Wooden Surface

Onoclea sensibilis

Sensitive fern is a unique and easily recognizable perennial fern with deeply lobed fronds and stalks that look like beads, which explains its other common name “bead fern”.  Onoclea sensibilis is sensitive to frost and goes dormant as soon as the first frost hits. Happily returning the next spring when the world warms up.


It is also sensitive to drought. Sensitive fern ideal conditions are partially shaded with organically rich, average moisture soils. This plant can tolerate full sun as long as the soil remains moist and well drained. It can tolerate full shade and in that condition it does not mind drier soils.


Onoclea sensibilis cannot tolerate stagnant water. However, generally the wetter (but well-draining) the soils the taller these will grow. Onoclea sensibilis is at home in a landscaped garden and also in habitat restoration. And this charming fern is also is a great shelter for toads and salamanders!


Fun fact: Onoclea sensibilis holds a title with the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit


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Onoclea sensibilis (Sensitive fern)

  • details


    2 quart pot

    type: fern
    sun needs: sun/part shade, shade
    water needs: moist to average soil
    height: 2'
    plant spacing: 1 per square foot
  • good plant companions

    Depending on the soil moisture you are working with, sensitive fern has many great companions plants. Very wet soils: bluejoint grass, tussock sedge, blue flag iris. In more average-moist soils: Canada mayflower, royal fern, wild geranium, choke cherry, common elderberry, marsh marigold, spotted Joe-pye weed, common boneset, Turk’s cap lily, mountain mint.

  • special notes

    deer resistant (please note that does not mean deer proof)