Ferns can serve as the backbone of a shade garden by creating a beautiful setting for a variety of woodland wildflowers. Typically rhizomatous, native ferns are a popular choice for ground cover in shady areas. In woodlands, they often appear as "early-colonizers" in areas that have been over-browsed by deer. Unlike flowers, ferns don't reproduce by seed. They reproduce from spores found on the underside the frond.