Dryopteris cycadina - Shaggy Shield Fern

Dryopteris cycadina - Shaggy Shield Fern - Polypodiaceae

Dryopteris cycadina or Shaggy Shield Fern is an evergreen fern native to Eastern China and Japan. It is a very cold hardy fern and it grows well in the hot Oklahoma summers. The fern in the photo is 3 years old and has lived outside here for that long. The name "cycadina" is for its resemblance to the cycads. The fern will reach 2-3 feet (0.6-0.9 m) tall and wide. Pinnate fronds are dark green with the rachis covered in black scaly hairs. The fern spreads by a short creeping rhizome. It is a very easy fern to grow in the landscape and is hardy in USDA zones 5-9.

Blooming: Needless to say, this is a fern and produces spores on the underneath surface of the leaves in sori. Under the right conditions these are produced in abundance in ferns.

Culture: Dryopteris cycadina needs full shade with a moist rich soil. Our soil in Oklahoma tends to be a little alkaline. For this fern, we amended the soil with gypsum to break down the clay soil, and then we added peat moss and sand to area where it was planted. The amendments where worked into the soil to depth of 12 inches (30 cm). In our landscape, we grow these with Hostas and shade loving ferns of other species. We water all our ferns at home at least once a week and they are fertilized on a monthly basis. This fern is great for our area and really need very little care to look good. Although the fern is said to be evergreen, in mid-winter ours loses it fronds, but the new growth in spring is spectacular.

Propagation: Dryopteris cycadina is propagated by division and from spores. The spores are very easy to start. We use pure peat moss to sow the spores on. Once the medium is moist, sow the spores and cover with plastic wrap. Spores germinate readily and when they have produced their true leaves, they can be transplanted into individual containers.

Dryopteris cycadina was featured as Plant of the Week July 3-9, 2009.

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