So do I go with wrong Polystichum? HELP!

shadara(5b-6a)July 8, 2009

So I frequent a local GH and asked owner if I could order a "Christmas Fern" (Polystichum acrostichoides). She looks in her ordering book and says yes.

I went on vacation, come back, kinda fuzzy (jet lag n all), and go to pick up my fern. She points to where they are. I grab one. It says "Polystichum polyblepharum". She says it's a Christmas Fern even though I questioned the pickyness of the hairs or whatnot on it. And it said "Japanese Tassel Fern" on it. But she stated how attractive it was and that YES it was a Christmas fern (pointing at the "polystichum" part of the name on the tag.).

So now I'm home, almost a day later, and I feel like a complete dummy. I've already had some issues with her and sick heucheras (which were refunded) but OMG... what can I do and tactfully so as not to piss off my only local resource for plants?


So is 'P. acrostichoides' easier in my zone than 'P. polyblepharum'? I wanted a hardy, evergreen fern with at least a 2-3 ft height and same spread. What do you think?

Thanks so much! I feel duped and like a dummy!

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Japanese tassel fern (Polystichum polyblepharum) is native to Japan and south Korea. It is definitely not Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides). Christmas Fern native to the U.S.A.

Both the Japanese tassel fern and the Christmas fern are evergreen ferns, but the Japanese tassel fern gets about 1.5 to 2 feet tall, so it may be just slightly smaller than the Christmas fern, which can get anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 and sometimes even 3 feet tall.

Japanese tassel fern is reported to be hardy from Zones 5 to 8. The Christmas fern is reported to be hardy from Zones 3 to 9, so Christmas fern would actually be a safer bet for your hardiness zone.

Both the Christmas fern and the Japanese tassel fern prefer an acidic soil.

Don't feel bad--this happens to people all the time when they're shopping for plants at nurseries. I think people who work at nurseries really have a responsibility to know something about what their selling, but of course, this is not always the case. Some nurseries don't even put the plant's Latin name on the tag, which drives me crazy.

Anyway, sometimes there are species of plants from the same genus that are native to two different continents. For instance, Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is a native Asian honeysuckle that is banned in some states in the U.S. because it can be invasive in America, but Trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is a fairly well-behaved native American shrub, provided it's grown on U.S. soil. Same genus (the first part of the Latin name), different species (the second part of the Latin name).

I haven't heard of the Japanese tassel fern being invasive or harmful to American wildlife or ecosystems, so it is probably safe to plant it in your state if you don't mind it being maybe a tiny bit shorter and looking slightly different than a Christmas fern, and maybe riskier as far as winter hardiness. The Japanese tassel fern has somewhat glossier fronds than the Christmas fern, so that might be a plus, depending on what look you're going for.

It just sounds like this "nursery lady" needs to learn more about what she's selling, or she is just trying to make a buck and doesn't care about plants. Glad to hear you were able to return the sick heucheras.

I personally feel you have every right to return the Japanese tassel fern. If this irritates your nursery, it's their problem. And/Or you could just order your plants online from now on. If you do order online, try to find a nursery that takes online orders that's close to your area, or at least in your county or state, since the plants will survive their journey to your garden in better condition.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 1:45AM
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Thanks so much for the informative post! :)

Since the tassle fern is also an evergreen, I guess I'll still stick with it and hope it survives the winters here. We get quite a bit of snow so aside from squashing it, it should insulate it pretty well. It's a lil shorter than what I was going for, but as you said, the glossiness adds a new texture/look to the garden. Thanks again!

And I agree, I think I'll be ordering online from here on out.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 9:23AM
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petsitterbarb(Zone 6, N.E. OK)

I just bought several types of ferns, including both the Christmas fern and Tassel fern. They are both really wonderful plants! I vote for you to keep what you have and buy the can never have too many ferns, right??

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 12:38AM
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