Western Maiden Hair Fern is native from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska south mainly through shady wet spots in the west south as far as Chiahuahua, Mexico. Its even locally native from Maryland to New Foundland. Its a long lived and vigorous fully deciduous perennial for perpetually wet sites. To 2′ tall and spreading almost indefinitely where conditions suite it. Heavy clay soil that retains consistent moisture in part shade to shade. Often found lining water falls in Oregon or in deep cool moist gullies. The multi fingered leaves are a soft green and are held erect on jet black stems. Very good sited at the bottom of a downspout. Very easy to grow given consistent moisture. Oregon native plant.
Plant Type: Fern
Ferns are critical in our climate as they occupy vast tracts of our own native lands. Though Polystichum minutum Western Sword Fern is durable and ubiquitous it shows us that ours is a climate that embraces ferns from similar climates all over the world. The majority of ferns that we offer are evergreen. This is an important selling point in a climate that sees little snow/cold. Ferns for the most part are relegated to shade but there are quite a few that revel in full sun too. Cheilanthes is one genus that takes quite a bit of sun. Others are ideal for permanently wet locations such as our native five finger fern Adiantum aleuticum or Dryopteris x ‘Ghost’.
Our native ferns can take some dry conditions.
Many of our native ferns make their lives on the forest floor where they compete with greedy tree roots and interrupted rainfall. Lack of drying sunlight protects these plants and they can be very drought adapted when established.- this includes not only Polystichums Sword Ferns but Blechnum spicant Deer Fern which is the second most common fern found locally. In general ferns prefer rich, amended soil and regular irrigation through our hottest spells. Ferns makes great understory plants and impart a natural and regional look to our gardens.
Himalayan Maidenhair fern is one of our favorite groundcovers for shade and rich, moist soil. The divided fronds in the shape of an arrow are always soft and fresh. In spring this deciduous variety emerges with tones of amber and soft pink before taking on a mature soft green hue. These delicate leaflets are held on thin, wiry black stems to 10″ tall and it spreads prodigiously to form vast colonies. It doesn’t smother neighboring plants however, instead it seems to just flow around such woodland neighbors as Epimedium, Hellebores, even woodland bulbs like Erythronium. Regular summer water. Avoid hard, compacted dry soils. High deer resistance.
Athyrium x ‘Ghost’
A hybrid fern discovred in Oregon and it has become a garden staple. Soft gray/sage green intricately divided fronds arch out from a central rosette. To 2′ tall and as wide in rich, well drained moisture retentive soil in part shade to shade. Loves regular irrigation and bulks up more quickly then. More adaptable than its harder to grow parent Japanese painted fern. Completely deciduous in winter. Takes poorly drained sites. Mix with chartreuse leaved Lamium maculatum ‘Aureum’ and Vancouveria chyrsantha for wonderful woodland trio. Emerges in March- not bothered by snails/slugs or deer. Excellent in shady, perennial containers. Good appearance thought hot summers with irrigation. A classic.
Blechnum penna-marina (Austroblechnum penna-marina)
Antarctic Water Fern is a low creeping evergreen ground cover fern for moist shady sites. To just 5″ tall the new fronds emerge a bright red before settling to soft green. The pointed finely divided leaves overlap densely creating a cover that blocks weeds. Slowly expands up to 3′-4′ wide when really happy. Rich, moisture retentive soil with regular summer water. Avoid compacted dry clay- does not like. Easy to grow in woodlands, Excellent performance under large shrubs. Avoid hot sun. Good small scale shady ground cover. High deer resistance. Chile.
Blechnum spicant (Struthiopteris spicant)
The second most common fern in western Oregon Deer fern is a lovely native evergreen clumping perennial that is invaluable. 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. Excellent native fern for life between Rhododendrons and Pieris that are ancient. This fern loves part shade and cool moist soils but has a bit of drought adaptation as well. Its supremely adapted to to the rough life of competition. Useful plant that looks very good year round. Design by Vanessa Gardner Nagel Seasons Design. Oregon native plant.
Cliff and rock dwelling elegant evergreen silver fern. Forms a tight clump and the silver gray fronds are slender and rise to about 8″ tall. It is capable of going summer or dry dormant when established. At its best in well drained rock gardens with some protection from blasting sun. In the wild the cliffs they occupy often shade them for half the day. Its a great container fern where it thrives and always looks nice. Best with consistent light moisture. Deer resistant.
Wooly Lipfern. yeah. This pretty and felty gray fern is widespread over North America. Clump forming gray fern that rises to about 10″ tall. Very elegant plant most often seen in very well drained somewhat dry sites. Full sun to part shade- protection from the most blasting heat. Light, consistent water in summer. Excellent in containers, troughs where it really does its best. Moderately deer resistant.
Japanese Holly fern we love as a great fairly large evergreen. Large glossy fronds extend to 2′ long in a substantial rosette. Part shade to shade in rich, well drained soil with regular summer water. Very heat tolerant- but requires shade. Excellent container fern- great winter appearance. High deer resistance. Mass under shrubs, in woodlands for a great texture and year round good form.
Matteuccia struthiopteris ‘The King’
First rate, cold hardy and excellently adapted to permanently wet sites in part shade to shade. This larger form of the Ostrich Fern forms a large crown in time. It supports very vertical soft green fronds to 3′ tall. In time the clumps increase in size. Rich, moisture retentive soil with regular summer irrigation. Creek margins, bogs, the edge of ponds. Completely deciduous in winter. Often turns showy russet orange before dying down. Returns in mid spring. Loathes drought and avoid hot sun. Opulent fern and a great selection. Moderate deer resistance.
Button fern from New Zealand is a very pretty, symmetrical evergreen fern for the most protected sites. Forms an arching rosette of round leaves lining wiry stems. New growth is ochre changing to dark green. To 9″ tall and about 1′ wide in time. Part shade to shade in rich well drained soil with regular summer moisture. Protect from subfreezing wind by placing it under the branches of taller shrubs or near a north facing wall. Excellent houseplant. Slow to increase in size- be patient. Cover with remay or leaves if temperatures threaten to drop below 20ºF. Great performance at the Oregon Coast. Moderately deer resistant.
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. Doesn’t normally begin growing until consistent days above 70ºF. Cold hardy to 5ºF. Evergreen.Easy to grow. The mountains of Mexico.
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 as an epiphyte trees, 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. A natural for the Oregon coast which is its native home. Oregon native plant.
Western sword fern is one of the most ubiquitous plants on the west side of the Cascades. In many forests in the Coast Range and Cascade foothills it is the sole understory plant. Western sword fern is a large species with long arching fronds. Adaptable to a host of situations. Often self sown spore will show up in the oddest places. I’ve seen it as an epiphyte and even self sown into hot concrete steps. In rich, acidic soil this evergreen fern soar- provided soils rich in humus, organic matter and protected from direct sun with consistent access to water. Very well adapted to our winter wet/ summer dry climate- it will cruise through dry summers unscathed. In the garden it does useful duty in the toughest, dry, shadiest sites. Along with Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior) and Ophiopogon (Lily turf) it is one of the best dry shade inhabitants. As an understory component it is often accompanied by Cascades Mahonia (Mahonia nervosa), Inside-out-flower, (Vancouveria hexandra), and Pacific Blackberry (Rubus ursinus). To 4′ x 4′ in ideal situations. Though it is evergreen western sword fern does go through a transitional period before new croziers unfurl in spring. The 3′ long fronds begin to lie flat on the ground by winter. This is the time to remove tired, old leaves. and make way for fresh, new, unfurling foliage. Though very tough western sword fern does look its best with consistent light water. Supremely deer and rabbit resistant. Long lived and not a slow grower. Oregon native plant.
Relatively new fern that excites us. Asian Saber Fern ( doesn’t that sound lovely- a little Klingon in the Dryopteraceae). Evergreen fern with really pretty glossy intricately serrated fronds. To 2′ x 2′ for part shade to shade in rich, moisture retentive sites. So far its been a vigorous adaptable and really nice looking fern for us. Excellent woodland appearance- in fact it looks good year round. The arctic winter of 2017 left this glossy creature completely unfazed. We like that. Should be invaluable in winter containers. Pest and disease free plant. Highly deer resistant. Spreads to form multiple rosettes.
Immensely handsome glossy evergreen fern with intricate large leaves Forms a large rosette up to 2 1/2′ wide and just 14″ tall. Small hairs line the stems and give this fern its specific epithet of blepharum – eyelashes. Known as Eyelash fern for this trait. Full shade to part shade in rich, moisture retentive soil. Regular summer water. Mass as a shady ground cover or bed underneath old established shrubs. Year round good looking with no damage from the hardest winters. Easy. High deer resistance.
Polystichum setiferum var. divisilobum
Soft Shield fern is native to Alaska- well points north in general. That means its bone hardy to cold but its also a fantastic evergreen fern for dry shade in our region. Finely divided fronds taper to 2′ long. The central stem is a soft furry brown- good contrast. Spreading colony creating fern to 3′ across. It has the unique habit of vivipary. It makes small new plants spontaneously right off the frond. Useful. Good looking appearance year round. Rich, moisture retentive soil with regular water to establish. Incredibly drought adapted when older – as long as its in shade. High deer resistance. May be cut back hard in early spring to refreshen. Grows very quickly.
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.
Tongue fern from Asia is also known as a leather fern in reference to the robust thickness and texture of the leaves. These evergreen ferns creep stoloniferously to create patches. Not rocket fast, but you can enhance growth in rich, well drained soil with regular SUMMER water. This semi-subtropical-ish fern grows fastest during summer so thats when you supply water. Otherwise it is tolerant of very dry conditions and will make due with one spring moisture burst of growth. Very good appearance year round. Part shade to shade- reasonable shade, not a dark planter under the Brady Bunch stairway but bright shade. Mixes well with Aspidistra elatior (Cast Iron Plant) and Asarum splendens a green and textural combination that looks good year round. And sometimes in dry shade thats the best you can ask. HEH. To 18″ tall and spreading several feet wide with care. Long lived and cold hardy to about 5ºF. Avoid strong subfreezing east wind which can scorch the edges. Great in shady containers. Even successful as a houseplant. Moderate deer resistance.
Pyrrosia lingua ‘Variegata’
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.
Our native Giant Chain Fern that occupies specific spots in seeps randomly from CA to BC. Large pendant and trailing 3′ long glossy fronds form huge rosettes. Usually occupying permanently wet seeps on shady hillsides in cool places. The entire plant may be up to 5′ across. Evergreen but it benefits greatly from some early spring tidying of spent and aging old leaves. Part shade to shade in rich well drained soil with regular consistent moisture for the best look. Highly deer resistant. We’re honored to grow this, one of our most spectacular native ferns. Oregon native plant.
Relatively new fern with a great future ahead. Large growing evergreen chain fern from Asia with new growth lavishly dyed red- it settles to soft green with time. To 3′ across the fronds are held atop relatively long stems. The rubbery green leaves are finely divided with surprisingly soft lobes. Rich, moisture retentive soil in bright shade to shade. Spectacular plant at all times we have observed it. So far it has not suffered damage in my garden below 10ºF and appearance following a rough winter was good. Highly deer resistant. Spectacular.