Fronds for the Holidays

Picture of red poinsettia and fern

Ferns can be striking specimens in the home and work beautifully when displayed with poinsettias for the Holiday Season.

By Ellen Barredo

(This article was first published in The Gateway Gardener December 2009 issue)

an image of a poinsettia with fern and ivyWhen you first see a fern, it is graceful and delicate experience. The fronds from species to species are unique in size, texture, and color. They evoke thoughts of a fresh environment! Ferns can be striking specimens in the home and work beautifully when displayed with poinsettias for the Holiday Season. Another feature: many can be used in cut flower arrangements and be pressed/dried for artistic uses.

There are many ferns you can enjoy in the home and most homes have at least one window providing the bright light they enjoy. Ferns will require even moisture with a container that drains. Providing a cooler room temperature around 65 degrees is beneficial. Please do not place ferns close to a fireplace or heating/cooling vents. Remember, harder leaf surfaces can tolerate less humidity than softer leaved ferns. Try to provide humidity with evaporation trays or a mini humidifier. Most ferns do not like direct misting. Periodic feedings of a balanced plant food during the growing season will help produce a lush, robust plant with good foliage color. A new organic food coming on the market is Espoma Grotone. Visit for additional information.

Here are a few ferns to try:


a picture of the fern 'Fluffy Ruffles'

Fluffy Ruffles: A compact cultivar with sturdy, erect leaf stalks that reach a length of up 12 inches and stand close together. The leaflets are an intense dark green and have an almost leathery texture. ‘Fluffy Ruffle’ leaflets are soft to the touch and add softness to any poinsettia combo.

Silver Lace: This is a small, variegated houseplant with creeping rhizomes of varying lengths that may branch. The ‘Silver Lace’ fern forms clusters of sterile and fertile

a picture of the fern 'Silver Lace'

‘Silver Lace’ fern, photo by Ellen Barredo

fronds. The fertile fronds are long stemmed and project above the sterile fronds. The fronds are variegated and have an attractive, creamy white color that pairs wonderfully with salmon and pink poinsettia creations.

Green Flame: This fern is a superior and vigorous selection. The fronds are broad, succulent, glossy and have abundant leaf cresting. An upright growth habit makes the ‘Green Flame’ a real eye catcher in your poinsettia display.

Green Fantasy: ‘Green Fantasy’ is a stiff, upright Boston fern selection with bright green, highly textured fronds.  It is ideal for smaller pot sizes; it has a full and formal presentation. The big plus it is not supposed to shed as easily as other Boston Ferns.

Blue Star: A tropical American fern with brown scaly rhizomes cultivated for its beautiful crispate and lobed bluish-green fronds. ‘Blue Star’ is excellent for hanging baskets.

Fragrans Maidenhair: Elegant arching blackish stems accent the dark narrow fans of the “Fragrant Maidenhair Fern” The ‘Fragrans’ Maidenhair is easier than other fussier Maidenhair ferns to maintain as a houseplant. It is quite wonderful in a large glass terrarium with a few mini poinsettias.

Ellen Barredo studied horticulture at the St. Louis Community College at Meramec, and is a Missouri Certified Nursery Professional with more than 27 years in professional horticulture. She works at Bowood Farms and can be reached at (314) 454-6868.