Last year I planted a few Japanese Painted ferns and almost immediately something gnawed off the fronds to the ground. Of course they struggled and then died back and I thought they were gone forever. Miraculously, this year they’ve re-emerged and were beautiful for about 2 weeks until the same thing started happening again!
We life in a semi-wooded area of central Virginia and I suspect that squirrels (little jerks) are to blame…but my neighbor has a giant, beautiful painted fern that looks untouched. They’re also attacking my newly planted Lady in Red fern but I’m growing autumn ferns with no troubles. Anyone else have this problem?
I’m sorry that I missed your question! Have you figured out the culprit? I think it is quite unusual for animals to eat ferns because of the toxins in them. So I am very interested to know who was responsible! The only thing that comes to my mind is: Most fern fronds are less toxic in the ‘fiddlehead’ stage. If it is just the new growth that is being taken, try protecting the fern with a cage or netting until the fronds unfurl.
thanks guys! right after i posted this issue all three plants made a full recovery and now have beautiful full fronds. who knows?! back when i was having this problem, the fronds went missing after the had unfurled and they were not laying anywhere near the plants that i could see. it’s still a mystery!
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Welcome! I’m Margaret Roach, a leading garden writer for 25 years—at ‘Martha Stewart Living,’ ‘Newsday,’ and in three books. I host a public-radio podcast; I also lecture, plus hold tours at my 2.3-acre Hudson Valley (NY) Zone 5B garden, and always say no to chemicals and yes to great plants.