Choosing ferns and monitoring your health

Darian Graivshark
Lineup of books that guests could look at that pertain to growing ferns.

Daisies, oak trees, roses and vines . . . whatever may be your favorite to grow, it's always good to know more when you're planting something.

With a full house of almost 60 people at the Ascension Parish Library in Gonzales on August 28, Dr. Terry Rehn spoke at a "Choosing Ferns" meeting. Rehn is an East Baton Rouge Master Gardener and a retired Cardiologist.

Ferns were lined up at the front of the meeting room for the guests to look at before Rehn gave great tips and tricks to growing ferns. There were more than ten ferns on the table that he would be giving away at the end of the night.

"I moved to Ascension about 25 years ago from the northern area," Rehn said. "I grow more than 50 ferns now here in the south. I prefer ferns over certain flowers now, because deer don't eat them."

Rehn went on to explain the importance of understanding whether a fern prefers sun or shade, alkaline or acidic soil, and whether they can tolerate heat or not.

Moreover, when growing a fern, or any plant of sorts, it's good to plan ahead.

"Most of my plants have an irrigation system around them," Rehn said. "I grew ferns under an oak tree that is over 250 years old. The people before me said it was impossible to grow anything under it. That goes to show that it's good to plan and understand the area."

Most ferns will tolerate the heat if you give them they water that they need, while some may not. Same goes for a frost and hail.

"If you have a garage, it's easiest to stick the potted ferns in there," Rehn said. "If you want to protect something from hail, you want to protect the ferns, not the car."

Rehn has also learned that in the Louisiana heat, it's better to use plastic pots instead of clay pots. The clay pots absorb more water, leaving less for the plants. Plastic pots allow the plants to absorb more of the nutrients they need.

Since Rehn is also a retired Cardiologist, he took a moment to speak about heart health pertaining to gardening.

"You may think it's from the garden work you've been doing, but if you have any cause to believe you may be having a heart attack, call an ambulance," Rehn said. "It's better to call an ambulance instead of driving yourself, too. This helps the hospital prepare for you and get started right away instead of walking in out of the blue, if you can prevent that."

He ended the meeting by handing out a few of his ferns and explaining to the guests who won them about how to take care of it if they weren't totally sure.

Follow Darian in Twitter: @dariangshark