Ferns are lovely, sturdy plants that a lot of people have in their gardens, but they can grow in conditions that many other plants may find challenging. This can make it challenging to fill up your garden in certain areas with plants that accentuate the ferns you have.
So, what can you plant with ferns?
The plants that you can plant with ferns would need to be plants that thrive in similar conditions to ferns which are moist, shaded locations of your garden. Some of these plants would include Astilbe, Bleeding Heart, Heartleaf Brunnera, Caladium, Barrenwort, and Hellebore.
Plants that work well and thrive in the same conditions as ferns do in your garden also need to look good and accentuate the beauty of the ferns themselves.
Keep reading to find out what these fern companion plants look like and whether they are low maintenance or not to figure out which one will suit you.
What Conditions Do Ferns Prefer?
The condition that your fern will thrive in will depend on the type of fern you are growing. Certain ferns like the Cyrtomium falcatum species of fern prefer to grow in deeply shaded areas in your garden, while others like the Athyrium filixfemina species of fern love to be grown in full sun conditions.
To determine the perfect growing conditions for your specific fern, you will need to find out your fern’s species.
However, most ferns will be fine growing in part sunny, part shady conditions with moist, alkaline soil. Thankfully, several other plants can also be planted in these conditions with your ferns.
What Other Plants Like The Same Conditions?
If you want to plant a few plants with your ferns, you need to find plants that will thrive in the same conditions that the ferns grow in. This can be pretty challenging depending on what ferns you have because if your ferns are shade-loving plants, you need to find another plant that can live in shady conditions but still complement the fern.
Below is a list of lovely plants that will not only grow in the same conditions as a good majority of ferns as they can handle almost all growing conditions, but they will also elevate your garden to a whole different level as they are stunning plants.
Bleeding heart plants have long been a companion plant for ferns as they both thrive in the same growing conditions. These plants are iconic as they have heart-shaped white or pink flowers that bloom from spring all the way to fall.
These beautiful flowers are produced from lovely long stems that make the flowers clearly visible. These gorgeous plants will generally get to between 6 to 12 inches in height and about 1 to 3 feet in width.
Bleeding Heart plants are pretty low maintenance and easy to grow, and you can grow them in containers like a plant pot or in the ground.
Hellebore plants are easy to care for, and they are beautiful plants that can look great in almost any landscape you plant them in. These plants are mostly evergreen, and their foliage is a chartreuse/gold color, with serrated leaves that rise on strong and sturdy stems.
Hellebore plants are perfect for the shady spots in your garden as they prefer the soil to be moist and cool. These plants will grow to be between 1 and 8 feet in height and 1 to 3 feet in width, depending on the type of Hellebore you get.
The Hellebore has unique flowers that are a saucer or bowl shape that are generally white with yellow, maroon, and pink speckles.
Astilbe is a plant with ornamental, fern-like green and bronze foliage, and it thrives in part sun, part shady conditions. This plant does require a lot of water, which makes it the perfect companion plant for ferns.
Astilbe plants have a plumped feathery-looking blossom that looks stunning both in season and when it is dried out in winter. These gorgeous feathery flowers will come in either red, purple, pink, or white.
This plant will grow between 1 to 8 feet in height and 18 to 30 inches in width, depending on which type you get. Astilbe grows well as a groundcover plant, and in a plant pot, so you have options about where to plant it.
These plants are beautiful and low-growing plants with heart-shaped leaves, which is where it gets its name. Heartleaf Brunnera’s foliage is either grey/silver or green/blue, but the leaves can change between these two colors.
The heartleaf Brunnera will first grow strikingly green/blue colored leaves that will then turn grey/silver. Once the leaves are silver, they are almost iridescent when seen in the right light.
These plants will grow to about 1 to 3 feet in height and between 12 to 30 inches in width, and they boast clouds of white or sky-blue flowers from early to around mid-spring.
Heartleaf Brunnera plants are low-maintenance plants and do exceptionally well when planted with almost all types of ferns.
Caladium plants are stunning plants that have colorful leaves that are shaped like arrowheads. This plant has very easy care requirements and can grow just about anywhere as it thrives in shady, filtered, sunny, and partly sunny locations.
This plant’s foliage is generally blue/green, gray/silver, or burgundy/purple. The leaves of this plant can get pretty big, and these large leaves can be damaged in strong winds. So, it is recommended that you plant these plants with other steady-leaved plants like ferns to protect their leaves.
Caladium plants will grow between 6 to 12 inches in height and anywhere up to 24 inches in width, and they are considered to be groundcover plants, but they can do well when planted in pots and other containers, too.
Barrenwort is part sun, part shade plant that may look deceivingly delicate when in fact, it is anything but fragile. This plant thrives in low-light conditions that other pants may not be able to tolerate.
Barrenwort has beautifully colored foliage that comes in burgundy/purple or green/blue and has flowers that bloom in early spring. The flowers of this plant are generally red, orange, pink, white, or yellow. This plant will grow between 6 to 12 inches in height and between 1 to 3 feet in width.
Barrenwort makes for a lovely groundcover plant that has no trouble competing for root space beneath shrubs and trees. This makes them perfect companion plants for almost all types of ferns.
Many plants will do well growing as companion plants with your ferns as there are plenty of plants that can grow in the same condition. The plants mentioned above are the plants known among gardeners for growing well with ferns, plus they are gorgeous to look at.
Good luck with your fern companion planting!
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.