Chistmas fern got its name because it stays green right through the holiday season. It is a robust, leathery fern which has glossy, green fronds year-round. The fronds grow in clusters from a crownless rootstock and range from 1-2 ft. in length. Fertile fronds are taller. The once-divided fronds with pointed pinnae result in a medium to coarse texture. The silvery fiddleheads emerge in early spring.
Christmas fern is very easy to establish and grow where conditions are right. It requires cool, moist, well-drained soil in shade. In the right spot, it can be a good, evergreen border or accent plant. Though often used as a groundcover, it is a clumping fern, not forming a continuous, undifferentiated carpet the way some ferns do.
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Size Notes: Normally 1.5 to 2 feet, occasionally 3 feet tall.
Leaf: Dark green
Size Class: 1-3 ft.
Bloom Color: Not Applicable
Bloom Notes: Not a flowering plant. Reproduces by spores.
USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI ,SC , TN , TX , VA , VT
Canada: NB , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: N.S. to extreme s.e. MN, s. to c. FL, e. TX, and Mexico. Zones 5 to 10
Native Habitat: Rich, rocky woods; stream banks; swamps; thickets
Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Moist, acid, humus-rich soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Acid-based. Best in rocky or sandy soils.
Conditions Comments: Does not tolerate clay soils or standing water. It must have good drainage. Gets stressed in too much sun, becoming pale and stunted. It must be kept moist, cool, and shaded.
Use Ornamental: Borders, accents, and groundcovers
Use Wildlife: Attracts Ruffed Grouse
Interesting Foliage: yes
Propagation Material: Root Division
Description: Multiplied by division or spores.
Seed Collection: Not all fronds are fertile. Fertile fronds are narrower at the tip (which withers and dies following release of the spores in mid-summer).