Southern Wood Fern

Southern Wood Fern, Thelypteris

Ferns generally prefer the shadier parts of a garden, but southern wood fern can tolerate sunnier and dryer conditions than many other ferns.


Southern wood fern grows well in light shade or partial shade but can tolerate a fair amount of direct sun as long as the soil remains moist. The soil should be of average fertility, humus rich, slightly acidic and moist. This fern grows adequately in hot, dry conditions but is most impressive in moist, shaded locations.

Divide the plants regularly or pull up extra plants to control the vigorous spread. Cut out crusty old foliage in spring before new growth begins.


This fern makes an attractive addition to a shaded garden or to the edge of a woodland garden. It is best used where there is plenty of room for it to spread. The light green foliage provides contrast against darker green plants.


T. kunthii (T. normalis) is a deciduous perennial fern that spreads by rhizomes and spores. Where it is happy, it spreads quickly. This fern has large, triangle-shaped, gently arching, light green fronds and white stems. The fronds are not frost hardy.

Also called: Kunth’s maiden fern, southern shield fern, widespread maiden fern

Features: foliage; fast growth; easy to maintain

Height: 12–36"

Spread: 24–48"

Hardiness: zones 7–10

Notes: This lovely fern spreads quickly and is useful for filling lightly shaded locations.

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