Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Shinobu Fern (Davallia)
I have a beautiful Shinobu Fern in a large pot sitting in the shade under my Guava tree. I love to see it there and it obviously loves its spot too. A few months ago the very same Shinobu Fern was sitting near the kitchen door and totally naked of any fronds. This was a result of the Hau tree being cut down and taking away the fern's shade as well as reduced watering while I was off traveling for two months. The fact that the plant is now a mass of beautiful lacy fronds shows that it may be pretty but it is also tough. The type of plant that grows well in any garden. Even better, it is also a very useful plant as the fern fronds look very attractive in flower arrangements and the smaller leaflets are popular tied into haku leis. I like to tuck a few leaflets in next to the ribbon bow when I am tying off a regular neck lei of any kind of flower.
I was having a look around the internet to see uses for the Shinobu Fern and there are some beautiful pictures out there of haku leis, using the fern, that could give you ideas of flower combinations,etc. The other intriguing find was a web site that shows a nursery in Japan growing thousands of hanging balls of Shinobu Fern. They tie the plants on to balls of moss with rope and after about a year the ball will have about twenty fronds and is ready to sell just in time for Father's Day. Many of the plant balls have a bell wind chime hanging from the bottom and are popular as a cooling, relaxing symbol of summer. They look just beautiful and it certainly is an inspiring possibility.
The Shinobu Ferns can be divided into about forty different species. I think my one might be Davallia fegeensis. This is a native from Fiji and is know for its very fine lace look. Davallia mariesii is very popular in Japan. The Shinobu Ferns, as a group, are known to be very ancient plants that were growing before the time of the dinosaurs. They come from the East Asia into the Pacific area. The rhizome tips are covered in brown hair which has lead to names like Rabbit Foot and Squirrels Foot being given to it. The plant likes good drainage, water and shade. It will grow in the ground, in containers or even up on tree branches or large rocks. They make a lovely show in hanging baskets.
To propagate, the fern root mass can be divided up or you can get cut stems rooted. The trick is to not over water them or the stems will rot. I usually put three or five stems in one pot to get a nice full new plant.