Holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum)

12 years ago

Soooooo. . . . I'd noticed a while ago that we had a fern about a foot tall growing in the floor of the greenhouse, under the benches. Yesterday I went ahead and "dug" it up ("dug" in quotes because it was only in about half an inch of soil -- and even *that* wasn't supposed to be there; it was just what dripped out of other plants when they got watered) and brought it home, and wiped off the leaves and we've bonded and everything and it's awesome.

But I can't find much of anything very specific about caring for them. Most of what I find when I do searches on the web is talking about keeping them outside, and anything that's talking about indoors is usually in the context of a general post about ferns, and just says something like, "Oh yeah, holly ferns are great, they've got leaves that look like holly, kinda, and they're the most tolerant of all the indoor ferns," and then goes on to talk about some other, more *interesting* fern. I swear, it's like they're all plagiarizing from one another.

Which leaves me not entirely sure what I'm supposed to *do* for this guy. So, the questions, then:

1) What do I *do* for the poor guy? I mean, can I *really* do pretty much anything and he'll be happy? Can anyone who's had one tell me what works?

2) If they're so great then why don't more people have them? I mean, granted, they're not very ferny-looking. But people buy plants that aren't ferny-looking all the time. They're not supposed to be especially difficult to propagate, though I haven't actually seen any specifics on how to do that either. Meanwhile, we don't even have any for sale.

3) Most of the websites where I've found any information at all emphasize that the leaves are a "glossy, dark green." The ones on my plant are more of a pale, apple green, like on a bird's-nest fern. It *had* been in fairly heavy shade (under a table of peace lilies, which were themselves under a layer of hanging baskets, which were under a shade cloth, which is under a layer of glass), and it was covered with a dust / dirt / pesticide residue / hard-water deposit mixture, so possibly it wasn't getting enough light and it'll darken in time. I'm inclined to think it doesn't matter, since not all the pictures I've run into show dark green leaves either, but if this means anything special to anybody please let me know what I should do.

Comments (4)

  • nanw_4wi
    12 years ago

    I didn't find this fern to be too particular about humidity indoors, but as Rhizo does prefer a cool position in the winter.
    I usually put ours in the bedroom where it never got any warmer than about 65 degrees, and mine received very limited indirect light from a west window.
    It does sit rather 'dormant' during the winter and it will likely lose some lower fronds, but still fares pretty well as opposed to other ferns!

    I might add that it is a very, very *thirsty* fern, even throughout the winter.

    I put mine outdoors during the summer on our rear deck where it did get some direct morning sun.....but no sun in the afternoons, though it was receiving 'bright light' all day since it was outdoors.

    Like Shiver, I feel that this fern just isn't more commonly grown because it isn't commonly found.
    I think it's another one of those 'old and commonly cultivated' plants that has fallen to the wayside in the past couple of decades.

  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7
    12 years ago

    Holly ferns will like some pretty decent light inside, and as much humidity as you can muster. The cooler, the better, too. There is a lime green cultivar (Clivacola), but only time will tell if that is what you have.

    I'm most familiar with using these plants in the landscape, where they are quite hardy. I've always liked them.

  • mr_subjunctive
    12 years ago

    Thanks, shiver.

    I'm a little worried about winter here, whether it was a good idea to bring home a plant that likes humidity when winter's coming. I'm gambling that I have enough plants that they can humidify one another, somewhat, and putting it in the bathroom will take care of the rest. Though I do have a humidifier, too, if it comes to that.

  • shiver
    12 years ago

    I've had one of these ferns for a couple months now and it needs no special care. I give it medium light and water when dry---it seems to be growing *very* slowly though, so perhaps more light would be in order. Mine is also that "apple" color you spoke of. These plants are a real rarity in my area and I'm not sure what's up with that.

    My biggest concern is whether or not I can get it through the winter. The books say this fern is less demanding of humidity, but "less demanding" and "surviving a dry indoor MN winter" could be two differnet things! I guess I'll just have to wait and see...

    Enjoy your new friend!