Richie Steffen
                                This holly fern, with its olive-green fronds, gives the garden a more refined, sophisticated look.

Richie Steffen This holly fern, with its olive-green fronds, gives the garden a more refined, sophisticated look.

Great Plant Pick: Polystichum makinoi, Makinoi’s holly fern

This holly fern, with its olive-green fronds, gives the garden a more refined, sophisticated look.

What: The lustrous, olive-green fronds of Polystichum makinoi make it a unique and interesting addition to the shade garden. This perennial fern forms a slightly arching mound to about 24 inches tall. It creates a more refined, sophisticated look in the garden than some other ferns. Upon closer inspection, each small leaflet is marked with a subtly contrasting, purple-brown midrib, giving a slightly smoky look to the plant. The frond stem (rachis) is covered with brownish tan scales adding a soft, slightly furry look. Plant a ribbon of these ferns to define a formal edge in shady areas. Set Makinoi’s holly fern against plants with dark green foliage, and its olive tones will shine. These same tones are a great companion to plants with variegated foliage, especially creams and gold.

Where: Makinoi’s holly fern grows best in rich moist to well-drained soil, but will tolerate sand or clay.

Size: This fern grows to be 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide when mature.

Care: Provide regular watering during dry weather to keep the fronds from drying out. This fern grows well in light to deep shade. Though it is evergreen, the fronds should be cut down in late February or March, before the new fronds emerge.

— Richie Steffen, Great Plant Picks

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