714 times read

How to Care for Western Sword Ferns

author article
, personal expert of business approach

Ferns’ delicate, lacy appearance adds beauty and texture to gardens. Many species can also thrive as houseplants. The Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum), is the most well-known of all the fern varieties. This common fern, which has bright green, blade-like, fronds and can grow to up to 4 feet in length, is native to North America. It thrives in forests and wetlands. It is a popular addition to any garden. It can be grown under trees or in shade gardens. Although western sword ferns can be grown outdoors, they can also thrive indoors in pots and containers that have been overwintered indoors.

Western Sword Fern Care

Western sword ferns can be low-maintenance and easy to care for if they are planted in the right conditions. They thrive outdoors in USDA zones 5-9, where they can acclimate to both warm and cold seasons. Western sword ferns don’t bloom, but spread by spores. These spores are visible under the fronds as small brown spots that are symmetrically grouped together.

Light

The common fern thrives in full to partial shade. Even though it is fine to have some direct sunlight throughout the day, the delicate fronds can be damaged by prolonged exposure to the sun. You should choose an area that receives light from the indirect to bright side.

Soil

As long as the soil drainage is good, the western sword fern can be adapted to most soil types. It thrives in acidic to slightly acidic soils and can often be found under evergreens and pine trees, where other plants cannot tolerate acidic soils.

Water

To ensure the soil remains evenly moist but not too wet, western sword ferns need to be watered frequently. You will need to water your western sword fern indoors at least once per week. These ferns can’t withstand drought and can quickly dry out and become crispy and die if they don’t get enough water.

Temperature and humidity

The western swordfern is an evergreen fern, which can grow in USDA zones 5 through 9. It can tolerate temperatures down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-28.9 Celsius) during winter. It thrives in moist conditions and prefers warm temperatures during the summer. You will need to humidify your western sword fern indoors by placing a pebble tray underneath the pot, or a humidifier nearby.

Fertilizer

Ferns are generally light feeders, and the western sword fern is no exception. These ferns may benefit from some fertilizer applications in the spring and summer, when they are active growing. Before applying, make sure to dilute the fertilizer to half its strength.

Pruning

The ferns can have as many as 75 to 100 leaves per plant. Sometimes, pruning is necessary to reduce the leaf crowding. This is usually done for aesthetic reasons. Do not remove the fronds in fall as they will die down for winter. They provide protection for new growth during the spring months. To remove any dead growth, wait until the spring. The entire frond should be removed, but you must avoid tight-rolled fiddleheads that may appear at the base. These will become new fronds.

Propagating Western Sword Ferns

The Western sword fern reproduces through spores and rhizomes. These ferns can be manually propagated by division of the Rhizomes, as the spores can be small and difficult to work. It is best to divide western sword ferns in the spring, before they have fully sprouted.

These steps will help you propagate Western Sword Ferns.

  1. Find a healthy cluster with rhizomes and use your hands or a sharp knife to separate one portion from the main clump.
  2. After separating the plant, move it to a new place and water it well.
  3. After separation, avoid fertilizing new plants for 6 months. Water it well for the first few weeks.

Potting and repotting Western Sword Ferns

Western sword ferns that are grown in containers should be repotted at least once per year to allow the roots more room, replenish the soil, and promote healthy growth. The best time to repotte these ferns is in the spring before the fronds fully unfold. You should choose a container one size larger than your last. Also, be careful not to damage the fragile roots while repotting.

Overwintering

If they are grown outside in containers, western sword ferns do not require overwintering. Although the rhizomes are able to survive in cold weather, they can freeze in containers or planters. They should be moved indoors during the winter months.

Common Pests

Although western sword ferns are generally resistant to most pests and diseases there are some common pests that can still be a problem for these ornamental trees. Watch out for signs such as mealybugs and aphids. These are sap-sucking pests and can cause severe damage to the leaves.

Common Problems With Western Sword Ferns

The western sword ferns are generally trouble-free. These plants often have problems due to poor watering and fertilization.

Browning Tips

If ferns are becoming brown and crispy around their edges, it is usually a sign that they are not getting enough moisture. Make sure the soil does not dry out between waterings. If possible, add humidity. Over-fertilization can cause browning tips. If this is the case, reduce fertilization.

Yellow Wilted Leaves

Overwatering is the most common cause of yellowing and wilting ferns. They are more commonly found in ferns grown indoors or outside in containers. Make sure your container has drainage holes. Also, make sure the soil is well-draining.

  • Do western sword ferns spread?

    Over time, Western sword ferns spread through the rhizomes.

  • What is the growth rate of western sword ferns?

    Western sword ferns grow slowly, as with all ferns. It may take several years for a western sword to reach the size that is suitable for division.

  • Do I need to apply Epsom salts on my Western Sword Fern?

    Epsom salts can also be used to fertilize ferns with liquid fertilizer. This provides magnesium sulfate, which can increase plant growth. It is not necessary for western sword ferns. Regular fertilization with a balanced fertilizer should suffice.

    Find out more:

    Can Epsom Salts Help Your Garden Thrive?

Over time, Western sword ferns spread through the rhizomes.

Western sword ferns grow slowly, as with all ferns. It may take several years for a western sword to reach the size that is suitable for division.

Epsom salts can also be used to fertilize ferns with liquid fertilizer. This provides magnesium sulfate, which can increase plant growth. It is not necessary for western sword ferns. Regular fertilization with a balanced fertilizer is sufficient.

Get more article like this one in your inbox

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.