University of Maryland Extension

Christmas Fern

Author: 
Ellen Nibali

Polystichum acrostichoides

Christmas fern stays glossy and evergreen in winter when most ferns have shriveled and gone dormant.  In spring, new fronds grow stiffly upright. Hard frosts and snows push them down, but even then they remain effective in the landscape.  With their creeping rhizomes, and self-seeding where happy, Christmas fern makes a slow spreading, loose, groundcover 1-2 feet tall. These Maryland natives mingle well with bulbs and ferns in woodlands, on streambanks, or in perennial borders.  They prefer moist, acidic, humusy forest soils, so work organic matter into their planting bed. They can endure dry soils in shade and tolerate sun as long as soil is moist. Divide clumps in spring or fall. Deer leave them alone.

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