Q I received a plant catalog and they mentioned Christmas fern. Can we grow it here?

A: According to North Carolina State University, it is in cold hardiness zone 9, so you might want to try it. Christmas fern, Polystichum acrostichoides, gets its common name from some parts of the plant remain green throughout the year in Northern states which makes it one of the few available greenery plants for use in decorations at Christmas time. The dark, green leaves (fronds) of the fern grow from 2-3 feet long and are about four inches wide. They are tough, leathery and have a pointed tip. The fronds are attached to a relatively short stalk that is brown at its soil base and green toward its apex. So don’t worry if you see the color differentiation – it is perfectly normal. It can grow in dense shade to partial shade, but must be kept out of the sun. Dappled light through tree canopy would be acceptable. Soils of moderate moisture and a more neutral pH are preferred. This pH preference is reflected in the increased densities of Christmas ferns in soils found in areas which overlie limestone bedrock, a similar situation for Northeast Florida. Christmas fern is seldom found in soils too waterlogged, so be sure you do not over-water these plants. All of my ferns are seldom watered except by rain. Christmas ferns, like many other ornamentals, are susceptible to fern scale insects and mealy bugs which can cause extensive damage to the plants if not caught early. Food grade diatomaceous earth (not the powder used in pool filtration) will control the mealy bugs. You can also apply ultra-fine horticulture oil or insecticidal soap for the scale or mealy bugs. Christmas fern is a much better choice of fern than the Class I invasive Boston or Sword fern. Please, please, please, stop planting the invasive fern (Boston) in the landscape and in palms – sorry, I got on my soap box!


Posted: June 13, 2017

Category: Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Home Landscapes
Tags: Christmas Fern, Polystichum Acrostichoides

Subscribe For More Great Content

IFAS Blogs Categories