ISSUE 91  |  Roadtrip

A Fern of a Different Color: Hardy Blue Fern

September 25, 2013 3:00 PM

BY Erin Boyle

Identified: A sturdy houseplant that manages to look delicate. The Hardy Blue Fern (Phlebodium pseudoaureum) got my attention last spring, and I’ve finally found a specimen to bring into my apartment. 

Above: I first spotted the glaucous plant (that’s bluish-gray-green in botany speak) in the collection that Lindsey Taylor curated at Mrs. Robertson this spring. Can you ID it in this photo?

Above: The soft green color of the foliage appealed to me immediately–it’s a lighter shade than the deep green of many hardy houseplants–but I opted for the Coral Nymph Salvia (R) instead and spent the next few months regretting my decision to not scoop them both.

Above: I eventually found this Hardy Blue Fern–known alternately as the Blue Rabbit Foot Fern and the Virginia Blue Fern–for $5 at the Union Square Greenmarket, and I’m proud to say that not only have I not killed it, it’s thriving. A similar Hardy Blue Fern in a 2.5-inch pot is available for $3.99 from Josh’s Frogs.

Above: While we’ve still had warm weather, I’ve been keeping my new plant on a not-often-sunny windowsill outside and watering it daily. When the temperatures drop, I’ll move it to the other side of the glass. Without the benefit of humid New York summer air, I’ll need to mist it weekly. But as ferns go, the Hardy Blue Fern lives up to its name and is decidedly less persnickety than some other plants in the family. This is a fern that likes to be kept moist, but that can handle a fair bit of indirect sunlight (unlike the delicate Maidenhair Fern).

Above: For now, I’ve been using a white Ben Wolff pot with a patina as a cachepot. When the plant grows a bit more, I’ll repot it in larger vessel. 

Above: The mitt shaped fronds of the Hardy Blue Fern can grow to 12 inches long. I can’t wait for my plant to develop longer, looser fronds. 

What about you? Any new houseplant acquistitions you’ve been pleased with lately?

Looking to build a houseplant collection? Here are 47 posts to help you get started.