Southport Show 2016

The BPS stand at Southport Flower Show, put on by Michael Hayward, Steve Coleman, Robert Crawford, and Alison Evans, won a Silver-gilt medal yesterday. The show theme is ‘Mediterranean’, so the stand featured a collection of ‘Desert Ferns’, with information on how ferns such as Cheilanthes are adapted to survive in hot, dry conditions such as on some Mediterranean islands, and advice on how to grow them in the UK.
Robert Crawford won the Individual Challenge trophy in the competitive fern classes – very well done Robert!

Desert Ferns

We usually think of ferns as growing in damp, shady places, but some ferns grow in hot, dry, rocky areas, such as may be found on some Mediterranean islands. These ‘desert’ ferns are known as Xeric, or Xerophytic, ferns. They are adapted to survive in hot, dry conditions in several ways:
  •  They have an extensive root system reaching deep into rocky crevices or screes to find moisture
  •  They have hairs, scales, or a powdery coating called farina, to trap moisture near the surface of the frond
  •  They may have a very leathery upper surface to reduce moisture loss
  •  In drought conditions, their leaves curl up to limit water loss.

Cheilanthes, or lip ferns, are good examples of xeric ferns. To grow them successfully, we need to give them the right conditions:
  •  Use an open, gritty, free-draining compost that is never waterlogged
  •  Grow in a sunny rockery, or clay pots in the greenhouse
  •  For pot-grown plants, avoid drying out completely by ‘double potting’, and ensure a regular supply of water to the base
  •  Give them plenty of root space
  •  Protect them from too much rain. Many can tolerate frost, but as they are adapted to retain moisture, they can quickly become soggy and rot in wet weather.

Alison Evans

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