Can You Use Ericaceous Compost for Ferns?

Whether you have a flower bed, conservatory, or garden, you must consider the plants you cultivate carefully. They play a great role in determining your home’s appearance.

One of your options is the ferns. However, like any other plant, you need to get some things right to ensure that they survive and thrive.

For instance, can you use ericaceous compost for ferns? Which is the best soil for this plant?

What Are Ferns?

Ferns are plants that have existed since time immemorial. They are famous for the architectural design that they bring to any place.

Interestingly, ferns have neither buds nor flowers. Isn’t that why most people cultivate plants around their homes?

While they lack the obvious things, they have something else to offer. People grow them because of their beautiful fronds.

The decorative nature is thanks to these fronds’ various sizes and shapes. Equally important, their patterns are unique, and that’s the beauty of growing ferns.

Generally, these are handy plants bound to grow easily. However, the ideal conditions when growing ferns differ from one variety to another.

Due to the different conditions and other factors, ferns have different shapes and sizes.

Can You Use Ericaceous Compost with Ferns?

Ericaceous compost is a common kind that gardeners often use. However, just like any compost, it can’t be ideal for all plants.

If that’s the case, can you use ericaceous compost with ferns? Yes and no.

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Whereas ericaceous compost is excellent for growing some ferns varieties, that may not be the case with others. That said, it is quite a great choice for growing most fern varieties for many reasons.

For example, ferns will grow well if the soil contains many nutrients. Adding ericaceous compost to any soil will achieve that effect since it has substantial organic matter and the nutrients ferns thrive in.

Similarly, some fern varieties may not thrive despite plenty of nutrients and organic matter in ericaceous compost. That’s because of its pH level.

It is no secret that ericaceous compost has high acidity. On the other hand, most ferns prefer alkaline or neutral soils.

So, ericaceous compost is only good for ferns that thrive in acidic soils. Otherwise, using this compost on other ferns will be a bad idea.

What is the Best Compost for Fern

First, compost isn’t often necessary when planting ferns in an open garden. However, that’s not always the case since some soils can be pretty poor.

Regardless of where you plant your ferns, ensure that there’s abundant organic matter. That’s achievable if you add leafmould or garden compost.

You have several reasons for ensuring the soil is as described. After all, it boosts moisture retention and the soil’s structure.

Do you plan to plant the ferns under trees? All the reason to add organic matter since the soil is usually dry and poor under these circumstances.

Besides garden compost, you can add manure as long as it is well-rotted. Regardless of your choice, preferably apply it on the surface during spring.

Do it annually, too, so that it can enrich that soil accordingly. If you get compost rich in organic matter, that’s enough for the plant to grow, survive and thrive.

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Equally important, ensure that the compost makes the soil alkaline or neutral. Remember that acidic compost will decline the growth of most fern varieties.

Tips When Growing Ferns

As a gardener, remember the following when cultivating ferns;

  • During winter, ferns often lose their fronds and leaves or turn brown, which is normal hence will come to pass once the cold weather is over
  • Whereas some ferns’ varieties are deciduous, others are perennial hence evergreen throughout
  • You don’t have to worry about watering ferns often as long as you water them before the soil dries too much
  • As much as the plant can survive dry spells, they will thrive in wet conditions
  • The plant requires direct sunlight
  • It would be best if you also sheltered it from the wind
  • Prevent rot by avoiding water from landing on the crown or the fronds
  • Preferably, water ferns from the roots

Common Varieties of Ferns to Grow in Ericaceous Compost

If you want to grow ferns, here are some species to consider;

Flowering Ferns

That is a surprise since ferns and flowers hardly appear in the same sentence. However, these flowering ferns are an exception.

Boston Ferns

If you want to plant your ferns indoors, such a species won’t disappoint. Preferably, plant it in a hanging planter for an excellent result.

The fern’s size can be quite large, up to several feet. That and the feather-like fronds make it suitable for any plant enthusiast.

Tree Ferns

As the name suggests, this variety has a thick core and is thus similar to a tree. Additionally, their fronds resemble tree branches as they sprout from the core.

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For example, there is the Australian tree fern under this broad category. Its brown stem has a striking resemblance to a tree trunk.

Besides, a mature one also looks like a palm tree. You can grow these ferns in a pot but remember to transplant them after some time.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Ferns to Grow

Since there are various fern species, use these factors to narrow down your choice;


If you are looking for a natural look, consider a variety such as Blechnum spicant. However, consider a tree or Japanese-painted fern if you want an exotic one.

Deciduous vs. Evergreen

If you want to enjoy your ferns’ foliage throughout the year, go for evergreen varieties. On the other hand, deciduous counterparts have foliage between spring and late autumn.

That doesn’t mean that evergreen ferns are better than deciduous ones. After all, the latter often have impressive, undeniably beautiful coppery shades.


The average height of a fern ranges from 60 cm to 1.2m, equivalent to 2 to 4 feet. However, it is also possible to find one that’s shorter or taller than that, but it isn’t common.


Different ferns’ foliage has different shades of green. Others have hues of bronze, silver, pink, or purple.

Besides leaves, the colour aspect is also evident in the stems. They are mostly dark purple, brown or coppery.


Regarding fronds, which shape do you prefer? Options include low arching, bold or vertical.

The arrangement may also differ since it can be airy, light, or densely populated. Mostly, there are feathery, toothed or lacy.

They can also be curly, tufted, or ruffled on a few occasions.



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