Polypodium vulgare

common polypody

From: £11.95

Polypodium vulgare is a versatile, adaptable spreading evergreen fern, up to 40cm in deep moist soils or staying smaller as an addition to pots or vertical plantings.

The rhizome slowly creeps along wherever it can get a purchase, tolerating extreme drought once established.


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Origin: unknown, possibly North America
Genus: Polypodium
Species / Cultivar: vulgare
Common Name: common polypody

Plant Biography

Polypodium vulgare, the fern with many feet as the name suggests, is quite an ubiquitous fern in Europe and North America, though biologists have had a hard time tracing its origin.

The plant is very unpretentious about its location, being classified as a lithophyte : can grow on rocks, in every nook and cranny it can find. It was even found as an epiphyte plant, growing on moss on trees.

Polypodium vulgare
Soil: Moisture Retaining
Soil that drains at a slower rate due to higher organic matter content.
Growth Rate: Fast
Expect to see prolific growth, especially 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: 0.5m
The plant's ultimate height in typical growing conditions.
Eventual Spread: 0.5m
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: Evergreen
Always in leaf throughout the year. It won't lose all its leaves at any one time.
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.

Expert Tip

Use the common polypody in rocky ferneries to soften the landscape and to create a tropical effect. It can be used to colonize tree ferns for a more natural effect.
Care & Size Guidance

Care & Size Guidance

Very few ferns are as undemanding as the Polypodium vulgare.

Left to its own devices, the plant will spread indefinitely without becoming invasive. It creates a wonderful groundcover under trees and it will manage to survive in the most unhospitable environments.


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