Dryopteris austriaca (dilatata)

broad buckler-fern

Dryoperis dilatata is a semi-evergreen fern with a fairly upright habit, growing to 90 – 100 cm in height. An ideal plant to soften shaded corners or underplant larger trees.

The wide-spreading, finely-cut, triangular fronds rise upward and outward from its central crown. It prefers moist, shady areas, and can tolerate partial sun if the soil is kept moist.

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Origin: Western and Central Europe
Genus: Dryopteris
Species / Cultivar: dilatata
Common Name: broad buckler-fern
Synonym: Dryopteris austriaca

Plant Biography

Dryopteris dilatata (formerly known as D.austriaca) is a species native to Europe, mainly West Europe, however it can be found in places all the way to the Caspian Sea. It has a deciduous or semi-evergreen habit. In sheltered places with milder climate can stay evergreen throughout the year.

It grows in the understory of temperate forests, in rich moist soils. Similar to other Dryopteris family members, but with a broader frond in a triangle format. The Latin epithet for it “dilatata”, in fact, means ‘broad’ or ‘spread out’.

Several varieties are in commercial cultivation like D.dilatata “Crispa Whiteside” and “Lepidota Cristata”.

Dryopteris austriaca
Soil: Moisture Retaining
Soil that drains at a slower rate due to higher organic matter content.
Growth Rate: Medium
Expect to see moderate growth during growing season.
Water Requirement: High
Likely to require supplementary watering in warmer months, even once established.
Maintenance: Low
Minimal skill or input needed beyond the basics, a very independent plant.
Situation: Part Shade to Full Shade
Can enjoy several hours of direct sunlight, but also happy in full shade.
Eventual Height: 1.5m
The plant's ultimate height in typical growing conditions.
Eventual Spread: 1m
The plant's ultimate spread in typical growing conditions.
Hardiness: Half Hardy
Will need protection from frosts in order to survive winter, eg. with fleece jacket.
Habit: Semi Evergreen
May only remain evergreen in milder winters, or only loose leaves for a short period.
Lifecycle: Perennial
This plant is persistant and does not die off after flowering. It will return each season indefinitely, if provided with suitable growing conditions.
Care & Size Guidance

Care & Size Guidance

Plant the Dryopteris dilatata in shaded and sheltered spots in early spring. Use a compost rich mix to plant when in a pot, or mix compost with the soil when planting in the ground.

Apply a thick layer of mulch to keep the moisture in the ground. Though it may cope for short periods of time with the lack of water, avoid this in spring when the new growth is pushing.

In harsher winters it may lose all its fronds but will come back in spring more vigorous than ever.


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