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Audubon® Hay Scented Fern
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Hay Scented Fern is a delicate-looking native Fern with fine, frilly, apple-green foliage. It’s so cute when the croziers (coiled fronds) emerge in spring and unfurl! But don’t be fooled by appearances—this is one tough plant, and it can grow rather aggressively in the cool climates that it favors. It can spread widely, creating a weed-smothering, ground-covering oasis of green. Use Hay Scented Fern under trees to crowd out invasive weeds like Garlic Mustard. It will provide a textural treat, while also giving birds and other small animals cover from predators as they forage on the forest floor.
May Benefit & Attract: wrens, sparrows, mockingbirds & thrashers, vireos
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
- Hardiness Zone: 3-8
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Recommended by Our Growers
This plant gets its name—not surprisingly—from the fact that its fronds smell like hay when crushed. The fragrance is most noticeable in fall, when the feathery foliage is dying back. At that time, Hay Scented Fern is visually appealing, too, because the pale green fronds often turn a glowing golden-yellow when autumn approaches. This species is primarily found in cool-summer areas all over New England. It also ranges south through the Appalachian Mountains to the foothills of Alabama. It can tolerate more sun and drier soil in the northernmost parts of its range and may form large colonies there.
Got deer? Ferns are usually a safe bet where deer are a problem. They provide needed greenery in the shady woodland garden spaces where deer may come looking for a meal, but deer tend to leave them alone. Hay Scented Fern is troubled by few pests of any kind and is relatively carefree.
How to Grow
Although Hay Scented Fern is one tough Spirit, treating it well will reap rewards. This means giving it a premium spot in the landscape where it will receive dappled sunlight or shade throughout the day. This Fern also appreciates rich, organic soil that holds some moisture but drains well and doesn’t stay soggy after a rain. Regular irrigation is important for lush growth, especially if plants are competing with tree roots for water. Hay Scented Fern goes dormant in the winter. Cut the spent fronds back in early spring, just before the new growth emerges.
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