WESTERN SWORD FERN Polystichum munitum

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Polystichum munitum, the western swordfern, is an evergreen fern native to North America, where it is one of the most abundant ferns. It is also naturalized in parts of Great Britain and Ireland.

The dark green fronds of this fern grow 50 to 180 centimetres (1.6 to 5.9 ft) tall, in a tight clump. Individual fronds live for 1.5 to 2.5 years. They produce light yellow spores.

The preferred habitat of this fern is the understory of moist coniferous woodlands at low elevations. It grows best in well-drained acidic soil of rich humus and small stones. It is very resilient and survives occasional droughts, but flourishes only with consistent moisture and light sunlight.

In the United Kingdom Polystichum munitum has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

Type: Hardy perennial

Hardiness zones: 3-8

Location: Shade or part shade

Note: These spores (seeds) are VERY tiny, smaller than dust! There will be about 20+ spores per pack. They are folded in a paper to assist with easier removal. Open them carefully! Then tip the seeds over the soil. You could also gently "rinse" the seeds from the paper onto the soil. Germination information is below.

Germination: It is important to sterilize the soil mix with boiling water before planting. Use a pot with holes so water can drain. When cool, sow spores on the surface of the mix. Watering should be done from the base only (from a bottom tray), as watering from the surface will bury the seeds and they cannot grow. Cover the pot with clear plastic, and keep in a well lit location as light is required for germination. Do not place in direct sun. The ferns can take weeks or months to germinate.


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