The 30 Best Ferns to Place Under the Sun

Best Ferns to Place Under the Sun

Fern plants give a touch of elegance and texture that can elevate your garden’s overall aesthetic. Although most ferns grow in shady woodlands, some species thrive in full sun and are perfect for home gardening. 

So, read on to learn about each fern and how to use them in your garden!

1. Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum)

Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum)
Image: Verde Environment 
Scientific NamePteridium aquilinum
Common NameBracken Fern
FamilyDennstaedtiaceae
LightFull sun to partial shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height2-6 feet
Growth RateFast
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental, medicinal

The bracken fern is a large, coarse plant indigenous to temperate and subtropical regions. They have showy triangular leaves that can grow up to 4 feet tall. 

This fern usually grows in disturbed areas like overgrazed pastures, burned areas or clearcuts. Because of their easy adaptation to various growing conditions, they’re among the most widely distributed fern species worldwide. 

The bracken fern fronds come in two to four pairs, each attached to a rachis stalk. This plant also has deep underground rhizomes that allow it to spread dense colonies on the ground. 

This fern is also used as a diuretic, astringent and even as a purgative natural remedy to treat skin conditions, dysentery and diarrhea. Others use it to make brooms, woven goods or even as a fuel and fertilizer. 

The bracken fern makes an excellent ground cover plant because of its aggressive growing habit. You can also use them in your garden as a specimen or ornamental plant. 

2. Maidenhair Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes)

 Maidenhair Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes)
Image: Little Prince
Scientific NameAsplenium trichomanes
Common NameMaidenhair Spleenwort
Black maidenhair fern 
Common maidenhair fern
FamilyAspleniaceae
LightPartial shade to full shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height6-12 inches
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental, medicinal

The maidenhair spleenwort is a small fern that thrives in temperate and subtropical regions. It’s a great indoor fern because of its delicate bipinnate fronds and ability to tolerate low-light conditions. 

This plant also has small, tufted rhizomes, which allow the plant to spread and form colonies on the ground. They commonly grow in moist, shady cliffs, woodlands, rocks and ruins. 

The maidenhair is a popular ornamental plant, indoors or outdoors, since they are elegant for any garden or home. They can also be used to treat skin conditions, dysentery and diarrhea.

3. Japanese Climbing Fern (Lygodium japonicum)

Japanese Climbing Fern (Lygodium japonicum)
Image: True South
Scientific NameLygodium japonicum
Common NameJapanese Climbing Fern
FamilyLygodiaceae
LightFull sun to partial shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height10-20 feet
Growth RateFast
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental, medicinal

The Japanese climbing fern is a vigorous plant indigenous to Asia. This aggressive fern can grow to 90 feet long and climb on other trees. 

Its feathery fern fronds are bipinnate with leaflets divided into two. They also have underground rhizomes, which makes it easy for them to spread on the ground and form dense colonies. 

We recommend using the Japanese climbing fern as a ground cover, living screen or border. You can also train it to climb a trellis, fence, arbor or other support structure to add height and interest to your garden.

5. Moa (Blechnum fluviatile)

Moa (Blechnum fluviatile)
Image: Hawaii Horticulture
Scientific NameBlechnum fluviatile
Common NameMoaSwamp fern
River fern
Water fern
FamilyBlechnaceae
LightPartial shade to full shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height3-6 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental, medicinal

The moa fern is a large evergreen plant indigenous to New Zealand. It grows large dark green fronds between 10 to 15 feet long. 

This plant has bipinnate leaves attached to the stipe at the base of the plant. They also grow rhizomes, which allow them to spread on the ground and form dense colonies. 

The moa fern is a great landscaping plant as it can add a naturalized look to a garden or height, depth and texture when placed behind shorter plants. It can be a groundcover, border plant or a natural canopy in your backyard.

6. Meadow Fern (Thelypteris palustris)

Meadow Fern (Thelypteris palustris)
Image: Fine Art America
Scientific NameThelypteris palustris
Common NameMeadow Fern
FamilyThelypteridaceae
LightFull sun to partial shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height1-3 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental, medicinal

The meadow fern is a deciduous fern that thrives in the wetlands, marshes, and, of course, meadows of the temperate and subtropical regions of the world. It’s a relatively small fern growing only up to 2 feet tall but produces delicate fronds with tiny leaflets.

The meadow fern fronds have a lanceolate shape where 10 to 40 leaflets are cut into smaller pieces. They’re attached to a slender stipe that can grow up to 12 inches tall.

This fern is a great low-maintenance plant to add to your garden and can even be a food source for butterflies, birds and bees. You can use them as a groundcover, border plant, water feature companion, or to create a naturalized area in your garden.

7. Button Fern (Pellaea rotundifolia)

Button Fern (Pellaea rotundifolia)
Image: Plant Lust
Scientific NamePellaea rotundifolia
Common NameButton FernPellaea
FamilyPteridaceae
LightPartial shade to full shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height6-12 inches
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental, medicinal

The button fern is a tiny evergreen plant native to New Zealand. It’s an excellent ornamental indoor plant because of its round leaflets, like buttons along its fronds.

It’s a slow-growing fern that can reach up to 12 inches tall. On the other hand, its fronds are attached to the long, slender stipe, and its rhizomes help it spread on the ground and form colonies. 

We recommend using the button fern indoors because they’re low-maintenance and can tolerate low-light environments. They will also give a refreshing and eye-catching look in whatever corner you place in your home.

8. Northern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)

Northern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)
Image: Maryland Biodiversity
Scientific NameAdiantum pedatum
Common NameNorthern Maidenhair Fern
FamilyAdiantaceae
LightPartial shade to full shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height1-3 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental, medicinal

The northern maidenhair fern is a deciduous plant indigenous to the forests of eastern North America. They’re famous for their fan-shaped fronds with small leaflets arranged in a circular pattern around the plant’s main stem. 

This fern can grow up to two feet tall. They thrive in moist, well-drained soil and have been used as a traditional medicine to treat asthma, cough or kidney problems. 

The northern maidenhair fern is a versatile plant that you can use to style your garden landscaping. It can be a ground cover, border, privacy screen or a container plant in your home.

9. Silver Elkhorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum)

Silver Elkhorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum)
Image: Urban Perennials
Scientific NamePlatycerium bifurcatum
Common NameSilver Elkhorn Fern
FamilyPolypodiaceae
LightPartial shade to full shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height2-3 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental, medicinal

The silver elkhorn fern is an epiphytic plant indigenous to the tropical rainforests of Australia and Southeast Asia. 

It’s known for its antler-shaped fronds that are arranged in a rosette pattern around the base of the plant and can grow up to 4 feet long. This plant has also been used as a natural remedy for skin infections, wounds and even fever. 

It’s a low-maintenance fern that prefers bright light and humid conditions. If you want to grow them indoors, place them near a window, but if outdoors, plant them under a tree or a canopy.  

10. Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis

Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis) 
Image: Little Prince
Scientific NameOnoclea sensibilis
Common NameSensitive Fern
FamilyOnocleaceae
LightPartial shade to full shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height2-3 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental, medicinal

The sensitive fern is a large deciduous plant indigenous to North America’s swamps, streams, rivers and moist wood areas. It’s named after its sensitivity to frost, which causes its fronds to turn black and die.  

The sensitive fern has sterile and fertile fronds. The sterile fronds are large, triangular and bright green, while the fertile fronds are small, erect and brown, producing spores during summer.

This plant makes an excellent groundcover, border, privacy screen or container plant in gardens and landscapes. Their young fiddleheads are also edible and rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron.

11. Water Fern (Ceratopteris thalictroides)

Water Fern (Ceratopteris thalictroides)
Image: Little Prince
Scientific NameCeratopteris thalictroides
Common NameWater Fern
FamilyPteridaceae
LightFull sun to partial shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height1-3 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental plant, water purification

The water fern is a fast-growing aquatic plant indigenous to tropical and subtropical areas worldwide. It’s popularly used in aquariums, water gardens and ponds. 

Water fern is famous for removing toxins in the water and helping provide oxygen to aquatic animals. They have small, feathery submerged fronds and large heart-shaped floating fronds. 

Adding a water fern in your water garden because it helps improve water quality and provides enough oxygen for fish in your ponds. Its leaves are also an edible vegetable rich in vitamins A and C and iron and calcium. 

12. Rockcap Fern (Polypodium polypodioides)

 Rockcap Fern (Polypodium polypodioides)
Image: Carolina Nature
Scientific NamePolypodium polypodioides
Common NameRockcap Fern
FamilyPolypodiaceae
LightPartial shade to full shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height6-12 inches
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental, ground cover

The rock cap fern is a tiny evergreen plant indigenous to Asia, Europe and North America. Its leathery fronds can grow in harsh conditions and rocky areas such as boulders, ledges or cliffs. 

The rock cap fern fronds are lanceolate and can reach up to 8 inches long. They’re divided into many small, oblong leaflets and are attached to the short and stout stipe at the base of the plant. 

We recommend adding the rockcap fern in rock gardens, terrariums, vivariums and other areas with poor soil conditions. This hardy fern will add a touch of elegance to your garden and is sure to thrive in even the harshest conditions.

13. Fishbone Fern (Nephrolepis acutifolia)

Fishbone Fern (Nephrolepis acutifolia)
Image: Pixels
Scientific NameNephrolepis acutifolia
Common NameFishbone Fern
FamilyLomariopsidaceae
LightFull sun to partial shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height1-3 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental

The fishbone fern is a famous houseplant from tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. It has unique arching fronds divided into overlapping leaflets and tolerates low-light conditions.

Its fern fronds are lanceolate-shaped and can reach up to 2 feet long. It also has slender stipes that can grow up to 18 inches tall. 

The fishbone fern is an excellent addition to indoor gardens and terrariums, adding a touch of elegance to any area. It can also be used as a ground cover in shady areas since it thrives in warm climates and requires little care and maintenance. 

14. Giant Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum)

Giant Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum)
Image: Etsy
Scientific NamePolystichum munitum
Common NameGiant Sword Fern
FamilyDryopteridaceae
LightFull sun to partial shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height2-4 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental

The giant sword fern is an evergreen plant indigenous to the Pacific coast of North America. As its name suggests, they grow large sword-shaped fronds up to 4 feet long. 

It’s a popular ornamental plant with rhizomes that allow them to spread quickly on the ground and form colonies. This is why they’re also used in wetland restoration projects. 

You can also use the giant sword fern for a bold statement in your garden landscaping, such as a ground cover, specimen plant or privacy screen. The native Americans have also used its fronds to make poultices and teas to treat stomach cramps and diarrhea.

15. Australian Sword Fern (​Nephrolepis obliterata​)

Australian Sword Fern (​Nephrolepis obliterata​)
Image: The National Gardening
Scientific NameNephrolepis obliterata
Common NameAustralian Sword Fern
Kimberly queen fern
FamilyLomariopsidaceae
LightFull sun to partial shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height2-3 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental

The Australian sword fern is a large evergreen plant commonly found and used in wetland restoration projects in Australia. They’re fast-growing plants thanks to their rhizomes that allow them to spread and form dense colonies. 

Australian sword fern fronds are lanceolate and can grow up to 4 feet long. These fronds are attached to a stout stem, which can reach up to 2 inches in diameter, located at the base. 

This versatile fern is a great landscaping plant in warm climates. You can use them to boldly describe your garden as a ground cover, specimen plant, or privacy screen. 

16. Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum)

Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum)
Image: What Grows There
Scientific NamePlatycerium bifurcatum
Common NameStaghorn Fern
FamilyPolypodiaceae
LightPartial shade to full shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height2-3 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental, air purification

The staghorn fern is an epiphytic plant commonly found in the rainforests of Australia and Southeast Asia. It’s known for its antler-shaped fronds that grow up to 4 feet long. 

The staghorn fern has sterile and fertile fronds. The sterile fronds are large and shield-shaped, protecting the plant’s roots, while the fertile fronds are small and erect, producing spores. 

The staghorn fern is an excellent plant for terrariums and indoor gardens or gardens in warm climates. They will add a tropical vibe to your garden with less maintenance since they thrive in most conditions.

17. Raspberry Splash Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’)

Raspberry Splash Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus 'Crispy Wave')
Image: San Diego Zoo Wildlife
Scientific NameAsplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’
Common NameRaspberry Splash Bird’s Nest Fern
FamilyAspleniaceae
LightPartial shade to full shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height1-2 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental, air purification

The Raspberry Splash Bird’s Nest Fern is an ornamental plant indigenous to the rainforests of Southeast Asia. They have unique, deep green and wavy fronds with a reddish-pink splash at the center. 

It’s a slow-growing fern that grows up to 2 feet tall. They also have rhizomes that allow the fern to spread and form colonies on the ground. 

The Raspberry Splash Bird’s Nest Fern is best used in terrariums or indoor gardens since it’s easy to care for. They will add a touch of the tropics to your home, whether as a ground cover or ornamental plant in your garden. 

18. Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis

Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis) 
Image: Crocus
Scientific NameOsmunda regalis
Common NameRoyal Fern
FamilyOsmundaceae
LightFull sun to partial shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height3-6 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental

The royal fern is a large deciduous plant indigenous to North America, Europe and Asia. They’re famous for their plume-like fronds and ability to thrive in wet habitats, making them a staple in wetland restoration projects. 

Royal fern fronds can grow up to 6 feet tall, arranged in a bipinnate pattern, while attached to a stout stipe growing up to 3 feet tall. They thrive in moist, well-drained soil and even in shady locations. 

These fronds are also used to make poultices to treat wounds and skin problems, while their roots are effective in treating stomach cramps and diarrhea.

The majestic royal fern will add a touch of elegance to your garden landscape as an ornamental, specimen or container plant. You can also use them as a privacy screen or ground cover outdoors.

19. Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytoniana)

Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytoniana)
Image: Scioto Gardens
Scientific NameOsmunda claytoniana
Common NameInterrupted Fern
FamilyOsmundaceae
LightFull sun to partial shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height3-6 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental

The interrupted fern is a large deciduous plant indigenous to eastern North America. It got its name from the unique “interruptions” in the middle of its fronds, caused by the brown or dark green fertile leaflets.

Its elegant fern fronds can grow up to 4 feet tall and thrive in moist habitats, making it a common plant in wetland restoration projects. These fronds are also divided into small oblong leaflets arranged in a bipinnate manner while attached to a stout stipe.

The interrupted fern is a versatile plant that can add a touch of elegance to your garden landscape. You can use them as an ornamental, specimen, or container plant in your garden. 

20. Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)

Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)
Image: Meadows Farm
Scientific NameOsmunda cinnamomea
Common NameCinnamon Fern
FamilyOsmundaceae
LightFull sun to partial shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height3-6 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental

The cinnamon fern is a large deciduous plant native to North America. It’s unique for its cinnamon-colored fertile fronds that emerge during spring and turn brown during summer. 

The cinnamon fern fronds can grow up to 6 feet tall, and it has underground rhizomes to spread and form dense colonies on the ground. Its fertile fronds produce spores during spring and spread because of the wind. 

This elegant and versatile fern is excellent for landscaping gardens in wetland areas or streams as long as they have moist, well-drained soil and full sun. You can also use its fronds and rhizomes to treat wounds, diarrhea, stomach cramps and skin infections. 

21. Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina)

Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina)
Image: Gardening Express
Scientific NameAthyrium filix-femina
Common NameLady Fern
FamilyWoodsiaceae
LightPartial shade to full shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height1-3 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental

The lady fern is a deciduous plant indigenous to temperate regions, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. They’re famous for their feathery fronds and can grow in moist conditions, such as wetland restoration projects.

Lady fern fronds can grow up to 3 feet tall, and they are made up of small, oblong leaflets arranged in a bipinnate pattern and attached to a slender stipe that can grow up to 18 inches tall. 

It also has deep, underground rhizomes, which allow it to spread and form dense colonies on the ground. These rhizomes and fronds are traditional medicine to cure wounds, skin infections, diarrhea and stomach cramps.

The lady fern adds an elegant touch to garden landscapes as an ornamental specimen container plant, border plant, or privacy screen. It’s a low-maintenance plant that can thrive even in harsh streams.

22. Ostrich Fern (Onoclea struthiopteris)

Ostrich Fern (Onoclea struthiopteris)
Image: Extension
Scientific NameOnoclea struthiopteris
Common NameOstrich Fern
FamilyOnocleaceae
LightFull sun to partial shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height3-6 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental, edible

The ostrich fern is a deciduous ornamental plant native to the Northern hemisphere’s temperate regions. It’s famous for its vase-shaped fronds that can thrive in various conditions. 

Ostrich fern fronds can grow up to 6 feet tall. Its sterile fronds are larger and arching, while its fertile fronds are shorter and erect, producing spores that spread through the wind every summer.

The ostrich fern makes an excellent ornamental, container, specimen plant, groundcover, border, or privacy screen in gardens, shady areas or along streams. They will thrive if planted in moist, well-drained soil and get full sun daily.

23. Southern Shield Fern (Thelypteris kunthii)

Southern Shield Fern (Thelypteris kunthii)
Image: Pinterest
Scientific NameThelypteris kunthii
Common NameSouthern Shield Fern
FamilyThelypteridaceae
LightPartial shade to full shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height1-3 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental

The Southern shield fern is a herbaceous plant indigenous to the southeastern United States. It’s known for its arching fronds and ability to survive in moist conditions. 

Southern shield fern fronds can grow up to 3 feet tall. They have tiny, lanceolate leaflets arranged in a bipinnate pattern and attached to a slender stipe that reaches up to 18 inches tall.  

The Southern shield fern is a versatile and elegant plant perfect for landscaping, ground cover, living screen or ornamental planting. It prefers moist, well-drained soil and full sun but can even thrive in shady areas and streams.

24. Florida Shield Fern (Dryopteris ludoviciana)

Florida Shield Fern (Dryopteris ludoviciana)
Image: Native Garden
Scientific NameDryopteris ludoviciana
Common NameFlorida Shield Fern
FamilyDryopteridaceae
LightPartial shade to full shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height1-3 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental

The Florida shield fern is a large semi-evergreen plant indigenous to southeastern United States. They’re famous for their glossy, leathery fronds that can grow well in moist and shaded areas. 

These Florida shield fern fronds grow up to 4 feet tall. They have tiny, oblong leaflets arranged to two-inch stout stipes at the base of the plant. 

The Florida shield fern makes a great, elegant addition to any landscape. You can use it as a ground cover, specimen plant or privacy screen to spice up an area in your garden. 

25. King Fern (Dryopteris affinis ‘Cristata’)

King Fern (Dryopteris affinis 'Cristata')
Image: Farmyard
Scientific NameDryopteris affinis ‘Cristata’
Common NameKing Fern
FamilyDryopteridaceae
LightPartial shade to full shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height1-3 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental

The king fern is a semi-evergreen plant native in the United Kingdom. It’s a cultivar of the native male fern and is unique for its large, crested fronds. 

These fronds can reach up to 4 feet tall and have small, oblong leaflets, each attached to a stout stipe at the base of the plant. They also have rhizomes, which help the plant spread and form dense colonies on the ground. 

The king fern grows well in moist, well-drained soil and full sun. You can use this majestic fern to add a touch of elegance to your garden landscape or as a ground cover in shady areas or streams. 

26. Copper Shield Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora)

Copper Shield Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora)
Image: RHS
Scientific NameDryopteris erythrosora
Common NameCopper Shield Fern
FamilyDryopteridaceae
LightPartial shade to full shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height1-3 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental

The copper shield fern is a semi-evergreen plant indigenous to China, Korea and Japan. It has distinct copper-colored fronds that change to a deep green as it matures. 

These fern fronds can grow up to 4 feet tall. They’re divided into tiny, oval-shaped leaflets attached to a stalk about 2 inches tall at the base of the plant. 

The copper shield fern is a hardy plant that is low-maintenance and disease-resistant. They make excellent ground covers, especially under trees and shrubs, since they help suppress weeds and moisten the soil. 

You can also use it as a focal point in your garden and let its striking copper-colored fronds add a touch of sophistication to your landscape. 

27. Shuttlecock Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Shuttlecock Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)
Image: Pinterest
Scientific NameMatteuccia struthiopteris
Common NameShuttlecock Fern
FamilyOnocleaceae
LightPartial shade to full shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height2-3 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental

The shuttlecock fern is a deciduous plant indigenous to the temperate regions of the Southern Hemisphere. They have large, vase-shaped fronds that unfurl during spring and look like ostrich feathers. 

This low-maintenance fern thrives in moist, well-drained soil and full sun. So, you can plant them in moist, shady spots to make a bold statement or use it as a backdrop for other shade-loving plants in your gardens. 

The shuttlecock fern can also be a great border to add texture and interest to your walkways. They also make awesome ground covers since they can suppress weeds and retain soil moisture. 

28. Lip Fern (Cheilanthes tomentosa)

Lip Fern (Cheilanthes tomentosa)
Image: Botanical Club
Scientific NameCheilanthes tomentosa
Common NameLip Fern
FamilyPteridaceae
LightFull sun to partial shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height6-12 inches
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental

The lip fern is a small evergreen plant native to rocky habitats of southern United States and Mexico. It’s known for its rounded fronds with lip-shaped margins and woolly, silvery undersides. 

It can grow well in dry, rocky conditions, making it a popular ornamental plant in xeriscaping projects. It’s also a low-maintenance plant that can tolerate full sun, poor drainage, and dry soil. 

Lip fern is best used in rock or crevice gardens, adding texture in those landscapes. You can also use them as a ground cover in dry, sunny areas or as a hanging basket plant for your deck or patios.

29. Tree Fern (Dicksonia antarctica)

Tree Fern (Dicksonia antarctica)
Image: Palm Place Nursery
Scientific NameDicksonia antarctica
Common NameTree Fern
FamilyDicksoniaceae
LightPartial shade to full shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height6-12 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental

The tree fern is a rare type of fern because it has a trunk with elegant bright green fronds. They’re native to eastern Australia’s tropical and subtropical regions and can grow up to 50 feet. 

Its trunk is a modified rhizome covered with scales or fibers. On the other hand, the fronds can grow up to 10 feet long and are covered with tiny leaflets and sori, or its reproductive structures located on the underside of the fronds.

The tree fern makes a great focal point in the garden because of its lush, green fronds that immediately give your landscape a tropical vibe. You can also use it as a screen, hedge, border, or ground cover to add interest and texture to your garden.

30. Hairy Lipfern (Cheilanthes lanosa

Hairy Lipfern (Cheilanthes lanosa) 
Image: Gardening Express
Scientific NameCheilanthes lanosa
Common NameHairy Lipfern
FamilyPteridaceae
LightFull sun to partial shade
SoilMoist, well-drained soil
Height6-12 inches
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sOrnamental

The hairy lipfern is a tiny, evergreen plant that thrives in the rocky areas of North America. It’s known for its small, rounded fronds with lip-shaped margins that are covered in wooly hairs. 

This versatile fern is a low-maintenance plant that can tolerate poor drainage, dry soil and full sun. It also provides food and shelter to butterflies, birds and moths. 

Hairy lip ferns are commonly used in rock or crevice gardens. They’re also used as a ground cover, container or vertical accent plants to add interest and texture to the landscape backdrop.

FAQs on Sun Tolerant Ferns

What happens if a fern gets too much sun?


When a fern plant gets too much sun, its fronds and leaves will turn yellow and then scorching brown. In severe cases, too much sunlight causes the death of the fern plant.

Can Boston ferns tolerate full sun?


Boston ferns cannot take full sun since they prefer bright, indirect sunlight. 

What ferns are heat tolerant?


Some heat-tolerant ferns include the Southern shield fern (Thelypteris kunthii), Florida shield fern (Dryopteris ludoviciana), Sword fern (Nephrolepis exaltata), Macho fern (Nephrolepis biserrata ‘Macho’) and Autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora).

What is the most drought-tolerant fern?


The most drought-tolerant fern is the eastern wood fern (Dryopteris marginalis). It can thrive in dry, rocky areas and survive for weeks without water.

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