Home Gardening Sword Ferns: Easy-Care, Versatile Plants for Your Landscape

Sword Ferns: Easy-Care, Versatile Plants for Your Landscape

by Gregory
3 minutes read

All About Sword Ferns


Sword ferns are beautiful, lush plants that are becoming increasingly popular in home gardens. They’re easy to grow and add a touch of elegance to any landscape.


Sword ferns (Polystichum munitum) are evergreen groundcover plants with bright green, sword-shaped fronds. They typically grow 4 to 6 feet (1-2 m.) long and spread through underground rhizomes. Sword ferns also reproduce via spores found on the backside of their fronds.


Sword ferns are primarily grown for ornamental purposes, but they have other uses as well. They make excellent groundcover plants and can be used to prevent erosion on hillsides. They also work well as understory plants in perennial gardens.

Growing Conditions

Sword ferns prefer moist, shady conditions with well-drained soil. However, they can adapt to a variety of soil conditions and even thrive in the sun with plenty of moisture.


Planting sword ferns is best done in spring when the ground can be worked. Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball and mix in some compost or organic matter.


Sword ferns are relatively low-maintenance plants. They are drought resistant and don’t require much water, except during the first year after planting. They will keep their foliage throughout winter and can be trimmed back in spring if desired. Plants can also be divided in spring and transplanted to other areas of the garden.


There are several varieties of sword ferns available, so it’s important to choose the right one for your climate. Some popular varieties include:

  • Polystichum munitum: The most common type of sword fern, native to western North America.
  • Polystichum setiferum: A smaller variety with delicate fronds, native to eastern North America.
  • Polystichum acrostichoides: A large variety with broad fronds, native to Japan.


  • When acquiring a sword fern, make sure that you are getting Polystichum munitum. There are several other varieties of ferns that are commonly called Sword Ferns and some can be very invasive in some climates.
  • Sword ferns are easy to transplant, so don’t be afraid to move them around your garden if needed.
  • Sword ferns are relatively deer-resistant, making them a good choice for areas where deer are a problem.


Sword ferns are a great choice for the landscape because they are:

  • Easy to grow and care for
  • Drought resistant
  • Versatile and can be used in a variety of ways
  • Add interest and texture to the garden


Sword ferns are a beautiful and versatile addition to any garden. With their easy-care nature and variety of uses, they’re sure to become a favorite.

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