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Nephrolepis cordifolia (photo courtesy of blickwinkel/Alamy)
Nephrolepis cordifolia (photo courtesy of blickwinkel/Alamy)

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Zones 8, 9, 12-24, H1, H2
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Partial, Shade
Regular Water

Nephrolepis cordifolia

Southern Sword Fern



Tough and easy to grow, these are the most widely used of all ferns. For native Western sword ferns, see Polystichum.

Nephrolepis cordifolia

Tough, easy-to-grow fern native to many tropical regions of the world (this genus also includes tender houseplant species, such as N. exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’, the Boston fern). It grows to 2–3 ft. tall and 5 ft. wide. Tufts of bright green, narrow (2 in. wide), upright fronds with closely spaced, finely toothed leaflets. Roots often have small, roundish tubers. Plant spreads by thin, fuzzy runners and can be invasive. Will not take hard frosts but is otherwise adaptable, tolerating poor soil and erratic watering. Good in narrow, shaded beds. An effective groundcover; also good in pots and hanging baskets. ‘Lemon Buttons’ grows to only 12 in. high with rounded leaflets. For native Western sword fern, see Polystichum munitum.

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