How To Grow and Care For Tassel Fern Polystichum Polyblepharum

Polystichum polyblepharum (pol-IS-tick-um pol-ee-BLEF-ar-um) is a member of the plant family Dryopteridaceae hailing from South Korea and Japan. 

Tassel fern aka Polystichum polyblepharum
Tassel fern growing in the landscape | KevinWellsPhotography-DepositPhotos

Common names include:

  • Japanese Tassel Fern
  • Japanese Lace Fern
  • Korean Tassel Fern
  • Bristle Fern
  • Tassel Fern

This shade-loving, low maintenance, non-flowering perennial evergreen plant is a good choice in a naturalized setting where rabbits and deer may be present as it is rather resistant to them.

The plants’ genus name is Greek and a combination of the words polys and stichos, literally meaning many “in a row.” This is a reference to the many rows of spore cases found on the undersides of the leaves.

The specific epithet, polyblepharum, is a reference to the bristly scales which resemble “many eyelashes”.

Tassel Fern Care

The middle example in this video is the Tassel Fern. 

Hardy Evergreen Ferns – Millie Davenport – Clemson University

Size & Growth

Bristle Fern attains a height and spread of approximately 1 1/2′ to 2′ feet.

Flowering & Fragrance

This is a non-flowering plant.

Foliage

The foliage is shiny and dark green. Fronds are about 1′ or 2′ feet long. The vase-shaped, clumping growth spreads outwards to an overall height and width of approximately 2′ feet.

The foliage is very elegant, deep green, and lustrous. The lance-shaped fronds overlap. New fronds are coated with pretty golden hairs. As the young fiddleheads unfurl, they tend to flip backward briefly and look like a tassel, which explains the common name.

The stems of the plant are covered in silvery scales that provide a pretty contrast to the deep green leaves. The fronds grow in a wide, vase-shaped, symmetrical form. 

These evergreen plants stay fresh looking and lush throughout most of the year. The fronds look pretty in flower arrangements.

Light & Temperature

This plant does well in partial to full shade. Dappled shade is best.

Korean Tassel Fern is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 6 through 8.

Watering & Feeding

Tassel Fern has medium water requirements. Keep the soil evenly and consistently moist. 

Fertilize annually, early in the spring with a slow-release, general-purpose fertilizer

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Soil & Transplanting

It is easy to grow tassel Fern in well-draining, loamy, consistently moist soil that has been enriched with ample amounts of organic matter. Top dress with compost mulch to help retain moisture and nourish the plants. 

Be sure to plant the rhizomes at an angle because this will help avoid an accumulation of moisture on the top, which can lead to crown rot.

Grooming & Maintenance

Trim back dead fronds as needed to make room for fresh new ones to unfurl. This is especially important early in the springtime. 

Other Polystichums: Christmas Fern Polystichum acrostichoides

How To Propagate Polystichum Polyblepharum 

The plant will self sow by spores, but it is easiest to propagate by dividing the rhizomes or detaching fronds which bear bulbils. Propagation by division should be carried out in the springtime. Propagation using fronds should be carried out in the fall.

Polystichum Polyblepharum Pests or Diseases

Tassel Fern has very few diseases and insect problems. If the soil is poorly draining, or the rhizomes are planted in an orientation that will allow water to collect, crown rot may be a problem. This is especially true during the winter months.

Is the plant considered toxic or poisonous to people, kids, pets?

Korean Tassel Fern is not known to be toxic to people, pets, or livestock.

Is The Tassel Fern Considered Invasive?

Japanese Tassel Fern is a good looking mid-size fern that does very well in shady, moist locations. The plant forms small clumps of deep green, arching fronds that stay green throughout most of the year in mild locations. This well-behaved fern is not invasive.

Suggested Polystichum Polyblepharum Uses 

Japanese Tassel Fern makes a nice underplanting for shrubs and rose bushes. It’s a great addition to rock gardens and cottage gardens, and these midsized ferns can grow well in containers.

Tassel Fern is a great choice in a woodland garden, a shade garden, or a wild garden. It is a versatile landscape plant that looks handsome along foundations or in borders.

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