Onoclea sensibilis

Bead fern

Onoclea sensibilis, commonly known as the sensitive fern, is a deciduous fern prized for its unique traits. Its fronds, sensitive to light and temperature changes, curl during drought or frost.

Thriving in moist, shady habitats like woodlands and stream banks, it reaches heights up to three feet. With vibrant green fronds emerging in spring, it adds texture and interest to gardens. Hardy and adaptable, it’s a sought-after choice for landscaping. Discover how Onoclea sensibilis can enhance your garden with its distinct features and resilience.

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Origin: North America as well as Russia and Eastern Asia
Genus: Onoclea
Species / Cultivar: sensibilis
Common Name: Bead fern
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: A little
Easy to look after but may occasionally require some attention in order to thrive.
Situation: Part Shade to Full Shade
Can enjoy several hours of direct sunlight, but also happy in full shade.
Eventual Height: 0.5-1m
The plant's ultimate height in typical growing conditions.
Eventual Spread: 1.5-2.5m
The plant's ultimate spread in typical growing conditions.
Hardiness: Fully Hardy
Will survive unprotected outdoors in most areas of the UK, even in the harshest winters.
Habit: Deciduous
Sheds all its foliage annually, so for a period of the year it will be without foliage.
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

Onoclea sensibilis, the sensitive fern, thrives in partial to full shade and moisture-retentive soil, making it ideal for woodland gardens and damp areas. Regular watering is essential, particularly during dry spells, to maintain soil moisture levels. It typically grows to heights of up to one metre, forming large clumps over time.

While tolerant of various soil types, it prefers slightly acidic to neutral conditions. Mulching around the base helps retain moisture and suppresses weed growth. Pruning dead fronds in late winter or early spring rejuvenates the plant and encourages new growth, ensuring its vigour and longevity in the garden landscape.


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