Blechnum spicant, commonly called deer fern. (Richie Steffen)

Blechnum spicant, commonly called deer fern. (Richie Steffen)

Great Plant Pick: Deer fern

This native fern is an excellent choice for the woodland garden. And despite (or maybe because of?) its name, it’s resistant to deer.

  • Friday, December 9, 2022 1:30am
  • Life

What: Blechnum spicant, commonly known as deer fern, is a charming native fern that is one of the best textural plants for the woodland garden. Fertile and sterile fronds (those that produce spores and those that do not) are different in shape, which creates a distinctive foliage texture and tonal contrast on the same plant. The sterile fronds form a tidy arching mound of clean looking delicately cut foliage. The fertile fronds rise straight up above this mound giving a thin wispy, almost skeletal appearance. Both fronds will remain good looking from spring to late winter.

Where: Deer fern is adaptable and grows well in light to deep shade. It likes rich moist soils or well drained locations with summer watering, and will also tolerate sandy and clay soils. It’s resistant to deer.

Size: Grows to 2 feet by 2 feet in 10 years.

Care: Old fronds should be cut back in late winter or early spring before new growth starts.


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