There are an abundance of perennial fern species that will return year after year to provide beautiful texture and color in your landscape or gardens. Some are deciduous, which means they lose all their leaves, and others are evergreen. Ferns come in various shapes, forms, heights and widths to provide year-round interest in your gardens. 

Some of the lowest maintenance perennial plants are the hardy ferns. That said, they and the looks of your garden will benefit from a little simple pruning at the right time. 


Pruning Deciduous Ferns

If a fern is deciduous, meaning it's foliage dies back to the ground when cooler temperatures arrive in late fall or winter, pruning is very straightforward. When a frond has died back completely to the ground, simply use a pair of scissors or sharp pruners to snip off the dead fronds. I usually wait to prune a deciduous fern until all the fronds have died back. Then I just grasp all the dead fronds at once and lop them off just above the ground. It's as easy as that!


Pruning Evergreen Ferns

If a fern is evergreen it's fronds (leaves) may last more than a year and can be left alone until at which time they become damaged or turn brown. At the end of winter, before new fronds begin to emerge and unfurl, I usually remove all damaged, brown or faded fronds from my evergreen ferns. Reason being, it's much easier to remove any unsightly fronds before the new fronds emerge, which makes it more difficult to clean out the old fronds that are now woven in with all the new fronds. 

When an evergreen fern such as my Autumn ferns have gone through an unusually harsh winter that has damaged or discolored all of last years fronds, I usually just do the same thing as with my deciduous ferns: lop all the old fronds off at once just above the ground. To avoid damaging any new fronds, I make sure to do this before new fronds begin to emerge.


TIP: During the growing season, damaged or dead fronds can be removed anytime.