Plant Focus: Polystichum setiferum ‘Herrenhausen’ & ‘Proliferum’

Little plants with long names!

Anyone who has ever asked me to design a planting scheme for them will know how fond I am of these lovely two small plants. They are two very attractive lacy evergreen ferns , which unlike a great many ferns, will tolerate drier conditions. And whilst they much prefer dappled shade, they will both also cope with a bit of sunshine (especially ‘Proliferum’). They will thrive in most soils. These characteristics mean that they are both beautiful and extremely useful.

The two plants are very similar – both around 450mm tall. Herrenhausen tends to stay a bit more compact (at around 500mm or so diameter), whereas Proliferum is a bit more vigorous in ideal conditions and may spread to 1m wide.

Polystichum setiferum ‘Herrenhausen’Polystichum setiferum ‘Proliferum’

Where can I use them?

Try planting them in a woodland or partially shaded area, or just to bring some lightness to a planting scheme. They combine wonderfully well with the large leaves of Hostas, Brunnera and Heuchera (giving a wonderful textural contrast), or the stodgier evergreenery of plants such as Hollies, Viburnums, Fatsia, where they lighten the mood. They also mix well with Daphne and Sarcococca, and plants like Philadelphus coronarius Aureus, and look superb breaking up a sea of Cyclamen hederifolium and coum.

Looking after Polystichum setiferum

They are almost maintenance free. Whilst described as evergreen, the old fronds do look a bit old and tired when the new fronds begin to emerge in Spring – so once they have done the job of protecting the unfurling new fronds, the old ones are best removed. Only a small task for plants that give so much!

 

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