Holly Fern for Year Round Green

This holly fern has been growing here for a number of years

This holly fern has been growing here for a number of years.

A close up of a holly fern frond

A close-up of a holly fern frond

Here is a fern that likes part shade and is a dependable evergreen. I really like this fern. In most years, once it is established it will only need grooming by removing the dead or damaged leaves. If the winter is very hard it will come back from its crown, if it is a victim of freeze damage. I think the key to having really beautiful ones is placement in the garden. They do best if grown in high filtered shade in a well drained location. Good fertile soil really makes the plants grow robustly. I generally fertilize lightly, when the new fronds are actively growing out of the crown. As a single plant, they are great and can be a low accent. In mass they really make a striking ground cover that generally doesn’t exceed two feet in height. The course texture of the fronds makes them a “look at me plant,” even though their green leaves are their only outstanding characteristic.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

4 thoughts on “Holly Fern for Year Round Green

  1. I’m in South Carolina and only recently realized the value of holly ferns. The structure is appealing to the eye and is so easy to grow in our brutally hot/humid summers. I’m planning on adding more holly ferns. They impress me!

  2. So many people shy away from a plant when the name “fern” is mentioned; thinking because it is a fern it must be difficult. You are so right to recommend this almost fail proof fern for the garden. My only complaint is because it is so robust it takes up a lot of room in the garden, forming huge clumps that require regular dividing. Not to mention the fact that it spores heavily and relocates itself in amazing places; walkways, walls, in the middle of hosta beds, etc. While I am always tempted to remove cold damaged fronds before new fiddle heads begin to emerge in the Spring, I have learned the hard way that patience really is a virtue.
    FYI holly ferns are great houseplants.

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