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Cyrtomium falcatum (Holly Fern)

Holly Fern, Japanese Holly Fern, Fishtail Fern, House Holly Fern, Polystichum falcatum, Phanerophlebia falcata

AGM Award
holly fern, Japanese holly fern, fishtail fern, Cyrtomium falcatum

Cyrtomium falcatum (Holly Fern) is a visually appealing, easy-to-care-for fern suitable for various garden settings and indoor spaces. It’s particularly valued for its distinctive, holly-like leaves and its ability to thrive in shadier garden spots where other plants might struggle.

Holly Fern: An In-depth Look

Cyrtomium falcatum, known as Holly Fern, is an evergreen fern notable for its glossy, dark green fronds resembling holly leaves.

Native: It is native to East Asia, particularly in countries like Japan, China, and Korea.

Plant Type and Habit: This fern is a terrestrial plant with an upright and clumping habit, often growing in rocky areas and forest floors.

Size: It typically reaches 1-2 feet in height (30-60 cm) and 2-3 feet in spread (60-90 cm), forming a compact, bushy mound.

Foliage: The foliage is the most striking feature, with shiny, leathery, dark green fronds. Each frond is composed of leaflets that resemble holly leaves, with their pointed edges and slightly serrated margins, which is how the plant gets its common name.

Uses: It’s primarily used for ornamental purposes in shaded gardens, as ground cover, or in containers.

Hardiness: Holly Fern is hardy in USDA zones 6-11, tolerating colder temperatures better than many other ferns.

Award: Recipient of the prestigious Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society.

Toxicity: This fern is not known to be toxic to humans or pets, making it a safe choice for households with children and animals.

Deer and Rabbit: It is somewhat resistant to deer and rabbits, due to its leathery fronds.

Drought: It has moderate drought tolerance but prefers consistent moisture.

Invasiveness: Holly Fern has become widespread as an ornamental plant. Its rapid spread across the USA, facilitated by apogamous reproduction, poses a threat to native species, leading to its recognition as an invasive species by the US National Park Service. Find where Holly Fern is invasive in the United States.

Benefits: It’s an excellent choice for adding evergreen foliage to shaded garden areas and is relatively low-maintenance. It also improves the aesthetic of indoor spaces and may contribute to better air quality.

Holly Fern Care

Light: Prefers partial to full shade. Avoid direct sunlight, which can scorch leaves. Ideal for shaded garden areas or north-facing rooms.

Soil: Thrives in well-draining, rich soil. Amend with organic matter for optimal growth.

Water: Requires consistent moisture. Water regularly to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Reduce watering in winter.

Fertilizer: Feed with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in spring and summer. Avoid over-fertilizing.

Pruning: Minimal pruning required. Remove dead or damaged fronds to maintain appearance and health.

Propagation: Easily propagated by division in spring. Divide clumps every few years to rejuvenate and increase plants.

Pests and Diseases: Generally resistant to diseases. Watch for scale insects or mealybugs. Overwatering can lead to root rot.

Requirements

Hardiness 6 - 11
Heat Zones 10 - 11
Climate Zones 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, H1, H2
Plant Type Ferns
Plant Family Dryopteridaceae
Common names Fern
Exposure Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spread 2' - 3'
(60cm - 90cm)
Spacing 24" - 36"
(60cm - 90cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen, Plant of Merit
Tolerance Full Shade, Deer, Rabbit
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes, Ground Covers, Patio And Containers, Underplanting Roses And Shrubs
Garden Styles Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage, City and Courtyard
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Do I Need?
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.
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Requirements

Hardiness 6 - 11
Heat Zones 10 - 11
Climate Zones 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, H1, H2
Plant Type Ferns
Plant Family Dryopteridaceae
Common names Fern
Exposure Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spread 2' - 3'
(60cm - 90cm)
Spacing 24" - 36"
(60cm - 90cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen, Plant of Merit
Tolerance Full Shade, Deer, Rabbit
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes, Ground Covers, Patio And Containers, Underplanting Roses And Shrubs
Garden Styles Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage, City and Courtyard
How Many Plants
Do I Need?

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