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Sensitive Fern

Onoclea sensibilis

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Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis) at Martin's Home & Garden

Sensitive Fern foliage

Sensitive Fern foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis) at Martin's Home & Garden

Sensitive Fern

Sensitive Fern

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  24 inches

Spread:  24 inches

Sunlight:  partial shade  full shade 

Hardiness Zone:  2b

Other Names:  Bead Fern

Description:

Touch this plant and the tender leaflets close, hence the the name; this ferny gem is readily propagated by spores living in large colonies, however it is short lived in each location

Ornamental Features

Sensitive Fern's serrated ferny bipinnately compound leaves remain light green in color throughout the season. Neither the flowers nor the fruit are ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Sensitive Fern is an herbaceous fern with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other garden plants with less refined foliage.

This is a high maintenance plant that will require regular care and upkeep, and is best cleaned up in early spring before it resumes active growth for the season. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Invasive

Sensitive Fern is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Groundcover
  • Naturalizing And Woodland Gardens
  • Bog Gardens

Planting & Growing

Sensitive Fern will grow to be about 24 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 24 inches. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 10 years.

This plant does best in partial shade to shade. It prefers to grow in moist to wet soil, and will even tolerate some standing water. It is not particular as to soil type, but has a definite preference for acidic soils. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. 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
Groundcover  Naturalizing  Bog 
Applications
Texture  Plant Form 
Ornamental Features