Sword Fern

Nephrolepis exaltata

Boston Sword Fern, Wild Boston Fern, Tuber Ladder Fern, Fishbone Fern, Swaardvaring (Afr.)

profile iconNephrolepis exaltata (in a greenhouse) 01
by Kor!An (Корзун Андрей) (CC BY-SA 3.0)
1 of 8
profile iconNephrolepis exaltata (in a greenhouse) 01
by Kor!An (Корзун Андрей) (CC BY-SA 3.0)
1 of 8
The swordfern is commonly found in humid forests and swamps, growing best in damp but not soggy soils. It has widely arching fronds with toothed pinnae. Most cultivars are derived from this species, making it very popular as an indoor plant or planted in hanging baskets. The swordfern is often confused with the Tuberous swordfern (Nephrolepis cordifolia) – both are invasive in different parts of South Africa. Nephrolepis exaltata is a problem in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.
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Planning

Difficulty

Easy

Harvesting

Pick the green leaves to use in flower arrangements as needed.

Propagation

Division

Divide the stolon with leaves attached to form new plants.

Spores

Sow spores as soon as ripe.

Special features

Drought resistant

Can tolerate dry spells.

Indoor plant

Place in bright filtered light and mist when the humidity is low.

Pot plant

Plant in a moisture retaining potting mix, and keep the mix moist.

Wet sites

Will tolerate wet sites, as long as they are not permanently wet.

Attractive leaves

Environment

Light

Full Shade, Partial Shade, Partial Sun

Soil moisture

Moist

Soil type

Clay, Loam

Soil PH preference

Neutral

Frost hardiness

Tender

Personality

Family

Nephrolepidaceae

Scent

None

Problems

When fronds become too wet, fern scale and rot may be a problem.

Companion plants

Plant in damp shade, with ferns and sub-tropical plants.
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Knowledge and advice

Search our ever-growing knowledge base to find plants and information. Find out about pests and diseases you should be keeping an eye out for. Watch How to videos or follow step by step guides for tasks in the garden. Free download for your phone or tablet.
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