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Autumn Fern and Holly Fern are Both Great Evergreen Ferns for the Woodland Garden

Dryopteris (Male Fern) is also known as the Autumn fern. These evergreen ferns are easily grown in average, slightly acidic, medium to wet soils in part shade to full shade. A woodland garden setting is best. The autumn fern prefers a consistently moist soil (never allowing to dry out) that is rich in organic matter. Dryopteris should be sheltered from strong winds to protect the fronds. Plants spread slowly over time by short creeping rhizomes.


Dryopteris koidzumiana (Koidzumi's Autumn Fern) is native to Japan and prefers a warmer climate. The foliage emerges brilliant russet red and, when mature, gets 2' and 2' wide. Dryopteris erythrosora var. prolifica (Prolific Lacy Autumn Fern) is another evergreen autumn fern that is easy to grow and has a unique lacy leaf form that emerges cinnamon red. This fern is native to woodland hillsides and mountain slopes in Japan, China and Taiwan.

For that shady spot, you can't go wrong with holly ferns. Their evergreen fronds always look good and they mix well with other shade plants in the woodland garden. They can be planted close together and used as a ground cover or planted as accent plants where the soil is rich and well drained. They can also be potted in planters on a shady patio. Holly ferns are named for the pointy tips on their leathery leaves.

Cyrtomium fortenei var. intermedia 'Green Tea' (Green Tea Fortune's Holly Fern) makes a very tight, upright-growing, 20” clump thick, glossy, dark green fronds. Cyrtomium falcatum 'Butterfieldii' (Butterfield's Holly Fern) is easily recognized by its deeply-toothed leaf margins...a unique appearance.

Whether you are looking for autumn ferns or holly fern you can find both of these deer resistant ferns at Plant Delights Nursery. If you are planning your woodland garden shopping list, these ferns should be on it. Give us a call or shop online. If you're in the area, we would love for you to visit us during one of our Open Nursery and Garden weekends.