Southern Shield Fern
Southern Shield Fern - Dryopteris cristata
Shield Ferns are a sturdy mid-sized fern, which are simple to grow. Shield Ferns are similar to most ferns in that they seem to grow best in shaded moist areas. This fern does particularly well in the Southeast, as this is its native habitat in North America. It is a great option for groundcover in relatively poor, moist soils beneath shade trees. Shield Ferns have particularly elegant fronds with broader and thicker leaves than many other ferns in its size category. This fern will typically die down somewhat in winter, and then grow back during the spring.
The Southern Shield Fern changes its colors in the fall after the first hard frost. The fronds turn a cinnamon brown and look lovely when the frost coats them. It goes by several names including Southern Wood fern and Kunth's Maiden fern.
The plant's roots form clumps or balls, that can be easily divided. It grows and spreads quickly to provide greenery if you have a wooded area on your property. It also grows well on steep hillsides. Once it is settled into the ground, the Southern Shield Fern does not require much maintenance except culling and some watering if there is a long dry spell. This Flordia native has become a favorite filler for shade gardens and creek banks.
This sturdy fern is perfect to complement your other plants and provide shade to delicate flowers. You can also plant this fern around the border of your garden to provide a nice finish to your home. The Shield Fern does not bloom with flowers, but it does stretch horizontally to provide a nice amount of coverage to any large area. This fern reflects the sturdiness and delicate beauty of raw nature. For care, this lovely plant needs full shade and weekly watering. Whether you are an avid gardener, or just starting out, this fern plant will make a great addition to your garden.