NAME: Sensitive Fern
OTHER COMMON NAMES: Bead Fern / Sympathy Fern
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Onoclea Sensibilis
COLOR: Non Flowering / Dark Brown Sporangia
PLANT SEEDS: Outdoors after soil warms / Best started indoors in containers
BLOOM TIME: Non Flowering / Sporangia from Late Summer - Winter
HARDINESS ZONE: 3 – 9 (2 – 10)
PLANT HEIGHT: 18 - 36"
PLANT SPACING: 18"
LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Part Shade - Woodland
SOIL & WATER PREFERENCES: Average - Moist
QUANTITY: 1000 + Seeds (Spores)
Please note – These spores will be sent still IN their pods (sporangia). You will receive 2 - 4 of these seed pod “balls” (depending on their size – the larger pods have 500+ spores each, the smaller ones have 250 +, so we will make sure you get 1000 total) full of spores. Please see the last photo in this listing to see what the “balls” you will receive look like, as well as an aftershot of the spores once the pods are crushed & they are released. Sending the spores still in their pods makes them easier for you to sow, as the dust-sized individual spores are difficult to handle. Full instructions are included, but you will basically just crush & roll the pod between your thumb & forefinger over top of your planting medium to release & surface sow the fern spores (or you can crush them over paper to pick out smaller quantities of the spores to sow in a larger # of individual locations). Please message us if you have any questions about this, & we will be more than glad to help!
OTHER: The Sensitive Fern is a Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit award winner. This graceful & elegant beauty is native to Eastern North America & East Asia, but has also been naturalized throughout Western Europe & other parts of the US. It gets its common name ‘Sensitive Fern’ from its sensitivity to frost, but the plants are actually very cold hardy. These plants are able to tolerate clay, sandy, & limestone soils, & they are rabbit resistant.
Sensitive Ferns like part shade to woodland lighting best, but can grow in full sun with enough water. In part to full shade, these ferns can grow in average moisture conditions, but grow larger & taller in wet areas. Natural habitat & good planting locations include: swamps, bogs, marshes, wet meadows, forest, woodland, woodland edges, thickets, streamside, riverside, in ditches or rain gardens, & floodplains. Once established, Sensitive Ferns can spread to form colonies, & are great for naturalizing and/or as a groundcover.
The fiddleheads pop up in early spring in shades of red, & mature to light bright yellow-green 2 – 4’ fronds. Sensitive Ferns also have 12” long fertile fronds that are “beaded” (bead-like sporangia, which are the seed/spore pods) that have earned this plant another of its common names, Bead Fern. Both types of fronds are used in fresh & dried floral arrangements.
In regards to the hardiness zones listed above - The Sensitive Fern is hardy in zones 3 – 9, & likely also in zones 2 & 10 as well. Many sources include zones 2 & 10, but not all, & I don’t live in zone 2 or 10 to test this myself. If you are a zone 2 grower, I’d place these ferns in a protected location if possible, & mulch heavily. Zone 10 growers are recommended to grow these ferns in a sheltered location with shade & plenty of moisture.
The foliage of this fern is toxic to horses if it is eaten in quantity.
* We’ve got Sword Fern spores available in our store too! Drop by & check ‘em out! *
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