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Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas Fern)

Christmas Fern, Dagger Fern

Polystichum acrostichoides, Christmas Fern, Dagger Fern, Shade plants, shade perennial, plants for shade, Evergreen Fern
Polystichum acrostichoides,  Christmas Fern, Dagger Fern, Shade plants, shade perennial, plants for shade, Evergreen Fern
Polystichum acrostichoides,  Christmas Fern, Dagger Fern, Shade plants, shade perennial, plants for shade, Evergreen Fern

Popular and easily maintained, Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas Fern) is a robust, clump-forming, evergreen fern forming a fountain of leathery, lance-shaped, rich dark green fronds adorned with small, holly-like pinnae. They remain lush and fresh-looking throughout the season. In spring, tightly coiled fiddleheads emerge silvery green from a slowly creeping rhizome. On mature plants, the first fronds that emerge in spring are generally fertile and are held stiffly upright. Sori appear on the undersides of the pinnae only on the upper third of the fertile frond. The fertile fronds are followed by shorter, sterile fronds, which tend to be more loosely arching in form. Gracing shaded gardens and woodlands, Christmas fern provides four seasons of interest. It is effective as a ground cover or as a companion to other shade-loving ferns, perennials, and wildflowers. Adaptable and dependable, it is not fussy about soil types and conditions, making it an accommodating and low-maintenance garden plant.

  • Grows up to 1-2 ft. tall and wide (30-60 cm). Under the right conditions, Christmas fern will naturalize by spores, gently expanding its presence in the garden.
  • A part shade to full shade lover, it is best grown in organically rich, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils. Will tolerate a fair amount of sun if adequate moisture is provided. Christmas fern is remarkably drought tolerant.
  • This plant is a great choice for shady beds and borders, underplanting of roses and shrubs, cottage gardens or woodland gardens. A good plant for massing on slopes to help combat soil erosion.
  • Rabbit and deer resistant.
  • Dead or damaged fronds may be removed as necessary.
  • Propagate by sowing spores as soon as ripe, division of rhizomes in spring.
  • Native to Eastern North America

Requirements

Hardiness 3 - 8
Heat Zones 1 - 8
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Ferns
Plant Family Dryopteridaceae
Genus Polystichum
Common names Christmas Fern, Fern
Exposure Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spacing 12" - 24"
(30cm - 60cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen
Native Plants United States, Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Southwest, Midwest, Southeast, Northeast, Indiana, Missouri, Michigan, Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, Alabama, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma
Tolerance Full Shade, Drought, Deer, Rabbit, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes, Beds And Borders, Ground Covers, Underplanting Roses And Shrubs
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Polystichum munitum (Western Sword Fern)
Polystichum polyblepharum (Japanese Tassel Fern)
Polystichum tsussimense (Korean Rock Fern)
Polystichum setiferum ‘Pulcherrimum Bevis’ (Soft Field Fern)
Polystichum setiferum (Divisilobum Group) ‘Herrenhausen’ (Soft Field Fern)
Polystichum setiferum (Soft Field Fern)

Recommended Companion Plants

Larix decidua (European Larch)
Hosta (Plantain Lily)
Astilbe
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 3 - 8
Heat Zones 1 - 8
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Ferns
Plant Family Dryopteridaceae
Genus Polystichum
Common names Christmas Fern, Fern
Exposure Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spacing 12" - 24"
(30cm - 60cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen
Native Plants United States, Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Southwest, Midwest, Southeast, Northeast, Indiana, Missouri, Michigan, Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, Alabama, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma
Tolerance Full Shade, Drought, Deer, Rabbit, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes, Beds And Borders, Ground Covers, Underplanting Roses And Shrubs
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Not sure which Polystichum (Shield Fern) to pick?
Compare Now

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