Shade Grade: A
One of the best performing shade plants in our garden, and evergreen to boot!
Western Sword Fern
Polistichum munitum is an extremely hardy evergreen fern native to the Pacific Northwest lowlands and western slopes of the Cascade Mountains. Growing up to 4 feet tall and wide, the stately Western Sword Fern fern sports dark green leathery fronds that may survive well into their second year, providing year-round interest in the garden. Excessive frost and sun may burn the foliage, but the plant is easily refreshed by trimming away all old fronds in February, just before new growth emerges in early spring.
Luckily for us, these desirable natives spontaneously emerge in our north side garden (and sometimes elsewhere), and after a couple of seasons’ growth, I’ll transplant the young ferns to different parts of the yard.
I will also divide a selection of our more mature ferns every year, and so have developed a sort of assembly-line fern proliferation scheme to slowly fill the far reaches of our property with this virtually zero maintenance plant.
11/2006: In the landscape when we bought the house