Deer fern is a lovely native evergreen clumping perennial that is invaluable in wild areas. The tiered upright and then settling to horizontal mid green glossy fronds are handsome all the time. To 2′ wide and 2′ tall (when fronds are emerging). Rich, moisture retentive soil high in organic matter. Light summer water in part shade to shade. Familiar fern of the Oregon Cascades but very widespread. High deer resistance. Oregon native plant.
Our native Licorice Fern that has a backwards season. It emerges all fresh and happy with the first cool weather and rains in autumn and persists that way until hot weather takes hold, then it quietly (and cleanly) disappears. Forms spreading colonies on any light surface including the vertical slopes of rocks and trees. The base of the plant forms an interconnected series of rhizomes that cling to anything. It escapes all drought and heat by summer dormancy. Neat trick. If you detach the fronds and bite into the base of the petiole it delivers a strong anise/licorice flavor. This remarkable plant should be common in living walls and green roofs that would require no supplemental irrigation- and actually thrive and look healthy. Excellent performance in the ground in rich, well drained soil. Water as they say is irrelevant. Highly deer resistant. Oregon native plant.
Fun little hardy evergreen polypody that has perfectly vertical fronds that rise to just 6″ high. In time it forms dense colonies. Very fun to grow in part shade to shade. A great evergreen texture to repeat in a woodland. Excellent appearance even after the most brutal winter. Surprise. To 2′ wide in rich, hummusy soil and regular summer water. Apply an annual application of mulch right over the top of the leaves each spring to feed and hold moisture . High deer resistance.
Coast Polypody or creeping leather fern is an evergreen colony forming plant that is native from British Columbia south along the coast to even the Guadelupe Island off of Baja. It makes its home on logs, rocks, the ground almost anywhere it finds adequate moisture and shade. During the summer it will take a surprising amount of dryness but we recommend light consistent irrigation for the best appearance and to spur multiplication. Fronds to 10″ long with rounded lobes. Excellent garden plant, grows very well in rich to average soil as well. Good year round appearance. A native fern that should be grown all the time. Great in winter containers- excellent winter appearance with little maintenance. Protect from hot sun. Highly deer resistant. Oregon native plant.
Three fingered felt fern. This clump forming evergreen fern has been a fantastic performer in the ground in the Portland area. The large sage green leaves have three finger like lobes and are held horizontally at the ends of 6″ stems. Forms a dense clump that expands slowly in rich, well drained soil with light but consistent summer water. Part shade to dense shade and it will tolerate quite dry shade when established. An excellent fern for planters and containers in hopelessly dark dry places (usually with a few dead or dwindling plants) this won’t do that. Excellent in containers with great winter appearance. Its been hardy in the coldest winters in my garden- below 10ºF. (Sometimes rated as zone 6…um no). Slow to increase- be diligent with water. Makes an admirable houseplant. Moderate deer resistance. Taiwan.
Variegated tongue fern. So called for the tall oblong shaped evergreen fronds that rise up vertically. This form has new growth marked with chartreuse stripes that fade a bit with maturity. Spreads to form colonies by furry stolons on the surface of the soil. Rich, well drained soil in part shade to dense shade. A great evergreen presence for really dry, dark spots. Avoid hot sun. Regular summer water increases the growth rate which is typically slow. May suffer some damage in the coldest winters (below 10ºF) remove those fronds and more will appear. Mix with other denizens of the dark- Aspidistra, Ophiopogon etc. Moderate deer resistance. Taiwan.