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Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)

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Hardy fern grow sheet
Species Distribution Map: Click to enlarge
Map Color Key © 2013 BONAP

Polystichum acrostichoides

Christmas fern

While not as showy as some others, this fern makes up for it with its neat habit, easy culture, and its lustrous, nearly evergreen leaves. Often used in Christmas floral arrangements because it is still attractive in December. It is a wonderful companion for spring blooming bulbs. Found in acidic to neutral soils on shaded slopes and well drained flats.

Polystichum acrostichoides LP32 - 32 per flat Availability
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12-18 Inches


12-18 Inches


12 Inches

Bloom Color

USDA Hardiness Zone 3-9

Christmas fern Interesting Notes

While not as showy as some others, Christmas fern makes up for its lack of show with its neat habit, easy culture, and its lustrous, nearly evergreen leaves. Polystichum acrostichoides is often used in Christmas floral arrangements because it is one of the few plants still attractive in December. Christmas fern grows up to 2’ tall and equally as wide, it can be commonly found in the wild in loose colonies or as a single plant. We find it to be a wonderful companion for spring blooming bulbs and it is a lovely evergreen groundcover, especially in difficult shady spots with rocky soil and along slopes.

Polystichum acrostichoides can be found from northern Canada all the way to Florida and as far west as Texas and Kansas. It prefers acidic to neutral soils on shaded slopes and well drained flats in part shade to full shade. Christmas fern is very adaptable and can tolerate shady rich soils as well as poor soil with limestone bedrock close to the surface. It is very commonly found in deciduous forests of the Mid-Atlantic region and once established, Christmas fern tolerates periods of drought.

Unless deer are desperate, Polystichum acrostichoides is very deer resistant as well as rabbit resistant, and a pleasing choice in shady locations for the woodland garden or as foundation planting. When planted en masse, Polystichum acrostichoides helps prevent soil erosion on slopes. In damp areas, planting the fern at an angle and slightly above the soil line can help with crown rot. Like most ferns, Polystichum acrostichoides has limited relationships with insects and animals, mostly providing habitat for smaller creatures and the leaves providing some forage for leaf-sucking insects.

Polystichum acrostichoides Growing and Maintenance Tips

Grow in part or full shade in well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Water well on planting and regularly until established. Drought tolerant.

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Shade
Full Shade
Part Sun
Part Sun
Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant
Drought Tolerant
Drought Tolerant
Cut Flower
Cut Flower

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Green Infrastructure
Wetland Indicator Status
Falcutative Upland (FACU)
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
Native to North America
Propagation Type
Tissue culture