your outdoor space with their unique-looking foliage. Ostrich Ferns also make an attractive element in a fresh flower bouquet that you can take inside your home.
Besides that, Ostrich Fern is also a delicious and healthy snack. In spring, it is safe to pick up the numerous fiddleheads of emerging foliage and consume them either raw or cooked. The taste of fiddleheads is somehow grassy and has a herbaceous aroma, and it is very similar to the tastes of asparagus, beet greens, or okra. They are a snack high in potassium.
Ostrich Fern is also incredibly easy to care for and has very few problems related to pests and diseases.
Ready to learn more about how to grow and care for Ostrich Fern? Keep reading!
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About Ostrich Fern
- The botanical name of Ostrich Fern is Matteuccia Struthiopteris, a name that comes from Ancient Greek words “strouthíōn,” which means “ostrich,” and “pterís,” which means “fern.”
- Native to the Eastern American woodlands, Ostrich Fern belongs to the family of Onocleaceae and the genus of Matteuccia, and it is the only species part of this genus.
- In late summer, the plant starts to unfurl, and later in the fall, it loses its leaflets. This is the time the plant goes dormant for the winter.
- Ostrich Fern is a fantastic addition to any garden. It is such a large and elegant plant that can quickly elevate any landscape. It is particularly a great asset for the bog gardens. This plant is a perfect choice for shady beds, borders, cottage gardens, water gardens, ponds, and rain gardens. It looks amazing when combined with plants like Primulas, Astilbes, and Hostas.
- Plus, the foliage of this plant also looks amazing in freshly cut flower bouquets that you can use to decorate your home.
- Unlike most garden plants, Ostrich Fern doesn’t like to be exposed to too much sunlight. This plant actually prefers to grow in partial shade to full shade. So, keep this in mind when planting it in your outdoor space.
- In terms of soil, Ostrich Ferns prefer rich and medium to wet clay soil that has a pH that is acidic to neutral.
- Ostrich Ferns are cold-hardy. They can survive temperatures down to – 4°F (-20 °C). If grown indoors as a house plant, Ostrich Fern thrives at temperatures between 55°- 80°F (12-26 °C). The plant also needs lower light conditions than other house plants usually prefer.
- When it comes to this plant’s water needs, keep in mind that you need to be very considerate about watering it frequently. It is essential to water your Ostrich Fern often to maintain medium to wet conditions during the hot season. If the plant doesn’t get enough moisture, its foliage can go dormant too early.
- Ostrich Ferns don’t have any serious problems with pests and diseases. In very rare cases, the plant may be attacked by moth larvae. However, these larvae usually cause very minimal-localized damage, so they aren’t a real threat to your plant. This problem can typically appear if the plant gets too much or too little water. Drought stress is another issue new Ostrich Fern plants can deal with.
Ostrich Fern Features: An Overview
- Ostrich Fern is an attractive and lush clump-forming plant. It is also a deciduous fern that grows upright and it has arching foliage. It can easily reach heights of 4-6 feet (90-180 cm), and it can grow up to 3-4 feet (90-120 cm) wide.
- The foliage of Ostrich Ferns is composed of fronds of green colour, which resemble, mentioned above, long feathery ostrich plumes. Each frond can reach the size of four feet (121 cm) long.
- Being a foliage plant, Ostrich Fern does not produce blooms.
- In terms of toxicity, you shouldn’t worry when it comes to Ostrich Fern. As mentioned above, this plant is edible for human consumption, both raw and cooked. What’s more, Ostrich Fern is also safe for pets. So, you can safely grow it in your garden or indoors without worrying that your cat or dog chews or ingests parts of the plant.
Growing Ostrich Fern
Caring for Ostrich Fern is incredibly easy. This plant is resistant to most of the things that are common threats when it comes to other garden plants. More precisely, Ostrich Ferns are resistant to rabbits, deer, wet soil, and freezing temperatures. Plus, they are not sensitive to common pests and diseases.
Caring for Ostrich Ferns and ensuring that the plants thrive is really just a matter of keeping in mind the plants’ ideal growing conditions. Whether you are an experienced or a novice gardener, you should find growing Ostrich Fern really easy.
First of all, make sure that you keep your Ostrich Ferns out of the sunlight. As mentioned above, these plants prefer to grow in areas where they get a partial shade or even full shade. One of the reasons for that is the fact that they love moisture. So, it’s best to choose a spot in your outdoor space where the sunlight won’t dry out your Ostrich Ferns.
Another thing you can do to help your Ostrich Ferns thrive is to provide them with feeding. Generally, ferns are relatively light feeders compared to other foliage plants. However, they also like some feeding to grow happy and healthy. We recommend using a balanced fertilizer, such as 20-10-20 or 20-20-20. Fertilization will offer your Ostrich Ferns the nutrients it needs to grow healthy and keep its foliage green for the entire hot season and longer.
Pruning is also essential to properly care for your Ostrich Ferns. While heavy pruning isn’t necessary with this plant, light trimming helps the plants look and stay fresh for longer. Simply pick up any old or awkwardly-looking fronds.
- Whether used in a border of your garden or in the backgroud, ferns enhance any garden with their grace and beauty in varying shades of green.
- INFO1 - Have large, dark green fronds with a vase shaped growth. This edible fern has fertile fronds that arise 6 to 12 inches in the center of the clump around midsummer, turning brown by fall. Be cautious on placement, as Ostrich Ferns are fast growing ferns that are aggressive spreading plants. Renowned for their fiddleheads that emerge in spring which are clipped off and eaten in a wide variety of delicious culinary dishes.
- INFO2 - Native to marshy areas, little islands, and deltas of shallow streams and creeks. Plant them in humus-rich, moist soil in part to full shade. Great for bog gardens. Plants will tolerate some sun, but will need much more moisture to keep them looking good into late summer. Matteuccia struthiopteris plants grow from dense, underground runners that spread out in every direction. Crowns can be dug up and replanted in the spring and early summer, planting them right at the level of the soil.
- ➤ Category: Perennials, Perennial Plants, Ferns ➤ Plant Type: Deciduous ➤ Light Requirement: Partial, Full Shade ➤ Soil Condition: Moist, Wet ➤ Mature Height: 4 - 5ft ➤ Growth Rate: Fast-Growing ➤ Planting Zone: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
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Planting Ostrich Fern
Successfully planting Ostrich Ferns is also not a difficult task. You only need to pay attention to the plants’ ideal growing requirements in terms of location, light, and soil.
Generally, it’s good to know that Ostrich Ferns need to be planted in a shallow hole that offers enough room for the plant to spread its root system. When planting your Ostrich Fern, ensure that the plant’s crown will sit just above the soil. Simply fill in around the roots with soil and water the area well.
Another thing to remember is that these plants can reach big sizes as they mature. So, when planting your Ostrich Ferns, it is a good idea to provide at least 5 feet of space between your ferns and your other garden plants. This will leave enough room for your Ostrich Ferns to grow and will ensure that your other plants won’t get suffocated by the dense foliage of the ferns. Also, try to choose a shady spot when planting your Ostrich Ferns.
Though it isn’t ideal, Ostrich Ferns can also grow in containers. If you want to grow your Ostrich Fern indoors, choose a large container where the plant can develop and expand its root system. Also, remember that this plant requires lower light conditions when you keep it indoors.
Watering Ostrich Fern
When it comes to Ostrich Fern’s watering needs, it is imperative to know that this plant loves moisture. Lack of enough water will make the plant lose its foliage and go dormant too early.
So, make sure that you regularly water your Ostrich Fern so that the soil never dries out completely. If you grow your plant indoors, regular misting will also help it to maintain the moisture it likes.
In the first year, it is particularly important to water your new Ostrich Ferns regularly. While established plants may survive short periods of drought, new plants don’t show the same resistance to lack of water.
Propagating Ostrich Fern
Generally, Ostrich Ferns do the propagation job on their own. They spread really quickly, so you may even have to divide the plants regularly to keep their spread in control not to outcompete their plant neighbours.
The best way to keep the propagation process under control is to divide their underground rhizomes regularly. The best time of the year to do that is in early spring because that’s when new growth emerges.
Ostrich Fern is a joy to have in your outdoor space. It looks elegant and spectacular, and it is just the right solution to cover an awful spot from your outdoor space where pruning went wrong, or nothing else would grow.
Caring for Ostrich Fern is incredibly easy as the plant is really resistant to a number of common problems other plants have. In return for your good care, Ostrich Fern will reward you with a fresh-looking garden and lovely foliage elements for your flower bouquets.