Hardy ferns are a perfect companion to the shade garden offering textures and colors not available in any other perennial.
Ferns prefer rich, well-drained soils with lots of organic matter so preparing your soil before planting is essential. Mix copious amounts of compost with your existing soil and plant into this mixture. Hardy ferns do not tolerate bright sun or dry areas so do not try to plant them there.
Once established, the hardy ferns require very little maintenance. Fertilizing them every spring as they emerge is the only feeding you will need to provide. A general 10-10-10 or equivalent fertilizer is fine but read the directions and do not over fertilize as some ferns are very sensitive to this.
Hardy ferns are deer resistant and when planted with other deer proof shade perennials, could possibly deter them away from your hostas. This is not a proven strategy but if the deer know that they do not like the smell of a fern then they may stay away from that garden.