Most ferns prefer part shade to shade and a moist well drained organic soil. Most will tolerste more sun, if given consistent moisture. Ferns are light feeders, requiring little if any fertilizer. You may use a balanced liquid or a slow release fertilizer for them but do not use both. Few pests bother them and most are fairly deer resistant.
Athyrium (Lady Ferns)- This family of ferns are easy to grow and great for moist to average shady spots.
A. x "Branford Rambler" is a vigorous spreader. It is about the same size as the Japanese Painted Fern(12-18") and seems more green with redder stems. It is also called Running Painted Fern.
"A. x "Ghost" also grows like the painted fern but has very pale, silvery leaves.
A. filix-femina:Lady Fern has fine lacy fronds reaching 24". Prefering moist shade, it is hardy and easy to grow. Not evergreen. A. filix-femina "Lady in Red" is a new selection with good growth and beautiful red stems.
A. niponicum "Pictum":Japanese Painted Fern is the best variegated fern so far. Its silver, red, and green fronds grow from 8 to 18". A little slow to establish but worth the wait. Not evergreen.
Dryopteris: This group of ferns are known as the Wood Ferns. There are many species and hybrids to be found. Natural hybridization is common in the wild. All are easy to grow and ask only for consistent moisture during establishment.
D. australis: The Dixie Wood Fern is a hybrid found in wild populations from Louisiana to Virginia and is a superb garden plant as far north as zone 5. Reaching 4 feet, it is a great addition to any garden.
D. cycadina: Shaggy Shield Fern has stiff, leathery foliage on an easy growing 18-30" plant. Semi-evergreen.
D. erythrosa: Autumn Fern is an evergreen fern with reddish new growth maturing to a dark green. 18-24" high.
D. marginalis: Leatherwood( Marginal Shield, Eastern Shield, or Eastern Wood) Fern is an attractive evergreen fern with fronds reaching 18-24".
Matteuccia- M. struthiopteris: Ostrich Fern is one of the most magnificent and adaptable of all ferns. Its 3-5’ fronds form a tall vase. Takes a moist or dry soil but looks best with good moisture. Not evergreen.
Osmunda- O. cinnamon: Cinnamon Fern has bright green foliage turns gold in the fall. It is clump forming, well behaved, and showy. Growing well in an average garden soil, it will tolerate sun if given enough moisture. Also known as the Fiddlehead fern for the edible fiddleheads of early spring. Not evergreen, 24-48".
O. regalis: Royal Fern thrives in a moist rich soil. The 4-5’ fronds look fantastic in a mass planting. Not evergreen.
Polystichum- P. acrostichoides: Christmas Fern has a neat habit and fronds that remain effective until Christmas. It is easy to grow. Semi-evergreen.