Ferns or perennials under heavy snow load?

Asked September 20, 2016, 6:43 PM EDT

I have a shady NE corner in my yard/garden that receives a heavy snow load from the intersection of two rooflines. I do not want to plant any shrubs or woody plants there for fear of their limbs breaking. I am thinking of planting some ferns there or some shade perennials, but am unsure if they will survive. Do you have any suggestions? Zone 5

Bonner County Idaho

1 Response

You have made a good decision to use herbaceous perennial plants in that situation. Since the tops die back each fall they will experience no damage from the snow. While any of the shade tolerant perennials should work, some good ones to consider are hosta, heuchera (coral bells), columbine, sweet woodruff, astilbe, hardy plumbago, and bleeding heart. Some ferns to consider (from the Perennial Favorites Nursery catalog, no endorsement implied) include:
Adiantum pedatum 'Five Finger' Five Finger Maidenhair Fern
Athyrium filix-femina 'Lady' Lady Fern
Athyrium niponicum 'Ghost' Ghost Fern
Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum' Japanese Painted Fern
Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum Regal Red' Japanese Painted Fern
Dryopteris erythrosora 'Brilliance' Autumn Fern
Dryopteris filix-mas 'Male Fern'
Dryopteris laborei 'Golden Mist' Asian Fern
Matteuccia struthiopteris 'Ostrich' Ostrich Fern
Matteuccia struthiopteris 'The King' Ostrich Fern
Osmunda cinnamonea 'Cinnamon' Cinnamon Fern
Osmunda regalis'Royal' Royal Fern

Hope this helps!