Christmas fern, polystichum acrostichoides, is a low-maintenance, hardy evergreen fern. Christmas ferns can be used in borders, woodland gardens, or in container plantings. Find more facts and information on growing and caring for this hardy fern.
Christmas Fern Facts
Christmas fern is a perennial plant with an irregular form. It can be grown in Zones 3-8 and will reach heights of 18”h x 36” wide. It also prefers partial to full shade and fertile, moist, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5-7.0. This evergreen low-maintenance fern has fronds that are narrow, lance-shaped, and deep green. Place an odd-numbered groups in the woodland garden, the shade border, or the container. Good companion plants include ‘Frances Williams’ hosta, goatsbeard, and dwarf Chinese astilbe.
Christmas Fern Care
Plant 24-36” apart in spring or autumn. Apply slow-release granular plant food at the time of planting or begin using soluble plant food 3 weeks after planting in spring. Follow label directions for amount and frequency of use. Stop feeding the fern 4-6 weeks prior to the first frost date. Apply 3” of vegetative mulch in summer and winter to reduce weed seed germination, retain soil moisture, and keep soil temperatures stable. Water deeply when the soil is dry. Trim back damaged and dead fronds in early spring before new ones emerge.
Propagation is done by dividing in spring. Simply dig around the rhizomes and lift. Be sure to use a sharp spade to slice through the root system. Reset portions that contain healthy roots and top shoots. Water deeply and apply 3” of vegetative mulch around, but not touching the plant itself.
Pests and diseases are relatively non-existent if all its cultural needs are met.
Related species include:
Hardy shield fern (P. aculeatum) is a European native hardy in Zones 3-6 and grows to 2’ tall.
Western sword fern (P. munitum) is hardy in Zones 3-8 and grows to 3’.
Hedge fern (P. setiferum) grows 2-4’ tall in Zones 6-9.