A hardy perennial ground cover that thrives in dense, dry shade, western sword fern also is a happy houseplant if it has indirect light, moist soil, and humidity (mist it regularly if the air in your home feels dry).
Wet to dry
Shady ground cover
Azalea, lily of the valley
When to Plant
Divide in spring
Western Sword Ferns: A Field Guide
A hardy, drought-tolerant ground cover native to shady woodlands from Alaska to California in the United States, western sword ferns also are dramatic houseplants to brighten up a corner in a dark room.
You’ll often spot Polystichum munitum growing along a trail beneath Douglas firs, cedars, or redwood trees—a clue to how hardy these ferns are, as most other plants cannot tolerate the dry, shady conditions beneath a thick tree canopy. In a garden, western sword ferns make happy companions to coral bells and shade-loving shrubs such as rhododendrons or azaleas.
Plant or divide existing clumps of western sword ferns in spring to give their roots a full growing season to establish before colder temperatures arrive. Give them plenty of space: a mature fern can measure 3 feet in diameter and grow up to 3 feet tall.