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Hay Scented Ferns

Hay Scented Ferns

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Hay-scented Fern-Dennstaedtia punctilobula Hardy Planting Zones- 3-8 Sun or Shade – Partial to Full Shade Mature Height - 1-2' Mature Width- 2-3' - Gardener Status- Novice

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Hay Scented Ferns are non-flowering ferns which can produce 36-inch fronds when mature.

The lack of flowers is more than made up by the bright green fronds that smell like hay when broken or crushed. The fast-growing fern prefers shaded areas with slightly acidic soil to grow in, but the plant will adapt to sunny locations with less than ideal soil conditions and be at home in zones 3-8.

Growing Habits

A Hay Scented Ferns will form a colony and spread rapidly to become a dense ground cover. The plant makes an excellent ground cover for areas that you do not wish to mow or otherwise care for, but the fern can be invasive and is best planted away from cultivated landscape plants. The plant grows a healthy, fibrous underground root system which helps prevent soil erosion.

Fern Care

Hay-scented ferns thrive on their own after becoming established. Plant bare-root ferns in the soil to which compost has been added. The ferns are hardy and forgiving, but to get a colony established and growing without issue, work compost into the soil before planting to ensure proper draining. Once the hay-scented fern plants have become established, they will need no further care.


Bright green, large leafy fronds give the impression of textured carpeting after the plant colony becomes established. Planted under the canopy on trees at the edge of a landscape or on a hillside to prevent erosion, hay scent ferns add an interesting architectural element to the landscape view. The fern is deciduous, dropping their multitude of tiny leaves in the fall and returning in all their glory in the early spring.


Deer dislike the taste of hay scent ferns, so the plants can be used as a deterrent in areas where deer are unwelcome. Insects, pests and other small woodland animals also seem to dislike the scent and flavor of hay-scented fern and are usually not found in the area where these ferns thrive.


This is a beautiful fern to have around the house. The leaves of this fern turn to a greenish yellow or green color. In the shade, this plant spreads very slowly, but in the good moist soil in full sun it can spread quite explosively. Deer also use the plant as a cover while they lay down, so it may attract deer to your home. This fern looks good planted almost anywhere ranging from the garden, natural area or a hanging basket indoors.

Hay Scented Ferns


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