Virtues: Frosty fern is easy to grow indoors with a few accommodations for its specific needs. It makes a festive foliage accent among holiday decorations, centerpieces or alongside flowering holiday plants like poinsettia and Christmas cactus. After the holidays frosty fern can be kept up as a houseplant. It mixes well in a large terrarium or dish garden.
Common name: Frosty fern, frosted fern, Krauss’s spike moss or club moss, African club moss
Botanical name: Selaginella kraussiana
Exposure: Indoors, give frosty fern bright but indirect light. Outdoors it prefers shade.
Season: Year-round for foliage. Frosty fern is often sold at Christmastime as a seasonal houseplant or gift plant, thanks to its textural, slivered foliage.
Foliage: Highly textural, green with silvery tips. The coloration of frosty fern inspires its common name and lends it a wintery look.
Origins: South and east Africa, the Azores and the Canary Islands. Selaginella kraussiana is considered an invasive plant in New Zealand, where it has escaped cultivation to naturalize in forests.
How to grow frosty fern: Despite its common names of frosty fern and spike moss, Selaginella kraussiana is neither a fern nor a moss. It prefers warm temperatures, high humidity and consistently moist soil.
Keep frosty fern in an environment where the temperature does not fall below 50˚F. It prefers the high 60s or 70s, but can suffer in air above 80.
Do not allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Keep it evenly moist.
To provide the high humidity that frosty fern requires, place its pot on a saucer filled with gravel or pebbles and water. Another way to promote moist air for plants is to cluster individual potted plants together, or grow them together in a dish garden (provided they have the same soil and watering needs). Frosty fern also grows very well in a closed terrarium, which naturally creates the consistently moist air and soil that it likes. Its size and form makes it a good ground cover in the terrarium.
Find other unusual holiday plants.
Image by K M via Flickr. License: CC by 2.0