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Portland Nursery

POLYSTICHUM: Fern

Polystichum is a wonderful addition to any shade garden. Not only are they pretty to look at with their lacy frond structures, they are also evergreen, giving the gardener something interesting and enjoyable to look at through every season.

These ferns work well in mass plantings (fern glens), as a back drop to herbaceous perennials, and also in containers. Though they prefer rich moist soils they adapt well to poor soils and tight conditions, sometimes emerging out of the cracks of rocks.

Some Polystichum are native to this area and thrive in the Northwest because of our acidic soils and moderate temperatures. They scatter our forest floors with their enduring evergreen elegance, helping to make the great Northwest one of the most beautiful places to live.

A few of our favorites are:

Polystichum makinoiPolystichum makinoi Makinoi Holly Fern
Evergreen, light sheen, olive green, linear fronds, native to Asia


Polystichum munitumPolystichum munitum
Sword Fern

The "classic" Northwest native fern, dark green shiny leaves, 3'- 4' part shade


Polystichum polyblepharumPolystichum polyblepharum
Tassel Fern

Evergreen and dark green, frosted underside, 2'- 3' tall, native to Japan and Korea


Polystichum setiferum angulare - Lace Fern, Alaska Fern
Evergreen, dark lacy fern for shady location, generally 1.5 feet tall


Polystichum setiferum 'Divisilobum' Polystichum setiferum 'Divisiloblum'

Divided soft shield fern
Evergreen lacy fronds, arching, mounding, moist shade


Polystichum setiferum rotundatum
Crested Rams Head fern

Upright , lacy, evergreen. Crests like a Rams head, 2'- 4', light shade


Polystichum setiferumPolystichum setiferumSoft shield fern
Evergreen, soft, lacy fronds, rosettes 2'- 3' high


polystichum-tsus-simensePolystichum tsus-simense
Korean Rock Fern

Small striking fern with black stems, semi-evergreen, needs well drained soil. Established plants can handle some dryness.

Sword fern with rosehips

Sword fern with rosehips

FACTS: POLYSTICHUM

Family:  Dryopteridacea

Genus:  Polystichum

Common Name:  Fern

Origin:  Polystichum ferns hail from a wide variety of places, including North America, Eastern Asia, Europe and Oceana. The name is from the Greek (poly=many and stichos=row).

Culture:  Most ferns are rugged, adapted not only to cold climates but to high heat and humidity. They are well suited to any shade from light to dense and tolerate light to medium sun exposure. These long lived plants will grow in most any soil, but light, fertile woodland soil with plenty of humus is preferred.

They can be propagated by dividing rhizomes in very early spring or in autumn after the fronds have died back. Under the right condition of moist soils between 60 & 70 degrees F ripe spores will germinate, making naturalization easy.

Maintenance:  With good cultural conditions Polystichum are very low maintenance and very easy care. Clean-up is easy and straight forward, just cut back the old dead foliage seasonally. Removing the spent fronds encourages new growth and will guarantee beautiful evergreen ferns with new fronds unfolding.

Pests and Diseases:  Larva of codling moth can make a home in the tips of the frond, curling them and rolling them up. There are generally no disease problems.