By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
Trying your hand at Christmas fern care indoor care, as well as growing Christmas fern outdoors, is a great way to enjoy unique interest year round. Let’s learn more about Christmas ferns and how to grow them inside and out.
About Christmas Ferns
Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) is a deciduous evergreen fern that grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 3-9. This particular fern is known as a Christmas fern because some parts of the plant stay green all year long. Dark green leaves, or fronds, reach up to three-feet long and four inches wide. This plant brings color and interest to a garden when other plants are dormant.
Growing Christmas Ferns
Growing a Christmas fern outdoors requires minimal effort. Christmas tree ferns do best in an area that receives part shade or full shade, although they will tolerate some sun.
These ferns, like other outdoor ferns, enjoy moist, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Plant Christmas ferns after the last frost, placing them 18 inches apart and deep enough to hold the roots without crowding.
After planting put a four-inch layer of pine needle, shredded bark or leaf mulch around plants. Mulch will help protect plants and retain moisture.
Christmas Fern Care
The care of Christmas ferns is not difficult. Ferns should be watered once a week, or as needed, to keep soil consistently moist but not overly saturated. Without adequate moisture, ferns will experience leaf drop. During the hottest days of summer, pay particular attention to watering.
A light application of granular fertilizer that is designed specifically for acid-loving plants should be applied around the soil under the fern the second spring after planting. Feed annually after this point.
Although you do not have to prune Christmas ferns, you can remove fronds that have been damaged or have turned brown at any time.
Christmas Ferns Indoors
Since the Victorian era, people have enjoyed growing all types of ferns indoors. Christmas ferns do best in front of a window that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. Place your fern in a hanging basket or fern stand for best results.
When considering Christmas fern indoor care, keep the soil evenly moist but not over saturated and mist plants once a week to increase humidity.
Remove brown or damaged leaves at any time and use an appropriate granular fertilizer.