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Nephrolepis exaltata
  • RHS AGM

sword fern

N. exaltata is an evergreen fern to 1m tall, forming a large clump of narrow, arching, ladder-like, pinnate light green fronds to 2m long, the pinnae narrowly oblong or sickle-shaped; often produces young plant on runners

Other common names
boss fern
Boston fern
see moreladder fern
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Size
Ultimate height
0.5–1 metres
Time to ultimate height
2–5 years
Ultimate spread
1–1.5 metres
Growing conditions
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained
pH
Acid, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Green
Summer Green
Autumn Green
Winter Green
Position
  • Partial shade
Aspect

North–facing or West–facing or East–facing

Exposure
Sheltered
Hardiness
H1B
Botanical details
Family
Lomariopsidaceae
Native to the UK
No
Foliage
Evergreen
Habit
Bushy
Genus

Nephrolepis are rhizomatous, sometimes stoloniferous, evergreen ferns with narrow, pinnately divided fronds, broader and more highly dissected in many cultivars

Name status

Correct

Plant range
Tropics

How to grow

Cultivation

Grow indoors or under glass in a multipurpose compost or a mix of 1 part loam, 2 parts sharp sand, and 3 parts leaf mould in bright filtered light, with moderate to high humidity and good ventilation. During the growing season, water moderately soft water and apply a half-strength balanced liquid fertiliser monthly. Water sparingly in winter. Fronds can rot if they become too wet

Propagation

Propagate by spores, sow spores at 21°C (70°F) as soon as ripe. Separate rooted runners in late winter or early spring

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Patio and container plants
Pruning

Remove any dead fronds

Pests

Can suffer from scale insects

Diseases

Generally disease free but may be subject to rot if fronds become too wet

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