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Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis)
  • Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis)

    Image: North Creek Nurseries



    Onoclea sensibilis, or Sensitive Fern, is a deciduous fern featuring attractive and broad, bright green fronds covered in spores in the late summer. The fronds emerge directly and grow freely from their rootstock. Sensitive Fern will blacken and go dormant after the first sign of early frost, and reemerging in spring. The plant provides a habitat frogs, salamanders, and insects, but does not overall have a pollinator value. It tolerates heavy clay, deep shade, and rabbits.



    Plant in rich, moist, well-drained, and neutral to acidic soils in full shade to partial shade. Sensitive Ferns may be planted in full sun but will require consistent moist soils. Although the fern is tolerant to heavy clay, avoid stagnant water or "sour" clay, as its roots need oxygen. The plant will spread by rhizomes and can be propagated by division every few years in the spring.


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