Can I plant an Australian sword fern houseplant in Maryland, in zone 4, will it survive?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Doris in Maryland: The Australian sword fern (Nephrolepis obliterata) is considered a tropical for those of us not living in hardiness zones 9 and above. ‘Kimberly Queen’ is the most common cultivar found in garden centers this time of year. It is more tolerant of a sun-loving garden than other ferns in this family, none of which will survive the winter outside in the zone you are gardening in. You can over-winter these ferns indoors from year to year if you have a space inside that is south-facing or brightly lit. They can be messy since they tend to drop their foliage when they are brought inside, so keep this in mind if you are going to attempt to over-winter your fern. You can also cut back the foliage and let it put on new growth next spring, but it can take a while for them to become lush and full again. Sometimes it is easier to just purchase new ones each growing season.