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Polystichum (poh-LISS-tik-um)

Common Name:  Christmas fern, tassel fern, soft needle fern

Light:  - Part sun to full shade

Soil:  Rich, moist but well-drained

Moisture:  Average

Zones:  varies by species


Polystichum acrostichoides

Polystichum s. 'Herrenhausen'

Polystichum Description and Cultural Information

Polystichum acrostichoides, Christmas fern. 24 - 36". Christmas ferns have leathery, dark green, lance-shaped leaflets. They are evergreen and useful in dried arrangements. Zones 3 - 8.

Polystichum polyblepharum, tassel fern. 18 - 24". Tassel ferns have beautiful, fuzzy golden crosiers in the spring which uncurl to deep green, shiny leaves. Zones 5 - 9.

Polystichum setiferum, soft needle fern, soft shield fern. 18 - 36". This easy to grow fern has lance-shaped fronds that can be glossy and medium green and are soft to the touch when they first emerge. The clumps spread slowly from the main crown and tend to arch and droop as they mature. The variety 'Herrenhausen' is a very attractive form with finely divided pinnae and lightly toothed margins, giving it a feathery appearance. Zones 5 - 8.

How to Grow:  Plant Christmas and tassel ferns in humus-rich, loamy, moist but well-drained soil in part to full shade. They will tolerate a fair amount of sunlight if the soil is kept reasonably moist. Plants are clump forming and can be divided in spring, replanting the rhizomes just below the soil.

Landscape uses:  These ferns make wonderful accents in the shade garden. Plant them with hostas, astilbe, bleeding hearts, foam flowers (Tiarella), lungworts (Pulmonaria), Tradescantia, and Tricyrtis.

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