For a great addition to your part-shade garden in Northeast Texas, try the holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum). How great is it? Consider this:
It has presence. This isn’t a dainty fern – its substantial fronds with glossy, holly-like texture make a mounded fountain with a mature size of 2-3 ft. high and 3-4 ft. wide.
It’s evergreen. This is one fern that won’t duck underground with the first frost, so it adds interest to your garden all year.
It’s easy care. Holly ferns don’t blink in our heat and even withstand some drought. (Many area “weekenders” have had them for years so you know they’re not pampered.) If a holly fern gets thirsty, it lays down its fronds, but with its next drink, it’s no worse for the wear.
It’s versatile. This fern works beautifully in mixed beds of hostas, impatiens, perennials, and other ferns; coupled with dogwoods and azaleas; and as a groundcover under trees or on slopes.
It won’t take over. The holly fern grows steadily but slowly; as long as you’ve planned for its ultimate size it won’t overwhelm its neighbors.
It’s available. Nurseries carry holly ferns in containers from 4″ to 1 gallon and up.
Judy Heinrich, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service