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Rock Cap Polypody Fern
Rock Cap Polypody Fern – Polypodium Virginanum
As the name implies, the Rock Cap Polypody Fern is most often found growing atop rocks and tree roots in shady woodland and is often referred to by alternate names such as Common Polypody, Virginiana Polypody, and American Wall Fern. Native to the Northeastern U.S. and Canada and Eastern Asia, this fern is ideal for zones 3-8, where it is often recommended as an easy-to-grow plant. As an evergreen perennial, it will bring consistent richness to the shaded nooks of any garden, delighting viewers with its petal-shaped, vibrant green lobes, often tipped with paler green or hints of red. Fern enthusiasts will note the asymmetric lobe pattern and the triangular lobe at the tip of each frond, as well as its graceful cascading tendency. With fronds ranging from 6 to 12 inches in length and a clumping habit, the Rock Cap Polypody Fern can easily fill in gaps beneath spreading trees or otherwise unsightly corners. It is best planted among mossy rocks or fallen rotting wood and will enhance any woodland display or rock garden. This fern prefers thin, well-drained soil ranging from neutral to acidic, and is extremely drought tolerant, making it a formidable choice for areas with hot, dry summers, while its evergreen hardiness will ensure color through the winter months. Like many ferns, the Rock Cap Polypody reproduces by dust-sized spores rather than seeds, which are distributed by gentle winds. Gardeners in more rural areas should note that these ferns are favorite winter food for deer and wild turkeys (though not rabbits), and plan their placement accordingly. Excess moisture or poor drainage may make it difficult to establish initially, but once adapted the Rock Cap Polypody Fern will spread into large colonies that will provide a cascade of year-round color for minimal maintenance.