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Southern Shield Fern - Dryopteris Ludoviciana

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Southern Shield Fern
Dryopteris ludoviciana

USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 7a-10b  Find Your Zone

Note:  For our customers who live and garden north of USDA Zone 7a, where this fern variety is not reliably winter hardy, you'll be happy to know that it can be grown in containers which can be overwintered indoors and set back outside when temperatures warm in spring. 

Special Attributes

Not to be confused with the Southern Wood fern, the Southern Shield Fern, Dryopteris ludoviciana, also known as the 'Florida Shield Fern', is a stately, semi-evergreen clumping fern, native to the Southeastern US. It grows naturally throughout the South in wet woods, swamps, and over limestone rocks where it may reach majestic, evergreen clumps to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. In the garden, however, it is easy to grow in light shade and average to moist soil where it spreads slowly and rarely exceeds 3 feet; unless you are in the deep South with oppressively hot, humid summers and heavy, saturated soils where the fern thrives and attains its impressive 4 feet clumps. The fronds of the Southern Shield Fern are slender, glossy, and dark green, only dying back when temperatures drop into the 20's.

Landscape & Garden Uses

Growing in impressive clumps 3 to 4 feet tall and wide (depending on climate), the Southern Shield Fern is wonderful addition to the woodland garden. The shiny but leathery fronds form a striking upright architectural specimen in the garden. Use as an accent or in groupings. Despite being native to swamps, this hardy fern performs very well in normal garden conditions. Also a fine addition to Asian/Japanese gardens, rock gardens, tropical look gardens and around garden ponds and other bodies of water.

Cultural Preferences 

The Southern Shield Fern is easy to grow in slightly acidic to alkaline, humus-rich, moist but well-drained soils of average fertility in part shade to shade. It will tolerate dry conditions for a period of time but prefers a moist soil. It prefers some shade or dappled shade throughout the day though morning sun with afternoon shade is fine.

Helpful Articles

Click on a link below to find helpful advice from our experts on how to plant, fertilize, prune and water perennial ferns.

Plant Details

USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 7a-10b  Find Your Zone
Plant Type:  Semi-Evergreen Perennial
Height at Maturity:  36-48"
Width at Maturity:  24-36"
Spacing:  18-24" for mass plantings
Growth Habit / Form:  Arching, Clumping, Upright
Growth Rate:  Moderate
Flower Color:  None
Flower Size:  NA
Flowering Period:  NA
Flower Type:  NA
Fragrant Flowers:  NA
Foliage Color:  Green
Fragrant Foliage:  No
Berries:  No
Berry Color:  NA
Sun Needs:  Shade or Part Shade, PM Shade recommended
Water Needs:  Average
Soil Type:  Clay (amended), Loam, Sand (amended), Silt 
Soil Moisture / Drainage:  Moist to Well Drained Moist
Soil pH:  6.5 - 7.5 (Slightly Acid to Slightly Alkaline)
Maintenance / Care:  Low
Attracts:  Visual Attention
Resistances:  Deer, Disease, Drought, Heat, Humidity, Insect, Moist Soil, Rabbit, Shade

Plant Long & Prosper!

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