Dryopteris marginalis is a drought-tolerant fern, even more so than lady fern, and forms short, tidy clumps; making it a good neighbor to other shade lovers.
Wood fern has dark green, leathery, upright fronds that arise in vase-like circles from the rootstock. Foliage is evergreen through the winter, and start to brown in mid-April when the new fronds emerge from the soil, reaching maximum height and spread by early June. A well-behaved, non-colonizing fern, it spreads by rhizomes which form an erect crown and do not colonize or “run.”
Fern foliage provides food for many butterflies and moths during their caterpillar stage.
General fern growing tips: Ferns prefer well-drained soil high in organic matter. Most ferns require a moist, shady spot to grow. Many need plenty of moisture during the growing season and should be given an inch or more of water per week if not supplied by rains. Mulch with leaves or aged hardwood bark in the spring and fall.
Height: 1.5-2 ft.
Spread: 1.5-2 ft.
Sun: part shade to full shade
Deer and rabbit resistant
photo credit: David J. Stang