This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

August 8, 2013

The illusion of ferns in the desert

A Tropical Paradise isn't complete without ferns. If you live in an area such as Hawaii, or Southern California, you can grow ferns. Heck, you can grow ferns in the summer in Minnesota, and some of the biggest tree ferns that I know of are in San Francisco. But you can't grow ferns here in the Phoenix, Arizona area.

Believe me, I've tried to grow ferns. No matter how much water, how fancy a misting system you have, they just shrivel up and die. And I'm stubborn! I've purchased a lot of different types of ferns over the years, only to watch them slowly die. And sometimes not so slowly. And if they did manage to linger for a while, they looked so ratty that it wasn't worth the trouble. So I have created the illusion of ferns, with cycads.

If you Google "cycads" you will find sago palms and its relatives. The "ferns" in the photo are not sago palms, they are close relatives. In the foreground is a dioon edule, with multiple trunks, and behind it is a dioon spinulosum. Behind the cannas to the left you can see a little bit of a zamia furfuracea (commonly called a cardboard palm). And to the right are dwarf date palm trees. Yeah, small palm trees give a nice ferny effect, too.

It's the lack of humidity in the air here that makes it impossible for ferns to grow. It's the reason for the gorgeous blue skies of the Phoenix area, and why you can usually count on being able to play golf without worrying about rain.

Having the illusion of a tropical paradise is possible here in the Phoenix area, you just need to do a few tricks.
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