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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
Partial SunNo Sun
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 growsto 2–3 ft. high, 5 ft. wide. Tuftsof bright green, narrow (2 in.wide), upright fronds with closely spaced, finely toothedleaflets. Roots often have small, roundish tubers. Plantspreads by thin, fuzzy runnersand can be invasive. Will nottake hard frosts but is otherwise adaptable, tolerating poor soil and erratic watering. Good in narrow, shaded beds. Effective groundcover; also good in pots and hanging baskets. ‘Lemon Buttons’ grows only 12 in. high with rounded leaflets. For native Western sword fern, see Polystichum munitum.

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