30 Types of Ferns To Grow Indoor and Outdoor: Pics, Names, Fern Identification

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | March 1, 2024

Man looking at various types of ferns and wondering how to conduct identification and if there is a fern guide with pictures and growing conditions that explains how to grow ferns indoors and outdoors, like hurricane, maidenhair and other fern types.

Have you ever wondered how many types of ferns there are?

Like most plants, the number of varieties is large…over 10,000 species in fact, and many of them feature only very slight differences to be classified as separate.

But, if you are looking for some lovely and lush ferns to grow (both indoors and out), this complete guide explains everything you need to know about the types of ferns that will work best in certain conditions.

Graphics of types of outdoor ferns showing Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis), Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis), Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata), Water Fern (Azolla filiculoides), Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum), Australian Tree Fern (Cyathea cooperi, syn. Sphaeropteris cooperi), Hairy Lip Fern (Cheilanthes lanosa syn. Myriopteris lanosa), Holly Fern (Cyrtomium falcatum, syn. Aspidium falcatum), and Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina) leaf images.

(Hairy Lip Fern Image: Shaun Pogacnik36)

Whether you plan to plant them indoors or outside, it also includes care tips for keeping your ferns healthy and thriving, regardless of where you live.

Are Ferns Evergreen? (Types of Ferns To Grow Outdoors With Fern Identification)

So you’ve decided to get a fern. You’ve got a corner cleared inside and a piece of land outside set aside ready for your new plant.

So which one do you get, are ferns perennials or evergreen, and how to identify fern plants when they all look so similar?


(Polypodiopsida or Polypodiophyta)

Ferns in oval frame on green background.
  • Family: Aspleniaceae
  • Genus: Asplenium
  • Leaf: Thin leaves are attached directly to the main stem instead of from a separate one. This phenomenon is referred to as being sessile
  • Native Habitat: New Zealand
  • Height: From 3 feet to 80 feet
  • Canopy: From 3 feet to 40 feet
  • Type: Herbaceous perennials, meaning that the top growth of the plants dies back in winter but the roots and bulbs survive for the next season
  • Native Growing Zone: Ferns grow well in tropical forests and near bodies of water

A few facts to be aware of are that some species of fronds are evergreen while others will have their leaves die back in winter and regrow in spring, and so are classed as herbaceous perennials.1

Another crucial point is that all fern species do not actually have leaves. What many often describe as fern leaves are in reality fronds.

The distinction between the two is that ferns do not produce seeds like other plants as they do not grow any flowers.

They traditionally have a feathery look and the fronds, which grow pinnately from a central shaft, reproduce from spores that get carried away on prevailing winds. These tiny spores are encased in capsules called sori which are noticeable on the underside of the fronds.

The color, the way they are arranged, and the texture can help to identify the different ferns.

There are some spore capsules that have a different shape similar to a grain of rice which are very noticeable on the fronds by the pattern they make. These are called Spleenwort, and the sori are actually called sorus for reference purposes.

This pinnate appearance is not consistent throughout all the species as some of them have a division of the fronds that make them appear even more feathery and light.

These particular types of ferns are referred to as being finely cut as they look so delicate, and this can assist as a mode of identification. The stipe, which is the main stem supporting the fern from the ground up, and the rachis which branch from it, can also help by their color, shape, and also if they have fine hairs sprouting from them.

Types of Outdoor Ferns (Fern Identification, Fern Growing Zone, and Outdoor Fern Care)

One of the main advantages of installing ferns in an outdoor setting is the option of planting in unappealing areas where the sun doesn’t shine.

A vacant lot will often appear under a tree that has a wide canopy such as a Jacaranda Tree, a Honey Locust Tree (Gleditsia triacanthos),2 or a Mesquite Tree. These types of trees cast long shadows and wasted spaces that can become an eyesore.

These empty gaps can sometimes occur no matter how hard a landscape is designed, a black spot where the sun just cannot reach, where most plants cannot survive.

Planting a mixture of the hardy fern varieties in that seemingly unwelcome spot would add shades of green, and loads of texture, and fill out the landscape.

Fortunately, even in what appears to be a less-than-inviting spot for other plants, ferns are very easy to grow and care for under those sunless zones.

Even the tender varieties can be summer grown in the garden and brought inside for protection when the harsh winters drop.

1. Sensitive Fern

(Onoclea sensibilis)

The name derives from its sensitivity to frost, although it is sometimes known as “Bead Fern.” It has a coarse texture but as soon as the first frost bites, the fronds tend to die off quickly, hence the name.

It is a deciduous perennial fern that can grow from medium to large.

As spring approaches, the capsules will crack open from the increase in humidity and release the spores.

Top shot of Sensitive Fern in a pot showing serrated edge-like fronds.

(Image: hardyplants25)

  • Height: 3-4 feet
  • Width: 3-4 feet
  • USDA HZ: 4-8

For best results: The roots prefer a constant moisture content in the soil while the rest of the plant thrives in a fully shaded location.

Closeup of Royal fern showing green pinnate fronds growing from leaf stems.

(Image: Jim Kingdon15)

  • Height: 2-5 feet
  • Width: 2-3 feet
  • USDA HZ: 3-9

2. Royal Fern

(Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis)

Commonly found in North and South America, this fern has a regal, upright bearing with broad perennial fronds with pinnae leaflets, and with the right conditions they can grow up to 6 feet tall.

Bright green with separated leaflets throughout the summer, the fronds morph into a red-brown hue in the fall.

For best results: It is possible to grow directly in a pool of water, but normally wet soil close to a pond is sufficient, or close to a shaded marshy area. Dry climates can be tolerated as long as there is regular watering.

3. Ostrich Fern

(Matteuccia struthiopteris)

The similarity in shape and size of the feathery fronds to ostrich feathers is unmistakable.3

Perennial and deciduous by nature, the fronds emerge gracefully in spring from the base in upright plumes of finely dissected leaflets.

As the summer ends, dormancy sets in and the leaflets die off.

Closeup of Ostrich Fern Plant showing ostrich-like-feathers fronds.

(Image: W.carter24)

  • Height: 3-6 feet
  • Width: 3-4 feet
  • USDA HZ: 3-7

For best results: Planting by streams or in zones that are boggy or constantly wet, areas that other plants abhor, will see this fern grow tall. And like most ferns, it prefers to be in the shade instead of the sunlight.

Closeup of Boston Fern Showing fronds growing upright with pinnate leaflets.

(Image: Li Xiaohan16)

  • Height: 2-3 feet
  • Width: 2-3 feet
  • USDA HZ: 9-11

4. Boston Fern

(Nephrolepis exaltata)

Lush and compact is the best way to describe this evergreen plant whose arching leaves branch outwards in an unkempt and shaggy fashion. The light green fronds have a serrated appearance and overall will introduce a burst of life to a corner of any room.

For best results: Accustomed to humid forests, it is an excellent fern for planting along shaded walkways as ground cover, or in potted plants indoors with moist to wet soil.

5. Water Fern

(Azolla filiculoides)

These small ferns are one of the most unusual with their natural habitat being slow-moving water or completely still water environments. Green with a hint of red throughout, this is a flat fern with orange or even a deeper red running around the edges.

It is fast-growing and can quickly cover the surface of a lake in a few months before it dies off at the end of summer.

Top shot of Water Fern floating on water showing clusters of small leaves.

(Image: Stickpen32)

  • Size of the stems: 15 cm
  • Width of leaves: 1-2 cm
  • USDA HZ: 7-11

For best results: Even if there are few nutrients in the water as long as there are high levels of phosphorous, this plant can thrive in marshes, canals, and streams.

Top shot of Western Sword Fern situated on dirt covered with mulch showing fronds growing from central shaft.

(Image: Zythème18)

  • Height: 2-4 feet
  • Width: 2-4 feet
  • USDA HZ: 3-8

6. Western Sword Fern

(Polystichum munitum)

Brown, scaly rhizomes emerge among this sword-like frond that is a native of western North America.4 These ferns are evergreen and are quite dense and lush as they grow, with up to 100 fronds on each plant.

Majestic, and versatile, they need space to grow and will remain fresh and vibrant throughout the seasons. When cut and placed in vases they will last for ages.

For best results: Can be grown in full to partial shade, and well-draining soil serves the roots best.

7. Australian Tree Fern

(Cyathea cooperi, syn. Sphaeropteris cooperi)

The two outstanding features of this tall evergreen perennial are the trunk which has a shaggy appearance that is very rough to the touch. This is accentuated by the cascade of long fronds of up to 20 feet long sprouting elegantly from the top.

Fast growing, it is endemic and very popular in Australia, grown in both gardens and containers.

Wide shot of Australian Tree Fern situated in a forest showing stems with pinnate fronds growing.

(Image: Daderot28)

  • Height: 15-25 feet
  • Width: 10-15 feet
  • USDA HZ: 9-11

For best results: Adaptable to different climatic situations, shade, moist soil, and humid conditions are best for this ornamental plant.

Angled-shot of Hairy Lip Fern situated on gravelly ground showing pinnate leaflets growing on fronds.

(Image: Ghislain Chenais (ghislain118)17)

  • Height: 1-foot
  • Width: 1-2 feet
  • USDA HZ: 5-8

8. Hairy Lip Fern

(Cheilanthes lanosa syn. Myriopteris lanosa)

Unusually for most ferns, the Hairy Lip Fern is a tough one that actually likes dry ground, grows well in crevices, and loves the sun.

It is evergreen under mild conditions and gets its name from the fine hairs along its surface, and these also help to regulate the heat to enable it to withstand fully exposed sunlight situations.

For best results: The advantage of these types of ferns is that they can be planted in rock gardens or borders that do not receive a lot of water.

9. Holly Fern

(Cyrtomium falcatum, syn. Aspidium falcatum)

Native to Asia,5 this low maintenance evergreen shrub can be deciduous in colder climates. The fronds are glossy, dark green, and slightly thicker than some delicate ferns.

This does give it a robust, leathery appearance that looks exceptional in an outdoor setting where it will only require pruning if damaged by frost. Otherwise, plant and water as and when needed.

Holly Fern situated in a plant box showing long stems with dark green and glossy fronds growing from central shaft.

(Image: Hardyplants23)

  • Height: 1-2 feet
  • Width: 2-3 feet
  • USDA HZ: 7-11

For best results: Due to its height, planted along borders or rock gardens. And due to its adaptability, it can also be planted near ponds, as long as both locations have partial or full shade.

Closeup of young Lady Fern situated on the ground showing triangular form of fronds growing from central shaft, with a log in the background.

(Image: Micah Olson19)

  • Height: 1-3 feet
  • Width: 1-2 feet
  • USDA HZ: 4-8

10. Lady Fern

(Athyrium filix-femina)

Deciduous fresh-green fronds are the trademark of this splendid plant even when they adopt a red tinge. These ferns also have unusual red or purple stems that make these plants ornamental features in a garden, not just gap-fillers.

For best results: They can tolerate a fair amount of full sunshine if watered constantly, but perform better in well-draining soils, near streams, and in well-shaded areas.

Types of Ferns for Shade (Pics, Names, Fern Identification)

Selecting the correct fern for a section of your landscape that receives no sunshine at all, not even dappled shade, can make a difference in how hard you will have to work to keep your plants from dying off.

There are some ferns that do very well in shaded areas, yet even they will need some partial sunshine every now and again.

Graphics of types of Ferns for shade showing Sunset Fern (Dryopteris lepidopoda), Tassel Fern (Polystichum polyblepharum), Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum), Hart’s Tongue Fern (Asplenium scolopendrium), and Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) leaf images.

(Sunset Fern Image: Cheng Te Hsu37)

Certain types of ferns such as Dryopteris, Polystichum, or Asplenium that grow under dense canopies in shaded habitats are ideal, and even though they are sun dodgers they still look vibrant and sport a variety of different looks.

Here are just 5 examples that are helping just as much as trees to fight climate change.

11. Sunset Fern

(Dryopteris lepidopoda)

With striking fronds of an olive-green coloring, this fern is an exceptional plant that has a gloss that loves the shade and calls out for attention.6

It appears muted but when strategically placed it is an eye-catcher, gloriously showing off its evergreen foliage throughout the year.

Closeup of Sunset Fern showing green fronds with reddish color at the tips.

(Image: Renee Whelan30)

  • Height: 3 feet
  • Width: 2-3 feet
  • USDA HZ: 5-9

For best results: Plant in loose, well-draining soil where there is definitely all shade all the time. Any prolonged exposure to sunlight will see the color fade somewhat, which would be a shame as that is one of its outstanding features.

Angled shot of Tassel Fern situated on dirt showing fronds with sliver coloring.

(Image: Daderot28)

  • Height: 2-3 feet
  • Width: 2-3 feet
  • USDA HZ: 6-8

12. Tassel Fern

(Polystichum polyblepharum)

This is a dark green fern that has an interesting look with silver coloring along the stipes and fronds.

It is a lush evergreen plant and this contrast of the two colors creates an elegant contrast against the surrounding fauna.

For best results: Positioning in full shade with moist soil that is well-draining will enable this evergreen Fern to grow at its best.

13. Japanese Painted Fern

(Athyrium niponicum)

One of the varieties that do not grow above 2 feet, the pinnae are muted blue-green in color with a deep purple stem and midribs running through the center of each one, adding a touch of elegance.

Deciduous, it may not be one of the fastest growing ferns, but they are easy to grow, easy to care for, and worth the wait.

  • Height: 1-2 feet
  • Width: 1-2 feet
  • USDA HZ: 3-8

For best results: Medium moisture soil is better than a constantly wet one, and these plants are excellent as companion plants to sow beneath trees that cast a big shadow.

Closeup of Hart's Tongue Fern showing bright green long fronds.

(Image: Walter Frehner19)

  • Height: 1-2 feet
  • Width: 1-2 feet
  • USDA HZ: 5-9

14. Hart’s Tongue Fern

(Asplenium scolopendrium)

The name comes from the similarity to a Deer’s Tongue, a term that was used for male deer centuries ago, but this is still a very modern plant that is very durable in most environments.

On the underside of the long evergreen fronds are distinctive patterns formed by the sori that end complementing the crinkled edges of these tongue-shaped fronds.

For best results: Being one of the toughest ferns out there, it is accustomed to growing in crevices, ledges, and clinging to walls, sometimes in moist soil, but always away from the sun.

15. Staghorn Fern

(Platycerium bifurcatum)

Stunning, amazing, unusual, are just a few ways to describe this fern that doesn’t need any soil to grow.

Native to Australia, New Guinea, and Asia, it clings to surfaces, rocks, or trees,14 or maybe even your leg if you stood still long enough, and uses its roots to extract nutrients from the support structure, rain, or from trickling debris.

Hanging Staghorn Fern Plant showing fronds with star-shaped tips.

(Image: Karelj20)

  • Height: 4-6 long
  • Width: 3-4 feet
  • USDA HZ: 9-12

The difference from a typical fern doesn’t stop there. It has two types of fronds that are broader, devoid of leaflets, and are a lot thicker with interesting star-shaped tips.

For best results: Capable of being grown in soil, they are more suitable for growing attached to wooden planks, fences, or hanging baskets where there is a permanent shade.

Types of Ferns Indoor (Fern Houseplant Types and Different Types of Fern Houseplants)

Indoor plants don’t come much easier to grow than ferns.

For other plants, the lack of sunshine or constant exposure for 6-8 hours in one spot is often a problem for some plants. Moving the container several times to track the direct sunlight is what homeowners have become accustomed to, but that is a time-consuming endeavor.

Graphics of types of indoor ferns showing Rabbit’s Foot Fern (Davallia fejeensis), Silver Lace Fern (Pteris ensiformis evergemiensis), Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus), Alpine Wood Fern (Dryopteris wallichiana), and Hay-Scented Fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula) leaf images.

With ferns that task is eliminated, no constant relocations necessary. Ferns are actually sun-dodgers, are so easy to care for, easy to prune to control their growth, and easy to appreciate for the wide variety of shapes, sizes, and textures they bring into a home.

Because they require little if any sunlight, their popularity is on the rise again even if they are still just left to their own devices to brighten up a forgotten corner of the room.

Rabbit's Foot Fern showing wide foliage and dense fronds

(Image: Chhe21)

  • Height: 1-2 feet
  • Width: 1-2 feet
  • USDA HZ: 10-11

16. Rabbit’s Foot Fern

(Davallia fejeensis)

A native of Fiji, the fronds grow upright at first before spreading out long and wide to show off the furriness of the rhizomes. This is an evergreen, perennial frond that is glossy and grows in tight clusters and can be adapted to grow in containers with the proper care and attention.

Similar to the Staghorn Fern, this variety doesn’t require soil for nutrients, but wherever it is planted the rhizomes that give the name to this fern have to be on display at all times.

For best results: Desires a humid atmosphere. Where that is absent, regular misting will keep this plant healthy.

17. Silver Lace Fern

(Pteris ensiformis evergemiensis)

Due to its beautiful white variegation, this plant is frequently referred to as the Silver Lace Fern and makes an excellent showpiece plant for shaded indoor spaces.

The tropical and subtropical climates it is accustomed to in its native region of Southeast Asia need to be replicated in a terrarium to keep this elegant fern in its evergreen state all year round.7

Top shot of Silver Lace Fern situated on the ground showing glossy leaflets on its fronds.

(Image: Kembangraps22)

  • Height: 1-2 feet
  • Width: 1-2 feet
  • USDA HZ: 8-10

For best results: Keep out of direct sunlight to avoid scorching even though it enjoys a humid environment. Dappled or indirect sunlight will suffice and plant in moist soil in a container that has draining holes as the soil cannot be allowed to dry out.

Top shot of Bird's Nest Fern showing long, light green fronds.

(Image: WikimediaImages19)

  • Height: 3-5 feet
  • Width: 2-3 feet
  • USDA HZ: 11-12

18. Bird’s Nest Fern

(Asplenium nidus)

Called the Bird’s Nest because of their unusual habit of growing in the nooks of trees in rainforests, these perennial ferns can be adapted to grow successfully as houseplants. The floppy evergreen fronds grow up to 2 feet long indoors, and up to 5 feet long outside.

For best results: A handy tip to growing these types of ferns indoors is to situate the container near a bathroom to benefit from the humidity, or perhaps use a humidifier.

19. Alpine Wood Fern

(Dryopteris wallichiana)

It can take up to 10 years for this fern just to grow to maturity, its semi-evergreen fronds slowly growing upright before branching out to form the shape of a shuttlecock head.

As an indoor plant, it has quite a dramatic appearance, and its rich green fronds add an element of warmth to a room.

Alpine Wood Ferns situated in a forest showing fronds growing upright.

(Image: Daderot28)

  • Height: 3-5 feet
  • Width: 3-5 feet
  • USDA HZ: 6-9

For best results: Place it in a corner of the room where there is no direct sunlight, where few other plants dare to tread, and it will thrive. Maintain moisture in the soil until it is firmly established, and then it will require the minimum of attention.

Closeup of Hay-Scented Fern showing yellowish-green and dense fronds.

(Image: G Johansen19)

  • Height: 1-2 feet
  • Width: 2-3 feet
  • USDA HZ: 3-8

20. Hay-Scented Fern

(Dennstaedtia punctilobula)

On closer inspection, the fronds look like snowdrops all attached on a single stalk,8 reducing in size until arriving at the tip.

Combined with the aroma of hay when the leaflets are crushed or brushed, they should be one of the must-have types of Fern houseplants to have either inside or outside, filling an empty space in a corner of the room or creating an interesting border in the garden.

For best results: Partial shade is acceptable but full shade is better and because of the pleasant aroma, these ferns make excellent houseplants, especially as the color changes from green to yellow in the fall.

Types of Maidenhair Ferns (Maidenhair Fern Outdoors)

Coveted for their delicate disposition, these types of ferns make excellent houseplants yet equally can grow in adverse locations outside just as long as there is adequate water availability.

Graphics of types of Maidenhair Ferns showing Northern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum), Delta Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum raddianum), Walking Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum caudatum), Rough Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum hispidulum), and Brittle Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum tenerum) leaf images.

Slow growing, they have small attractive fronds and are considered to be tougher than they look.

21. Northern Maidenhair Fern

(Adiantum pedatum)

The shiny stems running through the center of the fronds help to emphasize the way the pinnae fan out horizontally, an appealing feature that has increased its popularity.

Deciduous and perennial, the new fronds at the beginning of a new season have burgundy fiddleheads on their tips which are normally cut away to regrow new plants.

Top shot of Northern Maindenhair Fern showing pinnate leaflets on its fronds.

(Image: WikimediaImages19)

  • Height: 1-3 feet
  • Width: 1-2 feet
  • USDA HZ: 3-8

For best results: Partial or full shade is needed, with planting in well-draining soil. Water constantly throughout the growing phase every season.

Top shot of Delta Maindenhair Fern showing yellow-green and fan-shaped leaflets on its fronds.

(Image: Leon Brooks26)

  • Height: 1-2 feet
  • Width: 1-2 feet
  • USDA HZ: 10-11

22. Delta Maidenhair Fern

(Adiantum raddianum)

Native to South America, this is a fast-growing evergreen plant that has fan-shaped fronds delicately attached to a purple-black stalk. They form a pleasing canopy and the light green coloring will darken over time.

For best results: A high-humidity climate is required with a consistent moisture supply and protection from too much direct sunlight is recommended as the fronds will get scorched.

23. Walking Maidenhair Fern

(Adiantum caudatum)

The name alone of this evergreen fern is intriguing.

Native to China, the feathery fronds have a habit of trailing along the ground and taking root, seemingly going for a stroll when that happens over and over again. This is an invaluable trait when grown as ground cover in the garden.9

Top shot of Walking Maindenhair Fern showing long fronds with pinnate leaflets.

Krzysztof Ziarnek(Image: Krzysztof Ziarnek27)

  • Height: 3-6 feet
  • Width: 2-3 feet
  • USDA HZ: 7-10

For best results: Create a humid climate for these tropical rainforest plants by misting or placing them near bathrooms. Another tip is to place a pebble-filled saucer with water under the pot so the evaporated water will mimic the atmosphere that the plants need.

Top shot of Rough Maindenhair Fern situated on the ground with mulch showing dark green leaflets and short fronds.

(Image: Daderot28)

  • Height: 1-2 feet
  • Width: 2-3 feet
  • USDA HZ: 8-11

24. Rough Maidenhair Fern

(Adiantum hispidulum)

The leaflets on this medium size fern are often a mix of dark red to dark green hues, with slight color variations mixed between them. It is a fascinating specimen and orderly arranged on the underside of the evergreen fronds are up to 20 sori.

Appearing as if they are a tattoo inked into the skin, this feature has become part of the lore of the Fern.

For best results: Full shade and well-draining soil are required. In drier instances, mulch around the base to retain moisture for longer periods.

25. Brittle Maidenhair Fern

(Adiantum tenerum)

The black stems contrast nicely against the bright green fronds that are evergreen and are on display all year round. They expand outwards in the delicate shape of a fan, appearing light and breezy.

This is a beautiful ornamental plant around the home that is not loud and brash, but impressively understated and captivating.

Top shot of a potted Brittle Maidenhair Fern showing fronds with fan-like leaves growing on its fronds.

(Image: Kembangraps29)

  • Height: 1-2 feet
  • Width: 2-3 feet
  • USDA HZ: 3-9

For best results: Filtered sun or partial shade is the friend of this plant that is native to tropical forests in South America, and due to its heritage, it requires humid conditions and is best planted alongside ponds where the soil is rich and constantly moist.

Fern Plants: Hardy Ferns

USDA hardiness zones 2 and 3 are cold in the winter months, very cold, and knowing how to care for ferns in all climates will help in caring for them, and it will just take a bit of practice to be an expert.

Temperatures can plummet in these zones to as low as -40 to -50 °F and it would be normal to presume that states such as Alaska and Minnesota would be unsuitable for growing hardy ferns in any outdoor setting there.10

But it is possible.

These specific types of ferns detailed below are able to withstand these freezing conditions without their sap freezing and turning them into Fern popsicles.

Graphics of types of Hardy Ferns showing Ebony Spleenwort (Asplenium platyneuron), Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas), Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytoniana L.), and Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) leaf images.

Here are some examples of ferns that are able to survive under equally interesting and unforgiving landscapes.

Closeup of Ebony Spleenwort Fern showing fronds with serrated edge and pinnate leaflets.

(Image: Choess31)

  • Height: 1-2 feet
  • Width: 1-2 feet
  • USDA HZ: 3-8

26. Ebony Spleenwort

(Asplenium platyneuron)

This is a splendid fern to have in challenging climates as the dark green evergreen leaves remain in place during winter. It has a dark stalk with many sori attached to the undersides of each individual pinnae, ready to release the spores in summer before hunkering down for the cold nights ahead.

For best results: Very adaptable to growing in moist or slightly dry soils alongside rock gardens, but avoid overwatering and plant in full shade.

27. Male Fern

(Dryopteris filix-mas)

Sporting the classic feather-like fronds, the long wispy fronds turn a coppery brown before falling off in winter.

Robust, adaptable, and extremely hardy, this is one of the best Ferns to plant in difficult garden locations as they require next to no attention to thrive and survive, no matter how cold it gets.

Closeup of Male Fern showing a frond with green leaflets.

(Image: Carola6819)

  • Height: 2-4 feet
  • Width: 2-4 feet
  • USDA HZ: 4-8

For best results: Be sure to maintain moist soil, and keep it in the shade. It can be placed as a border plant, beneath overhanging trees and every year it will keep reappearing to repeat the cycle without fail.

Angled-shot of Christmas Fern situated on the ground showing long fronds with dark green leaflets.

(Image: Mx. Granger33)

  • Height: 1-2 feet
  • Width: 1-2 feet
  • USDA HZ: 3-9

28. Christmas Fern

(Polystichum acrostichoides)

Because of its resistance to early-season snow, this evergreen fern, which is native to eastern North America, earned its name and a reputation for being hardy.

It has a dark green, leathery foliage that forms a luxurious, fountain-like crown that enhances its appearance even though it is not very tall.

Floral arrangements for Christmas can incorporate these cut fronds.

For best results: As it grows in tight clusters, plant it as ground cover or on a border where this evergreen, perennial frond can have full shade and soil that is moist.

29. Interrupted Fern

(Osmunda claytoniana L.)

The pale green fronds, deciduous, actually fall off in mid-summer, as if this hardy plant is bolstering itself early for the cold months ahead. It is a showy plant for the few months that it is on display, and it is one of the first ferns to emerge anew in spring after surviving freezing cold environments.

For best results: A definite shade lover, these ferns also thrive in wet soil conditions.

Angled-shot of Interrupted Fern showing thin stems with fronds growing pinnate leaflets.

(Image: Ushakaron34)

  • Height: 2-3 feet
  • Width: 2-3 feet
  • USDA HZ: 3-8
Closeup of Cinnamon Fern showing fronds with cinnamon-color leaflets with a small hill in the background.

(Image: Michael Kauer19)

  • Height: 2-3 feet
  • Width: 2-3 feet
  • USDA HZ: 3-9

30. Cinnamon Fern

(Osmundastrum cinnamomeum)

A hardy perennial, it has cinnamon-colored fibers growing upwards from the base that adds a little something extra to its appearance,11 and account for its name. It is a deciduous fern with sterile fronds that actually emerge from the base of the plant, unfurling into very attractive 2-4 foot pinnately-compound fronds.

As the fall approaches, the yellowish-green color loses the green tint and becomes more yellow to match the season.

For best results: For this Fern, boggy is best. It grows robustly in areas along streams where there is a lot of shade and the ground is wet.

If the soil becomes too dry it will go dormant otherwise, it is a good addition to less-than-ideal growing conditions.

Growing Ferns From a Cutting and How To Make Ferns Grow Big

Before deciding which fern to choose, first, consider the growing zones for ferns. Where to grow is just as important as when to plant ferns for the best yield.

Once those have been decided, and even the fern names are chosen, cut the rhizome, not the stalk, so that a frond is still attached and insert it into a container with Sphagnum Moss.

Moisture with a spray of water and cover with a plastic bottle to create a humid atmosphere. How long it takes to grow ferns will depend on the species but to reach full maturity can take from 5 to 10 years.

As the fern grows, repot it into a larger container with new potting soil and fertilize it about every 3 months and provide enough water. This is the method to ensure how to make ferns grow big and stay healthy.

What Is a Hurricane Fern and How To Care for It?

Native to East Asia, this fern has large fronds and needs looking after. Hurricane Fern care starts with keeping the soil very moist and the ambient temperature high to replicate humidity.

Keep away from AC to avoid drying it out and the leaves from browning.

Common Pests of the Ferns and Natural Pest Control for Ferns

Nematodes are tiny worms hidden in the soil that sneakily infest the roots, causing the fronds to yellow or become deformed. To get rid of them you will need to know how to transplant ferns from one pot or location to another without causing any damage.

All the old soil has to be removed carefully from around the roots to prevent any reinfection as they can be very invasive in gardens and landscapes and difficult to completely eliminate.12

Fern mites, aphids, and mealybugs target the sap in the fronds voraciously and can cause irreparable damage.

Regular spraying with organic pesticides or soapy water with horticultural oil will help to keep them at bay and send them packing.

All Types of Fern Facts

Like most plants and flowers and trees, there is a degree of mysticism or symbolism attached to Ferns.

Fern symbolism revolves around healing, magic, romance, and sincerity. But let’s see what other facts are associated with these fascinating plants.

  • Species of ferns have been around on Earth for nearly 400 million years.
  • Ferns are some of the most varied plant species, from very small shrubs to towering giants in all shapes and sizes.
  • There are houseplant identification apps available that will help to identify different types of Ferns. They provide the scientific names for ferns and how to care for them.
  • Parts of the Maidenhair Fern are used to alleviate asthma, ease coughs, and even treat snakebites.
  • Dixonia antarctica is a fern that grows in Australia and Tasmania to heights of 50 feet.
  • Australia has entire forests that grow only fern plants.

The diversity of ferns extends to their longevity, with perennials lasting for years, their deciduous or evergreen natures that dictate how long their fronds survive.

Growing in a variety of settings, such as marshes, dry rock crevices, and woodlands, demonstrates that they can be hardy to withstand all weathers while appearing delicate at the same time.

Knowing which types of ferns will grow best for you just takes a little time and practice to ensure that these lovely and lush plants make any space more soothing and restful.

Frequently Asked Questions About Types of Ferns

How Much Sunlight Do Ferns Need Each Day?

Most types of ferns only need indirect sunlight, but for those that require more direct attention, about 4 hours a day is sufficient.

Are Ferns Evergreen?

The Fern Plant has both deciduous and evergreen varieties.

Do Ferns Need a Lot of Water?

Most watering needs for Fern Plants will require a degree of watering every 4-5 days.

What Is the Distance To Consider on How Far Apart To Plant Ferns? What Are Some Planting Tips for Ferns?

If planting several ferns remember to plant them at least 2 feet apart.

What Are the Steps on How To Stop Ferns Disease? What Is the Best Way To Fern Disease Prevention?

Be careful not to overwater and prune the fern in such a way as to allow air to circulate properly. Also, regular inspections for pests and infections will help enormously.

What Are the Best Companion Plants for Growing Ferns?

Plants such as Hostas, Azaleas, Hellebores, Bluebells, Geraniums, and Sumac Tree grow well in shaded areas in gardens so are excellent companion plants for ferns.13

How Many Types of Ferns and Trees Are There in America?

There are approximately 380 different kinds of ferns in the United States and 865 different species of trees.

Read More About Types of Ferns


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2Reed, N. (2017, December 3). Honey Locust. Bates. Retrieved May 13, 2023, from <https://www.bates.edu/canopy/species/honey-locust/>

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9N.C. Cooperative Extension. (2023). Dennstaedtia punctilobula. North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. Retrieved May 13, 2023, from <https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/dennstaedtia-punctilobula/>

10Slater, R. (2003, November 28). Hardy Ferns. Home & Garden Information Center. Retrieved May 13, 2023, from <https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/hardy-ferns>

11N.C. Cooperative Extension. (2023). Osmundastrum cinnamomeum. North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. Retrieved May 13, 2023, from <https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/osmundastrum-cinnamomeum/>

12Warner, F., & Tenney, A. (2023). Nematodes in Home Gardens and Landscapes. Michigan State University | Plant & Pest Diagnostics. Retrieved May 13, 2023, from <https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/nematodes-in-home-gardens-and-landscapes>

13Hoidal, N. (2021). Companion planting in home gardens. University of Minnesota Extension. Retrieved May 13, 2023, from <https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/companion-planting-home-gardens>

14Mahr, S. (2023). Staghorn Fern, Platycerium bifurcatum. Wisconsin Horticulture. Retrieved May 13, 2023, from <https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/articles/staghorn-fern-platycerium-bifurcatum/>

15Royal fern closeup Photo by Jim Kingdon Kingdon / Public Domain. Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Royal_fern_closeup.jpg >

16Li Xiaohan. Unsplash. Retrieved from <https://unsplash.com/photos/Tha0N2zfrT8>

17Cheilanthes lanosa 2 Photo by Ghislain Chenais (ghislain118) / Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0). Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cheilanthes_lanosa_2_(FM).JPG>

18Polystichum munitum Photo by Zythème / CC0 1.0 DEED | CC0 1.0 Universal. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Polystichum_munitum.jpg>

19Hart’s-Tongue Fern by Walter Frehner, Lady Fern by Micah Olson, Bird’s Nest Fern by WikimediaImages, Hay-Scented Fern by G Johansen, Northern Maidenhair Fern by WikimediaImages, Male Fern by Carola68 and Cinnamon Fern by Michael Kauer. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/>

20Karelj. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paro%C5%BEnatka_1.jpg>

21Chhe. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DavalliaFejeensis.jpg>

22Kembangraps. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pteris_ensiformis_Pj_IMG_3173.jpg>

23Cyrtomium falcatum Photo by Hardyplants / CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication. Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cyrtomium_falcatum_%27Rochfordianum%27_habit.jpg>

24Ostrich fern Photo by W.carter / CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication. Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ostrich_fern_at_Myrstigen_trail_1.jpg>

25Sensitivefern Photo by hardyplants / Public Domain. Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sensitivefern.jpg>

26delicate, leafy, background Photo by Leon Brooks / Free to use CC0. PIXNIO. Retrieved from <https://pixnio.com/nature-landscapes/leaf-leaves/delicate-leafy-background>

27Adiantum caudatum kz01 Photo by Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz / Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0). Resized. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Adiantum_caudatum_kz01.jpg>

28Australian Tree Fern, Tassel Fern, Alpine Wood Fern, and Rough Maidenhair Fern images by Daderot <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page>

29Kembangraps. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Adiantum_tenerum_Bessonia_20200208.jpg>

30Sunset fern leaves Photo by Renee Whelan / Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0). Resized. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sunset_fern_leaves.jpg>

31Asplenium platyneuron 3 Photo by Choess / Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0). Resized. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asplenium_platyneuron_3.JPG>

32Azollafiliculoides Photo by Stickpen / Public Domain. Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Azollafiliculoides.jpg>

33Mx. Granger. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Polystichum_acrostichoides_at_Coker_Arboretum.jpg>

34Ushakaron. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:O._claytoniana.jpg>

35Species Information Image: Green leafed tree Photo by Robert Nelson. (2017, September 8) / Unsplash License. Cropped and remixed with text, shape, and background elemets. Unsplash. Retrieved January 19, 2024, from <https://unsplash.com/photos/green-leafed-tree-9H3WouBtk0U>

36Hairy Lip Fern (Myriopteris lanosa) Photo by Shaun Pogacnik (shaunpogacnik95) / Public Domain. Cropped, Resized, Changed Format. iNaturalist. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from <https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/157055770>

37Sunset Fern (Dryopteris lepidopoda) Photo by Cheng Te Hsu (chengte) / CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED | Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International. Cropped, Resized, Changed Format. iNaturalist. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from <https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/46445800>