Sensitive Fern

Sensitive Fern, Onoclea

A common sight along stream banks and in wooded areas in its native habitat, sensitive fern thrives in moist, shaded conditions.


Sensitive fern grows best in light shade but tolerates full shade or partial shade. The fronds can scorch if exposed to too much sun. The soil should be fertile, humus rich and moist, though some drought is tolerated.


Sensitive fern likes to live in damp, shady places. Include it in shaded borders, woodland gardens and other locations with protection from the wind.


O. sensibilis forms a mass of light green, deeply lobed, arching fronds. Fertile fronds are produced in late summer and persist through winter. The spores are produced in structures that look like black beads, giving the fertile fronds a decorative appearance that makes them a popular addition to floral arrangements. ‘Texas Too Tall’ is a variety that will grow to 36" tall, about 12" taller than the standard species.

Features: deciduous perennial fern; attractive foliage; habit

Height: 24–36"

Spread: indefinite

Hardiness: zones 4–9


Sensitive fern is sensitive to frost and can be easily damaged by late and early frosts.

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