Sensitive Fern

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Sensitive Fern-Onoclea Sensibilis Hardy Planting Zones-4-9 Sun or Shade-Part Sun/Full Shade Mature Height-36" Mature Width-48" Bloom Season-Summer (May to August) Gardener Status-Beginner

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Sensitive Fern - Onoclea sensibilis

Sensitive ferns aren't the kind that curls up when you touch them. Instead, these exuberant green fronds are susceptible to frost. Despite that sensitivity, the ferns are prolific throughout the lower-Midwest and the Northeastern United States where they are found growing throughout hardiness zones 4 through 8. They only suffer when frosts are early, but they manage to rebound nicely if kept in optimum conditions. The ferns do best in consistently moist soils, to include clay soils. Though they prefer lighter soils, they can tolerate heavy clay and are adaptable to loam soils so long as the ground is kept moist. These bright green, upright ferns display triangular-shaped leaflets with serrated edges. They grow up to four feet high with a three- to four-foot spread.

Many gardeners place Sensitive Ferns in natural gardens and rain gardens.

The plants do not bloom, but they bring a pop of spring-green to otherwise purple-dark shade gardens. When conditions are right, sensitive ferns will stay green throughout the summer months but will die back when the weather turns chilly. Fortunately, sensitive fern does not attract pests or disease, a rare feature for a moisture-loving plant. In wet areas, replace problem plants with sensitive fern. Gardeners also place containers near water features, koi ponds, and natural streams. Though the plants can be taken indoors to be overwintered in atriums and greenhouses, they are more remarkable and striking when left to overwinter naturally.

Sensitive Fern ornamental plant can be medium or large sized and has a coarse texture.

They work well in both native plant and traditional gardens. These ferns are also popular choices for habitat restoration projects and in landscaping projects that are meant to appear to be natural. Online sources indicate that sensitive ferns can live in full sunlight but require wet soil to do so. The fern can be very tolerant of drier conditions providing it is kept in the shade. They also understand the damp ground as well. They can even survive in the winter if the dried fronds are not removed from the plant until the spring. Experts also state that these ferns will spread out to form fern “colonies.” They reportedly are the first plants found in disturbed areas. Finally, the sensitive fern is even an award-winning plant having garnered the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Sensitive Ferns get their name because they are susceptible and delicate to being broken or damaged.

This fern is tender to the weather. It needs a steady temperature to live at its best. Sensitive Fern also called Onoclea Sensibilis. Hardy planting zones are 4-10. The growth rate is up to 36 inches per season. This fern can provide green color, but with its delicate fronds, it takes work. It can grow in sandy, loamy or acidic soil. It can grow large up to 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. It can grow well in the southern states where its warm. They can be seen growing in the shade. Sensitive fern's growth rate is typical for outdoor ferns. After a few growing seasons, they will become a resplendent ground cover. Under extremely wet conditions sensitive fern easily reach their full height, if not more. Under these same conditions, the perennial plant will spread via rhizomes and spores. To slow growth try planting in containers along decks and walkways where the foliage will drift with the breeze.

Sensitive Fern Ships as Bare Root