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Matteuccia struthiopteris

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Photo Courtesy of Walters Gardens, Inc.
 Common Name: Fern-Ostrich

One of the largest and most popular ferns in cultivation today. The dark green, pinnate fronds are shaped like ostrich plumes, being much wider at the top and tapering down to a bare stipe.

The first set of leaves is sterile and has a gracefully arching form. These leaves can reach heights of 6 feet in ideal environments. This set of leaves dies back by early to midsummer and is replaced by a set of fertile, dark green leaves which are about half the height of the sterile ones. These leaves turn a shiny bronze-gold in fall, becoming brown in winter.

Ostrich ferns need plenty of space to grow since they are rapid spreaders. They spread by dense underground runners which extend out in all directions, quickly forming colonies.

Origin: Native Species

Characteristics:



Height:
  3-6 Feet
Spread:
  3-4 Feet
Foliage Color:
  Green shades
Hardiness Zone:
3,4,5,6,7
Find Your Zone
Sun or Shade?:
  Full sun (> 6 hrs. direct sun)
  Part shade (4-6 hrs. direct sun)
  Full shade (< 4 hrs. direct sun)
Wet or dry?:
  Average water needs
  Consistent water needs
Need critter resistant plants?:
  Deer resistant
  Rabbit resistant
How fast should it grow?:
  Rapid
When should it bloom?:
  Grown for its attractive foliage
How's your soil?:
  Average Soil
  Fertile Soil
Sweet or Sour Soil?:
  Acidic Soil (pH < 7.0)
  Neutral Soil (pH = 7.0)
What's your garden style?:
  Woodland/Shade
  Rain Garden
  Eclectic

Attributes:

Bog plant
Border plants
Cut flower or foliage
Ground cover
Grown for attractive foliage

Awards:

  Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit 1993

Homeowner Growing & Maintenance Tips:

Native to marshy areas and creekbeds, Ostrich ferns prefer to be grown in moist, humus-rich soil with a neutral pH. If planted in cool, moist locations, they will tolerate full sun. In general, however, they prefer open shade.


Companions:

Common/Botanical Name
Zones  
Galium odoratum
Common Name: Sweet Woodruff
4,5,6,7,8
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Tiarella 'Crow Feather' PP12335 COPF
Common Name: Foamflower
4,5,6,7,8,9
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Aruncus dioicus
Common Name: Goat's Beard
3,4,5,6,7
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Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears'
Common Name: Hosta
3,4,5,6,7,8,9
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Phlox paniculata 'David'
Common Name: Phlox-Tall Garden
4,5,6,7,8
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While every effort has been made to describe this plant accurately, please keep in mind that the height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates throughout the country. The description of this plant was written based on our experience growing it in Michigan (USDA hardiness zone 5) and on numerous outside resources.