Christmas Fern - Polystichum acrostichoides
The Christmas fern well deserves its name because the bright green foliage of the plant will last throughout the holiday season. The fronds grow in clusters and are usually 1 to 2 feet in length. They grow from a crownless root and are very easily grown and maintained in the right conditions. For the best growing results plant this fern in a shady area so it will have moist and well drained soil.
The fern works very well as an evergreen border. If you want to use it for ground cover keep in mind that it is a clumping plant and does not form a continuous carpet like some ground cover ferns will, but the clumps will increase in size as time goes by. The Christmas fern is not a flowering plant and does well in most climates because it is frost tolerant. In the winter the leaves will usually lay on the ground rather than stand up but they do retain the glossy green color. The fern's range is Eastern North America and it is native to Missouri where it grows in both dry and moist conditions on wooded slopes, ravines and banks.
It is an excellent plant to be used on slopes in your landscaping to help with soil erosion. When the fronds are young and coiled (these are called fiddleheads on most ferns) they will have a silvery color and will feel a little rough to the touch. These ferns are a hardy plant and rarely have serious insect or disease issues. One known problem can be crown rot if the fern is planted in areas that are not well drained and if this occurs it will usually be in the winter months. The Christmas fern also grows well indoors if planted in a hanging basket or fern stand with moist soil and placed near a window that gets morning sun only. Always mist once a week for humidity. Enjoy!