5 Ferns that Are Native to Georgia

Ferns that are native to Georgia seem to have a subtle, breezy beauty that true southern belles will always fawn over. Putting ferns under a tree is a great way to use the space, as well as give them the shade that they are searching for. With over 9,000 varieties of ferns it’s sometimes hard to figure out which ones were designed for the heat and the humidity of the South. Ferns that are native to Georgia will grow better here because they were suppose to be here, instead of transplanted or introduced varieties. Below are five great starts with having a fern native garden in your southern Georgia landscape. For the optimum growth and vigor you need to mist them every now and then.

Botrychium virginianum (better known as Rattlesnake Fern)
Kingdom Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Division Pteridophyta – Ferns
Class Filicopsida – Order Ophioglossales –
Family Ophioglossaceae – Adder’s-tongue family
Genus Botrychium Sw. – grapefern
Species Botrychium virginianum (L.) Sw. – rattlesnake fern
This fern is indeed a beautiful specimen for any Georgia garden. It will get up to 12 inches high, but is slow growing so don’t expect it to fill out your garden space immediately. It grows well in shade and rich woody conditions. It is very difficult to transplant or propagate, best to stick with nursery stock plants. The center of this native fern has clusters that look just like a rattlesnake’s rattle, and was therefore named for this uniqueness.

Onoclea sensibilis (better known as Sensitive Fern)
Kingdom Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Division Pteridophyta – Ferns
Class Filicopsida – Order Polypodiales –
Family Dryopteridaceae – Wood Fern family
Genus Onoclea L. – sensitive fern
Species Onoclea sensibilis L. – sensitive fern
This native fern gets nearly 2 feet high and requires as much room to spread around. It too prefers light shade, like most ferns, and it will accept acidic soil so long as it’s moist. This is one fern you can propagate by dividing its rhizomes in the springtime. It spreads well, and its relatively low maintainance, good for containers too. Its a very hardy plant despite its name, which was given to it because the fronds of this native fern are sensitive to frost and will wither.

Polystichum acrostichoides (better known as Christmas Fern)
Kingdom Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Division Pteridophyta – Ferns
Class Filicopsida – Order Polypodiales –
Family Dryopteridaceae – Wood Fern family
Genus Polystichum Roth – hollyfern
Species Polystichum acrostichoides (Michx.) Schott – Christmas fern
This slow spreading perennial gets up to 3 feet in height and spreads to an area of one foot. It prefers partial to full shade and is drought tolerant. Its evergreen foliage stays green all winter. It is drought tolerant. Christmas fern fronds were formerly used for Christmas decorations.

Osmunda cinnamomea (Cinnamon Fern)
Kingdom Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Division Pteridophyta – Ferns
Class Filicopsida – Order Polypodiales –
Family Osmundaceae – Royal Fern family
Genus Osmunda L. – osmunda
Species Osmunda cinnamomea L. – cinnamon fern
This tall native fern will get up to 4 feet and nearly as wide too. It, like all ferns, prefer partial shade and moist soil. It is very tough and has a longer life span than most ferns. There are little fronds that are bluish green all over, and the middle has a “cinnamon stick” look to it’s fiddles come springtime. There is an antique look to the fronds that make it a southern favourite.
You can propagate this by dividing the rhizomes.

Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis (better known as Royal Fern)
Kingdom Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Division Pteridophyta – Ferns
Class Filicopsida – Order Polypodiales –
Family Osmundaceae – Royal Fern family
Genus Osmunda L. – osmunda
Species Osmunda regalis L. – royal fern
Variety Osmunda regalis L. var. spectabilis (Willd.) Gray – royal fern
This fern gets up to 4-6 feet and requires an equal distance in spacing zone. It loves full sun to partial shade and regular waterings. There are large bold fronds on this, and it makes a wonderful pondside fern. It is sort of reddish when young, but grows out of that to a typical green. You can propagate this by dividing rhizomes.

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