How to Grow Phegopteris – Beech Fern

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Phegopteris–commonly called beech fern–is a genus of deciduous terrestrial ferns that are found in damp soil on shady banks and rocks in areas of high rainfall in the Northern Hemisphere. Phegopteris are cultivated in gardens in deep shady areas with damp soil.

The genus Phegopteris is synonymous with the genus Thelypteris. Thelypteris is one of the largest genera of ferns, comprising nearly a thousand species native to tropical and subtropical wet forests. A few species are found in temperate regions, including the three species of Phegopteris listed below.

Phegopteris have pinnate-pinnatifid blades that bear minute, needle-sharp hairs; fronds are 1 to 2 feet tall.

Get to know Phegopteris – Beech Fern

  • Plant type: Fern
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 4-10
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 4
  • Height and width: 2 to 4 feet (.6-1.2m) tall
  • Foliage: Pinnate-pinnatifid blades that bear minute, needle-sharp hairs; fronds are 1 to 2 feet tall
  • Uses: Moist, shady border
  • Common name: Beech fern
  • Botanical name: Phegopteris
  • Family name: Thelypteridaceae
  • Origin: Throughout Northern Hemisphere
Broad beech fern, Phegopteris hexagonoptera in autumn
Broad beech fern, Phegopteris hexagonoptera in autumn

Where to plant Phegopteris

  • Phegopteris grows best in deep shade.
  • Grow Phegoteris in moderately fertile, humus-rich soil.

When to plant Phegopteris

  • Set container-grown Phegopteris outdoors in spring.

Planting and spacing Phegopteris

  • Space Phegopteris 2 to 4 feet (.6-1.2m) apart.

How to water and feed Phegopteris

  • Water Phegopteris to keep the soil damp.
  • Fertilize Phegopteris with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer in spring.

Phegopteris care

  • Phegopteris is easily divided by digging them from the ground, pulling the small plants from the parent, and replanting them separately.

Phegopteris pests and diseases

  • Phegopteris is usually not bothered by pests or diseases.

Phegopteris propagation

  • Sow spores at 60°F (15°C) as soon as ripe.
  • Phegopteris can be divided in spring.

Phegopteris varieties to grow

  • Phegopteris connectilis, narrow beech fern. Deciduous fern bears long-stalked, arrow shaped pale green fronds to 12 inches long.
  • P. decursive-pinnata. Deciduous fern produce narrow tufts of lance-shaped pale green fronds; grows to 32 inches tall.
  • P. hexagonoptera, broad beech fern. Deciduous fern with long-stalked triangular fronds; grow to 24 inches tall.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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