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Leatherwood fern Dryopteris marginalis,

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Leatherwood Fern

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  • plant color
    Light Green
  • plant season
    Late Spring, Summer, Fall
  • plant height
    18-24 inches
  • plant zone
    4, 5, 6, 7, 8
  • plant ships
    Year Round
  • plant exposure
    Full - Partial Shade
  • plant category
    Ferns, Natives



Leatherwood Fern

Leatherwood Ferns, Polystichum acrostichoides, have a lovely dark green foliage that is semi-evergreen. Often used by florists to accompany bouquets such as roses. Native to the Northeast part of the United States, leatherwood ferns adapt well to shady conditions. Perfect for gardens and accents, leatherwood ferns are both deer resistant and rabbit resistant. The plant does best in partial shade or completely shaded areas. The soil such be of a clay consistency, although leatherwood ferns do well in neutral and alkaline soil. This is an easy plant to care for and quite famous for people's gardens. 

 Leatherwood ferns are fast growing, averaging 24-36 inches in height.

The blue-green fronds grow 6 to 8 inches wide, and their name is due to the slightly leathery appearance they have. 

Leatherwood ferns pretty well grow well in most parts of the United States except in Alaska and the extreme Northern States such as Montana or Northern Maine. Most gardeners consider the Leatherwood Fern an easy to care for plant. Leatherwood ferns usually ship from growers in the spring and bloom in the summer. They need to be planted about 2 inches deep. 

The foliage for Leatherwood Ferns remains evergreen in most regions but may benefit from clipping back in late winter.

You can grow indoors many ferns, but unfortunately, Leatherwood Ferns are not one of them. Leatherwood ferns require a significant amount of humidity, which is not possible to control indoors. 

However, Leatherwood ferns do not do well when the temperature drops below 40 to 45 degrees. They can survive the occasional freeze, but if the temperature will drop to 30 degrees or so for five or six days in a row, it's best to take the ferns indoors if they are grown in pots not to cover them.

A light sheet or blanket around your Leatherwood ferns should be enough, but never cover your Leatherwood ferns with plastic. You can use black plastic, which will reflect the sun's heat when it gets warm, but clear plastic alone will produce a greenhouse effect.  Always have at least a sheet or a thin blanket as protection before laying black plastic around it. Try to teach your cats and dogs to stay out of your fern growing areas. 

Don't think that you are stuck alone with Leatherwood ferns. Many people like to combine them with azaleas and rhododendrons to make a more colorful garden. Due to their low maintenance, Leatherwood ferns can be the perfect choice for your garden's background color and foliage. 

As long as they get plenty of water and they are not planted in an area that is too sunny, they are a perfect choice for many.

Leatherwood Ferns for sale online at Perennial Nursery.

Leatherwood Ferns ship bare root only.


1. Do leatherwood ferns spread?

A. Leatherwood ferns (Dryopteris marginalis) are known for their clumping growth habit, meaning they typically form a dense cluster of fronds rather than spreading aggressively through runners or rhizomes.

2. How big do leatherwood ferns get?

A. Leatherwood ferns, also known as Dryopteris marginalis, are medium-sized ferns that typically reach a height of 1 to 3 feet. While individual sizes may vary based on growing conditions and environmental factors, leatherwood ferns are generally considered moderate in size compared to some larger fern species.



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Leatherwood Fern

These roots look great. I can't wait to get them into the ground and see what happens.
Posted by Leatherwood Fern on 13th Mar 2023
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