annual

Variegated Boston Fern

Nephrolepis exaltata 'Variegata'

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Variegated Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata 'Variegata') at Martin's Home and Garden

Variegated Boston Fern foliage

Variegated Boston Fern foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  24 inches

Spacing:  18 inches

Sunlight:  full sun  partial shade  full shade 

Hardiness Zone:  (annual)

Other Names:  Sword Fern, Tuber Ladder Fern, Fishbone Fern

Description:

Elegant, finely-toothed, sword-shaped fronds that are variegated green and yellow-gold; a spectacular color groundcover for a woodland area; great in hanging baskets or containers, for indoors or out

Ornamental Features

Variegated Boston Fern's attractive glossy ferny pinnately compound leaves remain green in color with showy gold variegation and tinges of buttery yellow throughout the year. Neither the flowers nor the fruit are ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Variegated Boston Fern is a dense herbaceous annual with a shapely form and gracefully arching foliage. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other garden plants with less refined foliage.

This plant will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and should not require much pruning, except when necessary, such as to remove dieback. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Suckering

Variegated Boston Fern is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use
  • Container Planting
  • Hanging Baskets

Planting & Growing

Variegated Boston Fern will grow to be about 24 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 24 inches. When grown in masses or used as a bedding plant, individual plants should be spaced approximately 18 inches apart. Its foliage tends to remain dense right to the ground, not requiring facer plants in front. Although it's not a true annual, this fast-growing plant can be expected to behave as an annual in our climate if left outdoors over the winter, usually needing replacement the following year. As such, gardeners should take into consideration that it will perform differently than it would in its native habitat.

This plant performs well in both full sun and full shade. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America. It can be propagated by division; however, as a cultivated variety, be aware that it may be subject to certain restrictions or prohibitions on propagation.

Variegated Boston Fern is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor containers and hanging baskets. It can be used either as 'filler' or as a 'thriller' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination, depending on the height and form of the other plants used in the container planting. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

 
 
Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Characteristics
Massing  Garden  Container  Basket 
Applications
Foliage Color  Texture 
Ornamental Features