Japanese tassel fern combines well with asarums and Blue hostas like Hosta “Halcyon.” (Richie Steffen)

Japanese tassel fern combines well with asarums and Blue hostas like Hosta “Halcyon.” (Richie Steffen)

Great Plant Pick: Polystichum polyblepharum, Japanese tassel fern

Japanese tassel fern combines well with asarums and Blue hostas like Hosta “Halcyon.”

What: This evergreen fern from Japan and southern Korea does very well in the Pacific Northwest. Polystichum polyblepharum has finely divided but overlapping pinnae, the primary sub-division of a fern frond, so the semi-evergreen fronds appear lush and full and grow from a central rosette. The stems are covered with a light dusting of copper-colored hairs that contrast with the dark green of the pinnea. The fronds are lustrous and add a sparkle to the woodland floor. As the fronds unfurl, they flip backward appearing like a tassel, hence the common name Japanese tassel fern. As they mature, they right themselves to the more normal frond appearance. It would combine well with asarums and Blue hostas like Hosta “Halcyon.”

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

Size: Japanese tassel 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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