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Hard Shield Fern

Polystichum aculeatum

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Hard Shield Fern (Polystichum aculeatum) at Parkland Garden Centre

Hard Shield Fern foliage

Hard Shield Fern foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  3 feet

Spacing:  30 inches

Sunlight:  partial shade  full shade 

Hardiness Zone:  4

Other Names:  Shield Fern

Description:

A lovely evergreen fern, this variety has tapering ladder like leaves with each leaflet subdivided to give a fine feathery appearance; excellent massed or as groundcover in shaded borders or featured in shady areas of rock gardens

Ornamental Features

Hard Shield Fern's ferny compound leaves emerge light green in spring, turning forest green in colour the rest of the year. Neither the flowers nor the fruit are ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Hard Shield Fern is an herbaceous evergreen fern with a shapely form and gracefully arching fronds. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other garden plants with less refined foliage.

This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and is best cleaned up in early spring before it resumes active growth for the season. Deer don't particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Hard Shield Fern is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use
  • Groundcover
  • Naturalizing And Woodland Gardens

Planting & Growing

Hard Shield Fern will grow to be about 3 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 3 feet. When grown in masses or used as a bedding plant, individual plants should be spaced approximately 30 inches apart. Its foliage tends to remain dense right to the ground, not requiring facer plants in front. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 15 years.

This plant does best in partial shade to shade. It requires an evenly moist well-drained soil for optimal growth, but will die in standing water. It is particular about its soil conditions, with a strong preference for rich, acidic soils. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution, and will benefit from being planted in a relatively sheltered location. Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone over the growing season to conserve soil moisture. This species is native to parts of North America, and parts of it are known to be toxic to humans and animals, so care should be exercised in planting it around children and pets. It can be propagated by division.

 
 
Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight Soil pH Preference
Characteristics
Massing  Garden  Groundcover  Naturalizing 
Applications
Texture  Plant Form  Winter Value 
Ornamental Features
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