zone 5 fern
zone 5 fern
(Image credit: AtWaG)

Ferns are fantastic plants to grow because of their wide adaptability. They’re thought to be one of the oldest living plants, which means they know a thing or two about how to survive. Quite a few fern species are particularly good at thriving in cold climates. Keep reading to learn more about selecting hardy ferns for zone 5.

Cold Hardy Fern Plants

Growing ferns in zone 5 really doesn’t require any special treatment, provided the plants you ultimately choose for the garden are, in fact, zone 5 ferns. This means as long as they’re hardy to the area, the ferns should pretty much thrive on their own, other than the occasional watering in overly dry situations. Lady fern – Hardy to zone 4, lady fern can reach anywhere from 1 to 4 feet (31 cm. to 1 m.) in height. Extremely tough, it survives in a wide range of soils and levels of sun. The Lady in Red variety has striking red stems. Japanese Painted fern – Extremely hardy all the way down to zone 3, Japanese painted fern is especially ornamental. Green and gray deciduous fronds grow on red to purple stems. Hay-scented fern – Hardy to zone 5, hay-scented fern gets its name from the sweet smell it gives off when crushed or brushed against. Autumn fern – Hardy to zone 5, autumn fern emerges in the spring with a striking copper color, earning it its name. Its fronds turn to green in summer, then change to copper again in the fall. Dixie Wood fern – Hardy to zone 5, dixie wood fern reaches 4 to 5 feet (1-1.5 m.) in height with sturdy, bright green fronds. Evergreen Wood fern – Hardy to zone 4, evergreen wood fern has dark green to blue fronds that grow up and out of a single crown. Ostrich fern – Hardy to zone 4, ostrich fern has tall, 3 to 4 foot (1 m.) fronds that resemble the feathers of which earn the plant its name. It prefers very moist soil. Christmas fern – Hardy to zone 5, this dark green fern prefers moist, rocky soil and shade. Christmas fern's name derives from the fact that it tends to remain green year-round. Bladder fern – Hardy to zone 3, the bladder fern reaches 1 to 3 feet (31-91 cm.) in height and prefers rocky, moist soil. 

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.