January 2013 Plant Profile: Blechnum chilense

January 8th, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Light frosts are tolerable and quite attractive, but very deep freezes can cause damaged fronds

Light frosts are tolerable and quite attractive, but very deep freezes can cause damaged fronds

Once so rare and only available through close-knit garden circles, this exquisite fern can now be purchased from several growers and specialty nurseries.

Our original plant growing here at the Center for Urban Horticulture came from the famed Miller Garden from Elisabeth C. Miller, herself. Over the years it has established into a prolific clump of thick, evergreen fronds that resemble the local name in its native Chile “costilla de vaca”, which literally translates to “cow’s ribs”.

It’s a robust, but slow growing fern compared to others, but it thrives in the same condition with adequate moisture and full to part shade with rich, but well drained soil with a lot of organic matter.

One caveat to this incredible fern is its winter hardiness.  It can easily survive temperatures just below freezing, but a very hard frost will damage the tough fronds and the plant can take its time waking back up from the base. It is best suited in a protected and sheltered location such as a deep woodland or in close proximity to a building or neighboring trees and shrubs.

 

 

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Common Name: Chilean Hard Fern

Location: Fragrance Garden

Origin: Chile, Argentina

Exposure: Full to part shade

Height and spread: 2-3ft. tall x 5ft. wide

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