Eazy Gardening

Unleashing the Beauty and Benefits of the Versatile Blechnum spicant

A beautiful and easy-to-grow plant, the Blechnum spicant is commonly known as the Hard Fern or Deer Fern. It is a stunning addition to any garden or landscape, with its striking green foliage and reliability in harsh growing conditions.

This article will provide an overview of the Blechnum spicant, including its common names, characteristics, and benefits to wildlife. We will also discuss the ideal growing conditions, potential pest and disease issues, and planting and maintenance tips.

Overview of the plant

Common names, vernacular names

The Blechnum spicant is commonly known as the Hard Fern or Deer Fern. It is a member of the Blechnaceae family.

In addition to its common names, this fern has several vernacular names, including Buckley’s Spleenwort, Deer’s Foot Fern, and Spiny Back Fern.

Description of the plant

The Blechnum spicant is a deciduous, clump-forming fern that can grow up to one meter in height. The plant produces leathery, triangular fronds with scalloped edges that grow from a central crown.

The fronds are around 15-30cm long, and the plant may have numerous crowns, all from the same woody rhizome. This fern produces spores on the underside of its pinnae, producing a fan-like arrangement that gives the plant its characteristic texture.

Characteristics, including appearance, blooming habits, and benefits to wildlife

The Blechnum spicant is an evergreen plant that stays green throughout the winter months. Its vivid green foliage is a standout feature, contrasting beautifully against other plants in the garden.

The plant typically blooms in spring, producing small, delicate spores that can be seen on the underside of the fronds. These contribute to the beauty of the plant, falling like snowflakes from the fern’s arching fronds.

The Blechnum spicant is a wonderful plant to attract wildlife, as it provides habitat and food for many creatures. The plant’s leathery fronds make excellent cover for small creatures and birds.

The plant also attracts pollinators, making it a valuable addition to any garden or landscape.

Plant cultivation and care

Preferred growing conditions

The Blechnum spicant thrives in partial to full shade and moist soils rich in organic matter. The plant also grows well in acidic soil conditions, with a pH range of 4.5-6.0. The ideal soil type for this plant is loamy soil that retains moisture well.

Blechnum spicant prefers a well-draining soil and likes to be kept moist during the growing season. Therefore, the plant prefers to be mulched with leaf mould, shredded bark, or old compost.

Leaf mould is ideal as it will increase the soil acidity and retain moisture.

Potential pest and disease issues

The most common pests that affect Blechnum spicant are slugs and snails. These pests can damage the fronds of the plant, making it look unattractive.

To combat these pests, use a plant-friendly slug and snail bait. If the fern has been mulched, the presence of these plant pests will be reduced.

Planting and maintenance tips

The best time to plant Blechnum spicant is in autumn or early spring. This will allow the fern to get established before the summer heat.

It is important to ensure adequate soil preparation before planting. Digging the soil to a depth of 10-15 cm and mixing in compost or a slow-release fertilizer will ensure the plants have enough nutrient-rich soil to grow.

After planting, water the plant thoroughly and apply a good layer of mulch. It is important to keep the mulch layer at about 5-8 cm thick.

This will reduce evaporation, control weeds around the plant, and prevent soil erosion. As Blechnum spicant is a relatively low maintenance plant, pruning is not typically necessary.

However, if the fronds become too crowded, it is beneficial to periodically remove the older fronds to encourage new growth. If the fern is growing in a windy location, it may be necessary to tie the plants to a support nearby, such as an existing tree trunk.

This will prevent the fern from being uprooted in times of high winds.


In conclusion, the Blechnum spicant, commonly known as the Hard Fern, is an evergreen plant that produces leathery, triangular fronds with scalloped edges. The plant is easy to grow and maintain, attracting wildlife to any garden or landscape.

By following the right planting and maintenance practices, it is possible to enjoy the beauty of this plant for years to come.

Plant Propagation Methods

The Blechnum spicant plant can be propagated using both sexual and asexual reproduction methods. Sexual reproduction involves the use of spores produced by the plant, while asexual reproduction involves the use of vegetative methods, such as division and rhizomes.

Sexual Reproduction

The Blechnum spicant produces spores on the underside of its pinnae that grow in a fan-like arrangement. Spores are produced in the spring and summer and can be harvested in late summer.

To harvest spores, it is important to choose a healthy frond from the fern with spores that have developed well. Carefully remove the frond and place it in a clean, dry plastic bag.

It is important to ensure that the bag is kept dry and sealed securely. Once the frond is removed, it is important to wait until the spores are fully mature before you begin propagation.

To propagate the spores, they must be sown onto a sterile planting mix of sphagnam or very finely sieved peat. Place the plant in a warm, well-lit place and sprinkle the spores over the surface of the media.

The spores will then germinate over time. Continue to water the surface of the media to keep it moist and remove any leaves that have become yellow.

After approximately eight to twelve weeks, the young ferns are ready to be removed from the media and transferred to new pots, using potting soil mixed with organic compost.

Asexual Reproduction

The Blechnum spicant can also be propagated using asexual reproduction methods, such as division and rhizomes. Division involves the separation of healthy plants into smaller sections using a sharp knife or garden spade.

It is essential to ensure that each section contains several healthy fronds and has some roots attached. The plant will then re-establish and grow into an independent plant.

Rhizomes are a way to propagate the Blechnum spicant through the use of twisted underground stems that are responsible for the production of new growth. To propagate this method, the rhizome should be dug up and cut into sections, with each section containing roughly two to three buds and roots.

The sections can then be planted directly into soil with good drainage and moistness, and left to establish new growth.

Plant Adaptations to Different Environments

The Blechnum spicant is a native plant of Europe, Asia, North America, and the Caribbean, and has adapted exceptionally well to different environments. Its unique features have enabled it to survive in a variety of conditions.

Adaptation to Moist Soil Conditions

The Blechnum spicant is adapted to moist soil conditions, which is ideal for growth during the growing season. Because of its ability to tolerate soil moisture, it is commonly found growing in wetlands, damp woodlands, and near streams.

It can be planted in water gardens or near water features, where its roots can access plenty of moisture.

Adaptation to Partial Shade

The Blechnum spicant is well adapted to shady environments. The plant is able to photosynthesize effectively even in partial shade.

In fact, excessive sunlight can cause the fronds to turn yellow or brown, which can make the plant susceptible to diseases. Therefore, partial shade is the ideal environment for the Blechnum spicant.

This makes it an ideal plant for planting under trees or in areas that receive dappled sunlight.

Adaptation to Acidic Soil Conditions

Blechnum spicant prefers acidic soil, and in the wild, it grows in peat bogs, which is an acidic soil type. Therefore, it is well adapted to growing in acidic conditions.

The plant thrives in soils with a pH range of 4.5-6.0. It is important to ensure the soil is well-draining and kept moist during the growing season.

Adaptation to Cold Temperatures

The Blechnum spicant is adapted to cold climates and can tolerate frost. This makes it an ideal plant for growing in high-altitude landscapes, where temperatures can drop significantly.

During the winter season, the plant stays evergreen and maintains its green foliage. Lastly, the Blechnum spicant is an attractive addition to any garden or landscaping project.

With its unique fronds, appealing texture, and standout green color, it adds aesthetic value to any setting. Its ability to grow in different soil types, shade levels, and moisture levels makes it a versatile plant.

Gardeners who understand the plant’s needs and cultivate it correctly can enjoy its beauty for many years to come.

Usage of the Plant in Indoor Setting

The Blechnum spicant plant can be an excellent addition to your indoor space. Its unique foliage, compact size, and easy-to-care-for characteristics make it ideal for indoor growing.

Here are some tips for using the Blechnum spicant plant in an indoor setting:

Potting and Soil

The Blechnum spicant plant prefers moist soil, so you should choose a pot with good drainage and use well-draining soil. Adding perlite to the soil mix can help increase drainage and prevent waterlogging.

The pots should be placed on trays filled with pebbles, which will help to create a humidity-rich environment around the plant.


Although the Blechnum spicant does well in full or partial shade outdoors, when grown indoors, it prefers to be placed in a well-lit spot where it can receive plenty of indirect light. Direct sunlight can cause the fronds to turn yellow or brown, so it is best to avoid placing the plant in direct sunlight.

Temperature and Humidity

The Blechnum spicant plant grows well in cool to cold temperatures. The plant also appreciates a humid environment, so placing it in a humid room or regularly misting it with a spray bottle can support good growth and healthy fronds.


As with outdoor Blechnum spicant plants, it is important to keep the indoor plants clean and free of debris. Regularly removing dead or damaged fronds can encourage new green growth.

Ensure that the indoor plant gets adequate fresh airflow to help prevent diseases.

Usage of the Plant in Outdoor Setting

The Blechnum spicant is a perfect addition to an outdoor garden. Whether you’re looking to create a low-maintenance garden, add privacy to your outdoor space, or attract wildlife to your garden, the Blechnum spicant plant is an incredible choice.

Ground Cover

As a low-growing plant, the Blechnum spicant can make for a perfect ground cover plant. It provides thick coverage for the soil and suppresses weeds, making it an excellent choice for landscaping under trees or enhancing sloping grades.

The ground cover forms dense mats of foliage that are easy to maintain. This plant achieves natural mats that are around 15 to 20 cm high.

Grouping for Accent

The Blechnum spicant plant can also be used to add an accent to a garden. It can be used to create clumps or Grouping that provides a relaxing texture to any garden setting.

Grouping the Blechnum spicant plant in raised planters or accenting garden borders provides warmth and texture to the garden.

Wildlife Habitat

The Blechnum spicant can attract diverse wildlife to your garden. The plant provides shelter and breeding opportunities for many species of insects and birds.

Its dense fronds, rich soil, and ability to retain moisture make the plant an excellent habitat for a wide variety of wildlife.

Water Garden Plant

The Blechnum spicant plant can thrive in aquatic environments. It prefers moist soil with excellent drainage to prevent the roots from sitting in water.

Adding the plant to a water garden can create a beautiful accent, adding a lush texture to the standout plants. Moreover, this plant is tolerant of shade, making it the perfect addition to the canopy of the water garden.

Planting Tips

When planting outdoors, it is important to prepare a site with good drainage and organic matter. The plant prefers soil that is well-draining but stays moist.

Consequently, adding soil amendments such as compost or sand to the soil mix to increase moisture retention can enhance growth optimal. Planting it in a location that is partially shaded may be perfect for proper growth.

Moreover, it is important to frequently remove dead, dying, or yellow leaves to enhance optimal growth and fresh airflow. Toxicity of the Plant to

Pets and



While the Blechnum spicant is a lovely plant that adds beauty to any garden, it is important to be aware that it could be toxic to pets and horses if ingested.

It contains ptaquiloside toxins in parts that cause abdominal pains, which can be mild or severe.


The Blechnum spicant plant is also toxic to humans if ingested. People who consume the plant may experience nausea, vomiting, gastric irritation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Anyone who has consumed the plant and is experiencing any of these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.


Cats and dogs that come into contact with the Blechnum spicant plant may experience symptoms such as upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Ingesting the plant can lead to more severe symptoms such as seizures and even death.

Consequently, it is essential to call your veterinarian immediately if your pet has consumed the plant, regardless if it has shown symptoms.


Horses are also susceptible to the toxicity of the Blechnum spicant plant, and ingestion can cause symptoms similar to those found in humans and pets.

Horses that ingest the plant may experience colic, depression, inappetence, and digestion issues.

Horses suspected to have consumed this plant should have their veterinarian assess them for poisoning.


Although the Blechnum spicant plant offers beauty to gardens and landscapes with its feathery and dense fronds, it is important to be aware of its toxicity when consumed by humans and pets such as cats, dogs, horses, etc. It is advisable to keep the plant in a location that is inaccessible to pets, and supervise kids playing in the garden.

Finally, ensure to wear gloves when handling or pruning the plant to reduce any chance of skin irritations. In conclusion, the Blechnum spicant or Hard Fern is a lovely and versatile plant that can thrive in various environments.

It offers excellent ground cover options, can add an accent to outdoor settings, and is an ideal house plant. However, it is essential to be aware of the plant’s toxicity to humans and pets when ingested and to take precautions such as keeping it out of reach of pets and children.

The Blechnum spicant provides different benefits, such as attracting wildlife, filtering the air, and suppressing weeds. Finally, it is easy to propagate and maintain if planted in the right area with adequate water, light, and soil conditions.


-Can I grow the Blechnum spicant indoors?

Yes, the Blechnum spicant plant can be grown indoors and is an excellent choice for houseplant enthusiasts.

-Is the Blechnum spicant plant toxic to pets and humans?

Yes, the plant contains toxins that are harmful to pets and humans when ingested.

-What are the ideal growing conditions for the Blechnum spicant plant?

The plant prefers partial to full shade and moist, well-draining soil.

It also thrives in acidic soil conditions, with a pH range of 4.5-6.0.

-How can I propagate the Blechnum spicant plant?

The plant can be propagated using spores produced by the plant or vegetative methods such as division and rhizomes.

-Can the Blechnum spicant plant be used to attract wildlife to my garden?

Yes, the plant can attract diverse wildlife to your garden, such as insects and birds, providing them with food and shelter.

-What are some maintenance tips for the Blechnum spicant plant?

Regularly removing dead or damaged fronds can encourage new green growth.

It is also essential to keep the plant clean and free of debris, keep the soil moist but well-drained, and avoid direct sunlight.

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