Thursday, August 1, 2013

Illuminate Your Landscape with Golden Boston Fern

The chartreuse foliage of this variety of
Boston fern illuminates a shady situation
at the UT Gardens in Knoxville.
As an apartment dweller, my landscape is limited to window boxes, patio plants, hanging baskets, and interior plants.  My favorite annual landscape plant this year has been the golden Boston fern.  The fine, chartreuse foliage of this Nephrolepis exaltata has illuminated my shady porch in a way that a typical green Boston fern just can't.

A Multitude of Uses

  • This variety of fern has thrived in a container on my patio, a hanging basket, and even indoors in my tabletop aquaponic system.  
  • In the past, the golden Boston fern has grown excellently in a couple of living wall systems that we demonstrated at the Southeastern Flower Show.  
  • This variety of fern performs really well in a summery mixed container.  Partner with pink flowers or purple foliage for a color combination that really pops.  Mixing with the bold texture of a Caladium or a shade tolerant elephant ear will make this plant's feathery foliage stand out.
  • My favorite use of this versatile tropical is as an annual in the shade garden.  The brilliant foliage really shines a little light in a shady situation.  
A sprig of this golden Boston fern has really
taken to life in my home aquaponic system.
Preferred Conditions

Golden Boston fern prefers dappled shade.  Full sun will burn this fern's sensitive foliage.  Keep soil moist but well drained for best growth.  This tropical annual won't overwinter in anything less than USDA Hardiness Zone 10a.  Your local garden center or plant nursery should carry this variety of fern.  If they don't, I'm sure they'll be happy to order it for you.  You can also order by mail from Randolph's Greenhouses


The chartreuse variety of Boston fern was first discovered by Jason Reeves, the curator at the University of Tennessee trial gardens in Jackson, TN.  Rita Randolph of Randolph's Greenhouses shared the plant with Allan Armitage, former director of the University of Georgia Trial Gardens in Athens.  Armitage named the plant 'Rita's Gold', and the variety went on to win the Classic City Award for its performance in the landscape.  

I've pieced together the humble beginnings of this particular fern based on conversations with horticultural experts and online research.  Please don't hesitate to shoot me an email if there's anything that should be added or modified.

To see more of my photos of the versatile golden Boston fern, be sure to check out my flickr set.

If you have any questions, ideas or suggestions, please leave a comment below or shoot me an email.

How has this golden Boston fern grown for you?  What tropical annuals have thrived in your garden this summer?  What plants do you use to illuminate your landscape?

Splashes of gold brighten two of the interior living walls highlighted at the Southeastern Flower Show in Atlanta, GA and the Dogwood Arts Home and Garden Show in Knoxville, TN