Ostrich Hardy Fern is one of the most widely used hardy fern because of its perfect vase shape and bright green fronds that resemble ostrich feathers. They grow to about 3 or more feet and then arch at the tips. Because of their feathery appearance, they move gracefully in the breeze but prefer to be well protected from high winds. Unlike some other ferns, Ostrich ferns can be planted in moist, shady areas such as pond banks or damp borders. Runners spread out underground producing more of these beautiful ferns. Early in the spring is when the fiddleheads begin to sprout. These produce the tallest fronds and are followed in a few weeks by shorter fronds that will produce reproductive spores.
In the northern part of North America, these natives grow in the wild and are harvested when young. Only the fiddleheads are harvested when they are about 1-4 inches tall. These then are separated from the brown papery covering, washed and then steamed or boiled. It isn’t out of the question to saute them in bacon grease with a little bit of garlic. Be sure however you choose to cook them, that you cook them thoroughly. The taste is described a being somewhere between asparagus, broccoli and spinach. Other ferns are also edible but do a little bit of research before trying just any of them. Ostrich ferns tend to be the most tasty.
Spacing: Plant 20″ to 24” apart.
Height: Grows 24″ to 60” tall.
How To Grow: Plant in part sun to full shade.
Outstanding Features: Well suited as a specimen plant.
Tips: Plants spread via underground rhizomes into colonies over time.
Uses: Garden Bed, Containers, Borders, Landscapes