Overwintering Ferns


This spring I purchased two large (very upright) ferns from the home depot. They have done spectacularly this summer and I’m wondering if planted in the ground will they survive the winter. We are northwest of Ottawa (zone 3 or 4 I’m never sure). I am asking because we have many natural ferns in and around our property which do well and re-emerge every spring. I do not have the space to keep them inside. Looking for to your reply. many thanks.


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.

Without knowing the type pf fern that you purchased it is difficult to say whether your fern is able to survive our winter conditions. There are a variety of perennial ferns available from your local garden center which are able to survive our climate. ‘Lady in Red’ fern (Athyrium filix-femina ‘Lady in Red’), Japanese painted fern ( Athyrium niponicum), Wood fern (Dryopteris spp.), and Soft Shield fern (Polystichum setiferum) are just a few of my favourites.

If on the other hand, you purchased  hanging baskets of Boston ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata) these ferns are definitely not able to survive outdoors during the winter. If you wish, you can bring these plants indoors and given the proper light, water and humidity, you will be able to keep them over the winter and bring the plants back outside next year.

Two of our earlier posts give instructions on the proper care of  Boston ferns:

Bringing Boston Fern Indoors and Winter care for hanging ferns

For future reference, you might wish to contact your local MG group of Ottawa-Carleton at https://www.mgottawa.ca/