Matteuccia struthiopteris 'The King'

The King Ostrich Fern

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Item #: 8692

Zones: 3a to 8b

Dormancy: Winter

Height: 36" tall

Culture: Sun to Light Shade

Origin: United States

Pot Size: 3.5" pot (24 fl. oz/0.7 L)

Regular price $22.00
Regular price Sale price $22.00
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(aka: Matteuccia 'Fanfare') Matteuccia 'The King' is an amazing selection of ostrich fern, distributed by the late Larry Mellichamp, who got it from NC's Powell's Garden around 1985. Matteuccia 'The King' is one of the few forms we've found that thrives in the hot, humid southeastern US, where normal ostrich ferns fear to tread. The 3' tall deciduous rosettes (6' tall under ideal conditions) spread vigorously via underground rhizomes. In nature, the deer-resistant ostrich ferns are found in moist ditches and lowlands, but also adapt well to drier garden conditions where they grow a bit shorter. Patches of Matteuccia struthiopteris 'The King' are highlighted by the 18" brown fertile fronds that appear in fall and persist through the winter when they can be spray painted with some cool psychedelic colors to freak out your garden visitors.


Ostrich fern is a low maintenance perennial when grown under the proper conditions. In fall, the sterile fronds will die back, leaving the rigidly upright fertile fronds. We like to remove the old sterile fronds, creating a more visually appealing patch for the winter months.

Since it is a vigorous spreader, it should not be planted near other smaller, more defenseless plants, which will be quickly overrun.

Growing Conditions:

Ostrich fern naturally grows in very damp soils including standing water. Despite this, it will actually thrive also in soils that have average moisture and even seasonal droughts.

In the wild, ostrich fern can be found growing in both sun and shade. It has good sun tolerance as long as the soil moisture is adequate. Typical ostrich fern will not survive the heat of the Southeast US, but the clone Matteucia 'The King' will thrive despite the intense summer heat.

Garden Value:

Because ostrich fern is a vigorous spreader, it can be used to fill a large space with an airy, relaxing texture. It can also be interplanted with other later emerging plants like native lilies or amorphophallus for some fascinating textural combinations.