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.
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.
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.