The Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) is a native fern you will often times find in the woods and ditches both in the heat of summer and dead of winter. It is an evergreen plant in zones 3-9 with no preference for soil type. It is a great native plant to use for soil erosion on slopes and embankments as well as an addition to shade gardens with Hosta, Astilbe, and Coral Bells (Heuchera).
The Christmas fern can grow upwards of 2′ tall and wide especially in higher zones. In the summer most of the fronds (leaves) are erect. However, in the winter the fronds seem to collapse on the ground and spread out as if they are tired from the long winter days.
Adding the Christmas fern is an easy way to add texture and interest to your shade garden all year round. When you add native plants you will also find that they adapt much easier than some cultivars and ornamental plants in the landscape. I love mixing native plants with other perennials and annuals to give a lot of color and contrast in my gardens.
There are other ferns that I have in my shade garden and I will write about them soon. But for now, you can check out one of my earlier blogs (link below) on the Painted Japanese Fern which may not be a native but it is easy to grow and divide and a beauty in the shade garden.
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