How to Remove Dead Leaves From Outdoor Ferns

The 12,000 species of ferns grow in a wide variety of climates.

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Ferns add lush, low-maintenance greenery to the garden or landscape. Most grow happily in wet, dark areas with heavy clay soil where most other plants flat out refuse to thrive. This diverse group of plants has members that grow in cold climates and in the tropics and there are species for both deep shade and full sun. The occasional pruning keeps outdoor ferns looking green and lush all year round.

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Prune ferns early in spring before the new growth starts. Using a pair of sharp clippers, remove the dead fronds at the soil line.


Cut up the fronds into sections 2 to 4 inches long and lay them on the soil at the base of the ferns. This creates a natural mulch layer. As the fronds decompose, they add organic matter to improve the soil in your fern garden.


Trim out dead fronds in late spring or summer if you miss the early spring pruning. Clip the dead fronds at the soil but be careful not to damage the new growth. If you cut into a developing frond, it will grow deformed or die.

ReferencesSeattle Pi: Ciscoe's To-do List: Tidy Up Ferns but Don't Throw Away the FrondsAustralian Distance Education: Australian Native FernsWashington Native Plant Society: Sword FernUniversity of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension: Growing FernsPhoto Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty ImagesRead Next:

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