Types of Ferns Fern Varieties

Various types of ferns. Fabulous indoor ferns. Ferns to use for easy landscaping and which fern to keep out of your garden. Rare and wild fern varieties and species.

Picture of Fern Plants

Wild types of ferns growing at the edge of our woods.Wild ferns growing with scarlet sage at the edge of our back woods.

Ferns are the most versatile plants on the planet.

They display an unprecedented range of leaf shapes from the wide, flat leaves of Asplenium nidus to the foxtail plumes of Asparagus meyeri.

They can range in size from just a few inches tall to more than 12 feet in the case of the tree ferns.

Some types of ferns are tropical. Others quite hardy.

Their versatility aside, ferns are valuable in the home and garden because they prefer shade.

In the landscape, ferns bring fresh green life to those hard-to-design dim corners.

Indoors, their leaves create a dramatic backdrop for cut flowers and are useful as in inexpensive filler in floral arrangements. Potted ferns can be grouped around blooming plants to hide bare stems or foliage that has seen better days.

However you plan to put them to work, there is a fern variety for every possible situation.

This page is meant to provide an overview of many different types of ferns. For more growing tips, click the highlighted name of the fern you fancy.

Indoor Ferns

Holly Fern

The 3-5 inch leaflets which line the fronds of Cyrtomium falcatum are dark green, glossy and shaped like holly leaves without the spines.

The holly shrub fern loves cool temperatures (under 75 degrees F.), moderately high humidity (30%) and moisture. It is hardy in zones 7-10.

It is also commonly called the leather leaf holly.

Boston Ferns

The Boston fern is both a wild fern and an indoor fern (at least for some people). I can’t ever seem to get them to grow well in my house but they grow wild in my zone 9a back yard.

Boston ferns are members of the sword fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) family.

Maidenhair Fern

Buy a Maidenhair Fern

There are about 200 members of the Adiantum species. Some hail from the tropics and others are quite cold hardy. If you don’t know which type you have, protect it from frost to be safe.

Adiantum pedatum is the winter hardy American maidenhair fern. Adiantum capillus-veneris is called the southern maidenhair fern because it is the more tender variety.

Staghorn Fern

Staghorn ferns hung on wooden stands in a Daytona Beach yard.Staghorn ferns hang on wooden stands in a Daytona Beach yard.The grass-like foliage beside the ferns is that of the pony tail palm tree.

Platycerium bifercatum, the staghorn fern is an epiphyte from the forests of Africa, Australia, and Tropical Asia.

It grows on a tree by attaching its roots to the bark. It doesn’t grow into the bark or receive nourishment from the tree. It just uses the bark for support.

It can also be grown in a pot or basket of coarse, fast-draining soil.

Fabulous Ferns for the Landscape

Bird Nest fern growing in an urn.This bird nest fern is growing in a pedestal urn.Most cultivars of this type of fern will not remain small forever but can be kept in a small container for a few years.Asplenium nidus is a tropical fern from South East Asia. It is also commonly planted in India, Japan and Australia.It can grow on trees, rocks or in soil.

Ostrich Fern

Buy an Ostrich Fern Plant

Matteuccua struthiopteris is one of the tallest and most regal ferns in cultivation. The fronds which can grow to 60 inches in length are a striking accent at the back of any shady garden bed.

The deciduous plumes grow from an underground rhizome in an attractive vase shape.

Japanese Painted Fern

Buy a Japanese Painted Fern

Athyrium niponicum var pictum, is a close relative of the lady fern, is grown for its silvery or sometimes purplish foliage. The fronds grow to a length of 12-18 inches and taper at the tips. They are darker down the center with lighter edges.

They are hardy outdoors down to -30 degrees F.

Australian Tree Fern

Tree ferns in planters staged with double-flowered pink oleander at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania.

Cyathea cooperi, the Australian tree fern, is a tender perennial from the tropical and subtropical region.

The tree ferns are found abundantly in the temperate rain forests of Australia and New Zealand. These fabulous ferns can add height and Jurassic drama to a woodland landscape design.

Asparagus Ferns

red banana sharing a pot with Asparagus sprengeri and vinca.Most Asparagus fern varieties need to grow outdoors as they require strong light. Also, they have needle-like leaves which can make them unpleasant to brush up against.But planting them in the ground may not be the solution.These types of ferns can become invasive and once they do, they are nearly impossible to eradicate.As you can see here, they make lovely container gardening plants.

Cinnamon Fern

Cinnamon ferns grow wild along stream banks from Ontario to Oaxaca.

The fronds of Osmunda cinnamomea can stretch to 5 feet.

But they do not have to.

If you want tall plants, site them in shade and keep their soil constantly damp. For more compact clumps, grow them in brighter light and drier soil.

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