Blechnum spicant

deer fern

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

Outstanding Qualities

Blechnum spicant is a charming native fern that is one of the best textural plants for the woodland garden. Fertile and sterile fronds (those that produce spores and those that do not) are different in shape, which creates a distinctive foliage texture and tonal contrast on the same plant. The sterile fronds form a tidy arching mound of clean looking delicately cut foliage. The fertile fronds rise straight up above this mound giving a thin wispy, almost skeletal appearance. Both fronds will remain good looking from spring to late winter.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: fern

Foliage Type: evergreen

Plant Height: 2 ft. 0 in. (0.61 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 2 ft. 0 in. (0.61 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 to 9

Flower Color: none

Sun/Light Exposure: light to deep shade

Water Requirements: occasional watering

Seasonal Interest: year-round evergreen foliage

Resistant to: deer

Colors & Combos

Great Plant Combinations: Helleborus x hybridus, Corylopsis pauciflora, Trillium ovatum, Beesia deltophylla, Smilacena racemosa

Great Color Contrasts: blue, cream, silver

Great Color Partners: chartreuse, green

Culture Notes
Deer fern is an adaptable fern growing well in light to deep shade. It will grow well in rich moist soils or well drained locations with occasional summer watering and will also tolerate sandy and clay soils. Old fronds should be cut back in late winter or early spring before new growth starts.