Tropical Ferns and Mosses Quick Links
Big Leaf Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum macrophyllum 'Peaches n Cream'
The oversized leaves (frondlets) flush peachy-pink, giving this fern distinctive color and attention-getting texture. This variety has staggering potential as an accent in shady outdoor combination planters, and, as other Maidenhairs, a stately stand alone houseplant in pots or hanging baskets. Performing best in bright shade, bright indirect or moderately low light, Maidenhairs require fairly even moisture, and are unforgiving of bone-dry soil.
Blue Star Fern (Phlebodium aureum mandaianum)
The surrealistic chalk-blue color of this easy to grow fern make it a real standout in shady baskets, planters & combinations. Deeply lobed, the oversized fronds make a bold canvas for the truly striking color. Best grown in shade to part shade, this is a very forgiving fern, provided it is not overwatered, and shows good drought tollerance for a fern.
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
There are many variations of this popular fern, exalted to fame during the Victorian houseplant craze of the 1800's. Boston ferns like very bright, but indirect light. They like to be kept reasonably moist, and thrive best in high humidity. They benefit subtantially from daily misting, and the use of humidity trays. If they get too much sun, or are allowed to get too dry, Boston Ferns "singe" readily. But singed fronds can be easily removed, and are quickly replaced by new ones. Click here for tips on caring for your Boston Fern.
Button Fern (Pellaea rotundifolia)
One of the easiest ferns to grow indoors, Button Fern's habit is one of neatly mounded, well-behaved cascading fronds, adorned with glossy, dark green, butt-like "leaves' or frondlets. Suprisingly drought tolerant for a fern, it performs will in most any light condition from quite low to very high light. Outdoors, we have found this selction to be a great compliment in mixed containers for shade or part shade.
Crested Bear's Paw Fern (Polypodium aurem 'Mandianum')
Intensely dramatic in shape, size, texure & color, the deeply cut fronds of the Bear's Paw are generously ruffled, and tinted nearly irridescent blue. Given all the unique attributes, young plants are ideal accents in combination pots, or spectacular spectacles of conversation in baskets, which in time can reach up to 4'. Like a Rabbit's Foot, Polypodium produce "hairy" pseudo-roots spill over the edge of its container, adding to the drama over time. This rare fern prefers moderated to very bright indirect light, or part shade.
Crocodile Fern (Microsorum musifolium 'Crocodyllus')
Another often hard-to-find gem of the fern world, 'Crocodyllus' grows as a semi-upright array of bold, oddly textured fronds, radiating from a central rosette. Given the texture of this unique fern, it is easily equated to its namesake - the Crocodile. Tollerating moderately low to very bright light, the Crocodile Fern is a little less water demanding than some ferns, and appretiates being allowed to dry out lightly between waterings.
Dwarf Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum microphyllum 'Little Lady')
The exceedingly delicate texture of this dwarf fern provide a sophistication & elegance with which few other tropical ferns can compete. Maidenhairs do best in bright shade to lower light, and prefer to be kept evenly moist. They can be unforgiving of dry soil for extended periods.
Emina Fern (Nephrolepis exalta 'Emina')
This curious and crisply crested fern is actually a contorted Boston, though much less messy & easier to grow. Contorted emerald fronds cluster tightly along upward branches which curve outwardly, giving the plant the appearance of a "jester's hat" made of curled parsley. Adaptable to moderate, bright indirect, or low light, it is much more forgiving than most Boston Ferns, but avoid extended drought. Click here for more information on growing this plant.
Fluffy Ruffles Fern (Nephrolepis exalta 'Fluffy Ruffles')
The tip of each frondlet has min-frondlets of its own, giving this Boston-type a "fluffy" appearance. Boston ferns like very bright, but indirect light. They like to be kept reasonably moist, and thrive best in high humidity. They benefit subtantially from daily misting, and the use of humidity trays. If they get too much sun, or are allowed to get too dry, Boston Ferns "singe" readily. But singed fronds can be easily removed, and are quickly replaced by new ones. Click here for tips on caring for your Boston Fern.
Foxtail Fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Meyersii')
Yes, indeed, this is one of several ornamental ferns directly related to Asparagus. Densly tufted, finely textured fronds present the effect of foliar fireworks. Very easy to grow, Foxtail likes full sun to part shade, and required nothing more than average watering. A stunning accent in combination planters, it is eaqually suited as a stand alone specimen in a pot indoors, or outside during the growing season. Click here for tips on caring for your Foxtail Fern.
Lemon Button Fern (Nephrolensis cordifolia 'Duffii')
Perhaps the most diminuative of the Bostons, Lemon Button grows 6-12" high, and only slightly wider. Formed of long strands of nearly round chartreuse frondlets, it is an ideal container fern where space is limited. Grow in bright indirect light, or filtered shade. Keep this fern evenly moist, as it does not like to be wet, or allowed to dry out. Lemon Button also makes a delightful accent in combination pots. Click here for tips on caring for your Lemon Button Fern.
Ming Fern (Asparagus retrofractus)
Easy to grow, but hard to find, this asparagus relative produces an non-stop littany of soft and frilly tufts on long nodding stems. But beware: despite its soft appearance, stems are lined with sharply barbed outcroppings, which may draw blood of given the opportunity. Unbelievably adaptable, Ming is forgivingly drought tollerant, and will grow in anything from the highest to nearly the lowest of light. Click here for tips on caring for your Ming Fern.
Osaka Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus 'Osaka')
Grandly ruffled, lance shaped fronds radiate outward from a central rosette. Tips of mature fronds nod and curl gracefully, providing a pleasing combination of texture, structure and style. The bright spring-green color is both unusual and fresh. 'Osaka' is easy to grow in bright or low light. We find it to be much more tollerant of drought than most references would lead one to believe.
Plumosa Fern (Asparagus setaceus)
Light an airy, delicate fronds are openly layered on long, upward twining stems. The sharply barbed stems of this ethereal climber can reach up to 20', but can be easily controlled by removing its seemingly rambunctious outgrowths. Prized as one of the most finely textured of ferns, Plumosa likes bright indirect light indoors, or a bright or filtered shade outside. Take care to keep it evenly moist; neither wet nor dry. Click here for tips on caring for your Plumosa Fern.
Rabbit's Foot Fern (Davalia fejeensis)
This slow growing fern had glossy, dark green, finely cut and densly layered fronds. If kept pot-bound, the fuzzy pseudo-roots for which it is famous will splill over the edge ofthe pot with curious and dramatic effect. Reasonably drought tollerant for a fern, Davalia likes bright indirect to low light, and despises being constanly moist. The Rabbit's Foot Fern is easy to grow, and a particular favorite for the youngest of indoor gardeners.
Red Tree Fern (Blechnum brasiliense crispum)
Very rare, we consider ourselves lucky to be able to offer a limited supply of this botanical oddity each year in early spring. New fronds emerge red, from translucent red fiddleheads, and eventually fade to a deep green. This slow growing form, like other tree ferns, will eventually develop a "trunk" from which fronds emerge. Unlike its relative, this dwarf will mature fully at about three feet. Grow in bright but indirect light, or direct morning sun for the best color.
Rita's Gold Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata 'Rita's Gold')
The consistantly bright yellow foliage of this fern make it a real prize. We love using this variety in mixed combination planters, but is certainly a good alternative choice anywhere you might otherwise use a standard Boston Fern. Give 'Rita's Gold the same care and culture as other Boston Fern varieties, making sure to avoid hot, direct sun, where she is sure to develop a bad sunburn. Click here for tips on caring for your Rita's Gold Fern.
Silver Lace Fern (Pteris ensiformis 'Evergemiensis')
Like green variegated silver threads gracefully dancing up slender stalks, this fern exudes an aristocratic grace and style. These stems emerge from a central mound of (juvenile) fronds which are broader, and even more boldly silver-guilded. This fern like average moisture, and does best in bright indirect to moderately low light. Sara loves using this one in combo pots, as in addition to the already mentioned attributes, it adds the element of graceful motion, in even the most sublte breeze.
Snowflake Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum raddianum cv. 'Snowflake')
A microcosm of botany's delicate detail, each fronlet is finely flecked and flashed with white, augmenting the delicacy of this fern's appearance. Performing best in bright shade, bright indirect or moderately low light, Maidenhairs require fairly even moisture, and are unforgiving of bone-dry soil.This plant is a Collector's variety.
Sprengeri or Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri')
This is the traditonal, easy to grow, hard to fail foliage fern everyone's Grandmother used with Geraniums. Withstanding both sun and drought, it is frost tollerant, so it can be put outdoors early, and left out late into the season. If all goes well, and the growing season is long enough, it may even produce shiny red ornamental (but toxic) berries in time for the holidays. If produced, fruit will often hold outdoors through the winter - not a bad feat for a sub-tropical fern. Click here for tips on caring for your Asparagus Fern.
Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum)
In its native habitat, Platycerium is an epiphyte (or "air plant"; growing not in soil but on the trunks of trees). As a houseplant, they can be grown in potting mix, in pots or baskets for a dramatic accent. They can also be "mounted" on wood, bark, or cork. Since, like most epiphytes, Staghorns have the ability to draw nutrients and moisture form the air, feeding is not needed, and water is required only occasionally (once every week or two in most cases).
Tassel Fern (Lycopodium squarrosum, aka; Huperzia s.)
Related to club mosses (Selaginella), this RARE plant is highly prized by collectors, connoisseurs, and conservatories. Soft, spring green tails trail freely from this exotic "fern ally". Provide shade or bright shade & even moisture. In winter, provide extra humidity by misting the plant every couple of days. Avoid using chemical fertilizers, feed sparingly during the growing season.
Tiger Eye Fern (Nephrolepis 'Tiger Eye')
Wow! Bright yellow & chartreuce stripes appear in varying widths and patterns throughout this Boston variety, maiking it a real stunner. Because of its outstanding color, it has become a favorite for use in combination planters for bright shade. More rapid growing than most Nephrolensis, a small plant can fill a big planter in no time. It stands alone as a specimen, and makes for a show-stopping basket. Treat this one just lke other Boston Ferns. Click here for tips on caring for your Tiger Eye Fern.
Trailing Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum caudatum)
Also called "Walking Fern", caudatum gracefully trails with generously long, super-finely textured fronds. As a houseplant, it always evokes interest from visitors, and we've found it makes a thrilling spiller from shady combination planters outdoors. Performing best in bright shade, bright indirect or moderately low light, Maidenhairs require fairly even moisture, and are unforgiving of bone-dry soil.
Tree Fern (Dicksonia antarctica -or- Cyanthea cooperi)
There actually are many ferns referred to as "tree-types", and we typically have a limited supply available each year in May. Regardless of genra, Tree Ferns are needy campers, requiring dappled light and copious soil moisture. They are heavy feeders, so in containers, a constant supply of time-release plant food is recommended. While they really do develop a trunk, they are slow to grow so getting height on the trunk takes patience. Because of the grand size of the fronds, fiddleheads on these plants are spectacular.
Victorian Brake Fern (Pteris cretica 'Albo-lineata')
As one might guess from the name, this fern was a popular Victorian houseplant. Boldy variegated with a broad silver band, sword shaped frondlets are splayed together by the thinnest of wire-like stems. Happiest in bright indirect light, it likes to be kept evenly moist and appretiates high humidity. We've found this to be another fine selection for use in mixed containes in bright but shaded areas.
Cypress Moss (Selaginella plana)
This clubmoss has delicately branched, lacy fronds, radiating in randomly layers directions. The particularly fine texture and spring-green color makes a refreshing addition to terrariums or unique indoor containers if well tended. Club mosses like bright but indirect or filtered light & fairly even moisture. Definetly a rewarding plant if happy, they will readily let you know if the soil is getting too dry.
'Frosty' Clubmoss (Selaginella 'Frosty')
Soft and frothy, this clubmoss has a neatly mounded habit with branched frond radiating from the center, almost like a bun. Foliage is fresh green, generouslt frosted with pure white tips. 'Frosty' likes to be evenly moist, and prefers bright-indirect or filtered light. This rare selection is usually only available November through January.
Golden Spike Moss (Selaginella kraussiana 'Aurea')
This is by far, our most popular clubmoss. It's vibrant golden-yellow color and soft texture make it a perfect accent for brightly shaded containers outdoors, or bright, indirect light inside. Like all club mosses, 'Aurea' should be kept evenly moist, but is the most likely to rebound if it gets a little too dry.
Peacock Fern (Selaginella uncinata 'Peacock')
With varying tones of seemingly irridescent blue, 'Peacock' is a show-stopper to be sure. With more of a low-growing, dense sprawling habit, it is suitable not only for bright indirect light inddoors, but as a stunning semi-trailing accent for mixed containers outdoors in bright shade. Keep this club moss evenly moist.
Rainbow Club Moss (Selaginella 'Rainbow')
This variety of club moss (or spike moss) is an ever-changing, non-stop display of cavalcading colors. Ranging from greens and irridescent blues intermixed with pinks and bronzes, the calico fronds spectacularly reflect this plant's integral idenity crisis. Too much light or too little water will cause this one to burn, so keep it moist (but not wet), and in bright light that's not direct for the best color.
Ruby Spike Moss (Selaginella 'Ruby Red')
'Ruby Red' is a stunner with dark blue-green fronds tipped and undersided with rich red. This slow growing variety is well behaved, and will tollerate more light than other spike mosses, but must be kept evenly moist or will suffer interminably. Hard to find, we try to keep this plant available most of the year, as it offer such unusual color.
Artillery Plant (Pilea microphylla)
Tiny round green leaves are densly packed on layering stems on this botanical oddity. Believed to date to prehistoric times, it produces both flowers (though very tiny ones) as well as spores on the underside of each leaf. Given its adaptability to a broad range of light conditions, and its amazing tollerance to drought, it is no wonder this plant has survived, unchanged, for so long. Try this for an unusual texture element in mixed containers, or as a relatively care-free houseplant.
Baby's Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii - or - Hexaline soleirolii)
This plant forms a low dense mat of tiny fresh green leaves ideal for growing on its own in a contain, or as a "pot cover" on the soil surface around other plants. It has many other names sunch as; Angel's Tears, Mother of Thousands, and Corsican Curse, as well as others. Keep it evenly moist and in bright indirect light or part shade.
Golden Baby's Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii 'Golden Pool')
This plant is just like its predecessor, but with a bright lemon-yellow twist. Use it to add a splach of color to the soil surface of other potted plants, around topiaries, houseplants, or just by itself as an accent. Keep 'Golden Pool evenly moist, and protected from hot, direct sun.
Mikado (Syngonanthus chrysanthus 'Mikado')
This enigmatic charmer begins with a densly tufted rosette of minute grass-like leaves which will never exceed a couple inches in height. From the center emerge stiff stems which radiate upward & outward, each topped with a round metalic-gold flower bud. (This is the only plant I know which produces this color!) Buds open to reveal fully double, tiny petaled white blooms. This plant is an oustanding choice for a terrarium! Strangely, for a grass-like plant, 'Mikado" prefers bright indirect, filtered, or moderately low light & should be kept evenly moist - do not let the soil dry out. The culture & care of this plant is virtually identical to African Violets. (See our Care Sheet, here.)
Variegated Artillery Plant (Pilea microhylla 'Variegata')
With new leaflets constantly emerging shrimp pink, eventually mottling with white and green, this plant appear to be in a constant state of bloom. While it does actually flower, blooms are so minuscule, they are hardly visible to the human eye. It is the foliage and form for which this plant is grown. Like the green form, it is suprisingly drought tollerant, takes extremely well to pruning, and is adaptable to most any but the highest and lowest of light conditions.