CALL US +1.772.337.1959

Fishtail Swordfern


Ancient Garden

​​​​​​​​​Fishtail Swordfern

Nephrolepsis falcata

  • ​Common name: Fishtail swordfern, Fishtail fern
  • Scientific name: Nephrolepsis falcata
  • Family name: Nephrolepidaceae
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Height: 2 to 3 ft
  • Width: 2 to 3 ft
  • Growth: Fast
  • Zone: USDA Zones 9 through 11
  • Light needs: Part shade
  • Salt tolerance: Low
  • Soil/pH/Texture: Prefers moist, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. The substrate should have a slightly acidic to neutral pH between 5.0 and 7.0.
  • Moisture: Soil should be kept consistently moist but not waterlogged. It needs to grow in a humid environment to thrive.
  • Drought tolerance: Low
  • Pests/Diseases: Mealybugs and other insects may be a problem if the plant dries out too much.
  • Growing conditions: Does best in a warm, humid, and slightly shady area. As a tropical forest plant, it requires plenty of air humidity, so it is suitable to use as a houseplant for bathrooms, kitchens, or other humid areas in the house. It should also be kept out of direct sunlight so that its leaves don’t burn. It also requires consistent soil moisture, but make sure that the soil doesn’t stay too wet, or the plant may be susceptible to root rot.
  • Characteristics: This fern grows in a round shape with dense foliage and drooping leaves. Each individual frond reaches about 1.5 ft long at maturity, with numerous leaflets each measuring up to 6 inches long. These leaflets are the namesake of the plant, as they split and branch off at the tips, thus creating a fishtail-like shape. The spores grow along the undersides of the leaves in brown, circular sori.
  • Propagation: By division. It also reproduces by spores, but this is hard to control.
  • Facts: The species in the genus Nephrolepsis, which are collectively known as Boston ferns, are popular houseplants known for cleaning up air.
  • Designer considerations: It does very well both indoors and in containers and can add a tropical ambience to a room or porch, especially in hanging baskets. If planted in a garden, it makes for a good ground cover or border plant.