Christmas and Holly Ferns

— Written By and last updated by Nancie Mandeville
en Español

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In the spirit of the season I wanted to talk about two evergreen ferns that you might consider adding to your landscape. The first fern is commonly called the Christmas Fern and is native to the eastern United States. Its common name comes from the fact that it is green at Christmas time and the individual leaflets somewhat resemble a Christmas stocking. The Christmas fern will grow in part to full shade and once established will tolerate dry soil, making it a good choice for planting in dry woodland areas. The Christmas Fern grows 1-2′ tall and wide. It will not spread or naturalize, but clumps will increase in size over time. This is a good plant to use in mass on dry, shady slopes to help combat soil erosion.

The second is called the Holly or Japanese Holly Fern and is native to Japan and Asia. Its common name reflects the fact that the fronds resemble holly branches. This fern prefers moist, high-organic, well-drained soils in part to full shade. Holly Fern will grow 1-2′ tall and 2-3′ wide in a dense vase shape. This fern will spread by spores carried on the wind. It will also tolerate dry air so is a good candidate for use as a house plant.

Both of these ferns want well-drained soils to keep their roots from rotting in the winter. Both are also resistant to damage from deer and suffer no major insect or disease problems. Because these ferns are evergreen, they add interest and texture to the garden in the winter. Check your local garden center or nursery for these low maintenance plants.