Plant Care and Garden Guide: From Ferns to Franklinia
PLANTING: Space plants according to the ultimate size of species you’ve chosen. Most hardy ferns prefer a shady or partly shaded location, with soil that is light yet highly organic. Take care not to plant crowns too deep - set them at or just below soil level. Mulch at planting time, and make sure plants have ample water during the spring and early summer, particularly during the first few years, when plants are establishing themselves.
MAINTENANCE: We recommend that no fertilizer be used on hardy ferns; mulching will provide enough organic matter. It’s best not to disturb the duff (the layer of decaying vegetation that covers the soil around the plant). Overhead spraying from time to time is beneficial. Divide as necessary by separating the rhizomes - this should be done before new growth begins in the spring or, preferably, as plants go dormant in the fall. Zones various.
FESTUCA - See Grasses, Ornamental
PLANTING: Set 10 to 15 feet apart, preferably in well-drained soil of low to moderate fertility. Requires full sun. In northern zones, we recommend a southern exposure. For container culture, plant in a large tub or container, in well-drained soil, enriched with organic matter. Set outdoors after danger of frost is past, first hardening off in partial shade, then moving to a location in full sun.
MAINTENANCE: During the growing season, water well during periods of drought, and mulch with hay, compost or straw to preserve moisture and discourage weeds. To develop a tree form, train 3 or 4 branches 2 to 3 feet off the ground. Prune in spring while dormant, remove dead wood and thin to keep the top open and grow within bounds. At the northern limit of its hardiness, add a winter mulch mounded two feet above the base of the plant. For container culture, bring indoors after a few fall frosts and store in a cool, dark cellar; water about once a month to keep soil barely moist. Prune lightly each spring to keep plants within bounds and repot every 2 to 3 years as needed. Zones 7-10.
PLANTING: Space plants to allow for ultimate growth. Forsythias are widely tolerant of soil types and pH but prefer a good, loose, well-drained soil. A location in full sun will maximize flower production.
MAINTENANCE: Forsythia will flower on the previous season’s wood; to this end, prune severely each year immediately after flowering, cutting approximately 1/3 of the older branches back to the ground. A balanced fertilizer applied each year as plants begin to leaf out will also promote growth and optimum flowering. In the northern zones, buds above the snow line may be injured during severe winter; protection with evergreen boughs will help prevent this. Zones various.
PLANTING: Choose a well drained acid soil, pre-enriched with leaf mold or other decomposed organic matter. Fothergilla will tolerate partial shade, especially in hot climates, but will produce better fall color and more flowers if situated in full sun. “Blue Mist”, which has blue foliage, performs best in light shade.
MAINTENANCE: Pruning should be necessary only to shape. A year round mulch is recommended to maintain soil moisture and even soil temperature. Fothergillas are quite tolerant of wet soil conditions. If grown in dry sites, they should be deeply watered during periods of drought, especially for the first two years. Zones 5-9.
PLANTING: Space plants 8 to 10 inches apart in sun or partial shade. A soil rich in organic matter that drains well is best.
MAINTENANCE: These plants can be used as a ground cover, edging, or in the rock garden. Also do well in baskets and other containers. Zones 3-9.
FRANKLINIA alatamaha - Ben Franklin Tree
PLANTING: Set trees 15 feet apart to allow for ultimate spread. Choose a sunny location where the soil is rich, moist and well drained. They will grow in light shade but flower production will be less.
MAINTENANCE: The Ben Franklin Tree is shallow rooted, so do not cultivate within the drip line. Water deeply during periods of drought. We recommend a summer mulch, especially during the first few years, to conserve moisture, and winter protection as well, particularly in the northern regions. Do not fertilize. Zones 5-9.