Alphabetical Plant Listing

Comptonia peregrina (Sweet Fern)

Sweet Fern, Sweetfern, Comptonia peregrina var. aspleniifolia, Myrica aspleniifolia, Myrica aspleniifolia var. tomentosa, Myrica peregrina


Noted for its attractive, fragrant foliage, Comptonia peregrina (Sweet Fern) is a small, upright, deciduous shrub forming a mound of elongated, deeply incised, shiny olive green leaves, 4 in. long (10 cm). Reminiscent of narrow fern fronds, the foliage is very aromatic when crushed. Inconspicuous, yellowish green flowers appear in late spring and summer. They give way to greenish brown, burr-like seed capsules. A native shrub of eastern North America, this easy-to-grow shrub requires minimal care to remain healthy and looks wonderful in mixed borders or along woodland edges. Sweet Fern is also excellent for erosion control and slope stabilization, or as a ground-cover. Sweet Fern attracts butterflies and other pollinators, but is rarely browsed by deer.

  • Grows up to 2-5 ft. tall (60-150 cm) and 4-8 ft. wide (120-240 cm). May spread quickly to form broad, flat-topped colonies.
  • Performs best in full sun to part shade, in sandy or gravelly, acidic, moist to drywell-drained soils. Tolerates drought, wind, salt, and a wide range of soils, including wet soils or poor soils.
  • Excellent choice for stabilizing slopes or embankments, native plant gardens or naturalized areas.
  • No serious pest or disease issue.
  • Propagate by root cuttings. Does not transplant well.
  • Native to eastern North America.

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Requirements

Hardiness 2 – 6
Plant Type Shrubs
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Height 2' – 5' (60cm – 150cm)
Spread 4' – 8' (120cm – 240cm)
Spacing 72" – 96" (180cm – 240cm)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Southeast, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia
Tolerance Drought, Salt
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks and Slopes, Ground Covers
Garden Styles Coastal Garden, Informal and Cottage

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Missouri Botanical Garden, Guentermanaus, shutterstock

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.


Requirements

Hardiness 2 – 6
Plant Type Shrubs
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Height 2' – 5' (60cm – 150cm)
Spread 4' – 8' (120cm – 240cm)
Spacing 72" – 96" (180cm – 240cm)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Southeast, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia
Tolerance Drought, Salt
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks and Slopes, Ground Covers
Garden Styles Coastal Garden, Informal and Cottage

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