Guide to low-maintenance gardening

From low-water plants to simple projects, our guide to easy gardening will make a green thumb out of anyone

Best ferns for a low-water garden

These luxuriant ferns don’t need to drink a lot to be happy. Get our tips on the best types to plant and how to care for them

Planting a low-water fern garden
Photo by Norm Plate; written by Janet Kinosian

Planting a low-water fern garden

Ferns are the Tilda Swinton of the plant world—graceful, cool, yet full of contradictions.

Graphic, flower-free fronds make them seem modern, but they’re among the most ancient plants around. They can be both evergreen and deciduous, depending on where they’re planted. They’re often pictured in humid rain forests, yet a few can grow happily in (moist) desert canyons. Their lush foliage makes them look thirsty, but some can survive summer heat with almost no water.

The ferns shown here can thrive on little water once they’re established, as long as you plant them against a shaded wall or in a woodland setting beneath tall trees. They’re especially pretty among blue hydrangeas, or beside dry creekbeds with sweet woodruff or baby’s tears scrambling around them.


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