A look at three ferns that stay under two feet tall in a landscape.

Ferns can really make a landscape come alive with their billowy airy look and feel. These plants make great features under trees and as borders in a garden spot.

No matter where they are placed, they will definitely make a statement, and aren’t as hard to grow as one may think. These three will stay smaller than most and be great to fill in areas that are bare in the landscape.

Eastern Hay-scented Fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula)

The Eastern Hay-scented Fern, or Dennstaedtia punctilobula, gets to a height of up to 18 inches and spreads to two feet wide. It has a unique aroma in that it smells like newly cut hay.

It is evergreen and has no noticeable blooms. It will do best in partial to full shade, and soil that has a bit of acidity to it. There is lacy foliage and nice bright green fronds. If one wants to propagate this particular fern, one will need to split the rhizomes.

Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis)

The Sensitive Fern, or Onoclea sensibilis, grows to a height of up to 23 inches, just under two feet tall with the same spread. It spreads well and typically is a low maintenance fern. It is a hardy plant despite its name of “sensitive.”

It was named sensitive because of the fronds that wither upon a frost. This fern does best in full sun to partial shade, with soil that is a bit acidic. If this fern needs to be propagated it will need to have the rhizomes divided, preferably in the spring.

New York Fern (Parathelypteris noveboracensis)

Source: nativeplanttrust, flickr

The New York Fern, or Thelypteris noveboracensis, reaches a height of two feet tall and spreads to two feet wide as well. It is a slow grower but has an easier transplant than most ferns. It has gently tapered fronds that are typically seen in moist woody environments. This is one of the deer resistant ferns. Plant this one in full to partial shade and a bit acidic soil. This one can also handle a neutral pH soil. To divide and propagate this fern, just separate the root ball.

These three selections are going to give you completely different focal points in the landscape, where the eye is drawn to the fragile nature of a fern. It is a good plant to put between spots in the garden where one would like foliage to accent a flower or decorative plant. All three are good choices for this with their height staying lower to the ground.

If you want to learn more about fern types, check out this post from Farm Food Family

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I am founder of HomeandGardenDigest blog, where you can read about all living things. I have been a writer all my life, a collector of various interesting and old things, a traveler and an artist. Hobby and career paths have gone in many directions, from making miniature furniture to watercolor painting, fundraising for a symphony orchestra to selling antiques, from interior decorating to copyediting, from being a wife and mother to being a caregiver for family members with serious illnesses. Throughout the years I have learned and taught about all of these things and have been eager to share the information with a wider readership.

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