Keeping Barn Plants Alive

Keeping Barn Plants Alive

Barn FernsIn our travels we’ve seen some pretty fancy barns. We’re not rich so we can’t afford a landscaping staff to decorate and care for our barn plants like the beautiful Biltmore Mansion stables, for example. But as soon as the weather warms enough to stop threatening frost, I look for ways to liven up the place. Last year I added simple black metal hangers from our barn posts and bought some ferns. This may sound weird but I saw something similar on the porch of a funeral home and I liked how it looked. But I have a poor history with plants. Some colorblindness prevents me from easily telling the difference between green and brown. Unless something is shriveled up, I’m likely to keep watering it, wondering why it doesn’t grow or flower again. I also tend to have trouble with how often to water plants so I either over or under water. Ferns looked hardy. After all, they grow wild in the woods with no one to water them. How hard could it be? But a month into my barn beautification experiment I was reminded why I wasn’t a horticulturist. I might not have been able to tell if they were brown or green but those suckers looked dead to me. Unfazed by my plant failures from last year, I invested in some new ferns this year and I think I may have figured out the secret. Each day when I let the horses in, I water the ferns. Since they’re in hanging baskets, they seem to dry out quickly. And judging from the moist environment in the mountains where ferns thrive, I’m guessing the container-bound ferns prefer to be moist as well. I judge how much water to give them by sensing the weight empty versus wet. I’ve gone as long as a single day without watering without trouble. It’s extra work but the results are worth it to me. I’m going to have to find someone to water my plants when we go on vacation.

I learned one important lesson that in retrospect should have been obvious. Do not put a plant within reach of horses. Remember, they have long necks! Last year Moonshine ate the fern on the pole nearest the pasture.

I’d love to hear how you decorate your barn with plants or flowers in the warmer months. Any green thumbs out there? In the meantime, maybe someone can tell me if the ferns in the picture are green or brown. 🙂

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