Matteuccia struthiopteris, Ostrich Fern


A colony of Ostrich Fern in mostly shade conditions.

Ostrich Fern is one of the colony-forming ferns, like Sensitive Fern and others that spread by rhizome. It is also tolerant of sun as well as full shade, and various soil types. Because of these traits, one must choose Ostrich Fern for very specific siting as opposed to general garden planting. Consider planting it where it can form a colony up against natural or unnatural barriers. If you like to cook fiddleheads, this is the fern to plant.

In the above garden Ostrich Fern is going head to head with Hop Sedge, both appearing to keep the other at bay. It doesn't tolerate mowing, so can be comtained with a mixture of sun, lawn, and mowing. When planted in full sun, it is also likely to brown earlier in the growing season if it does not receive ample moisture. A stately fern with nice-looking fiddleheads in spring, it is probably best planted in mostly shade and moist soils with like-minded plants.

Height: 2 to 4 feet

Conditions: sun to full shade, wet to medium soils