Plant FAQs: Cyrtomium Fortunei

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All About Cyrtomium Fortunei: Your Guide to the Fortune’s Holly Fern

Hi, I’m Ferb Vu, and I’m here to answer all your questions about the Cyrtomium fortunei, also known as the Fortune’s holly fern. This elegant fern is a popular choice for gardeners seeking shade-tolerant beauty.

What is Cyrtomium fortunei?

Cyrtomium fortunei is a perennial fern native to Eastern Himalaya, Korea, and Indo-China. It boasts glossy, evergreen fronds that resemble holly leaves, hence the nickname “holly fern.” This low-maintenance plant thrives in shady areas and adds a touch of sophistication to any garden.

Is Cyrtomium fortunei easy to grow?

Absolutely! Cyrtomium fortunei is a beginner-friendly fern. It prefers moist, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Plant it in partial shade to full shade, as it won’t tolerate direct sunlight for extended periods. Water regularly, especially during hot weather, to keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy.

How big does Cyrtomium fortunei get?

Cyrtomium fortunei typically grows to a height of 12-18 inches with a spread of 18-24 inches. Its compact size makes it ideal for borders, containers, or underplanting taller trees and shrubs.

What are some common varieties of Cyrtomium fortunei?

There are several cultivars of Cyrtomium fortunei, each offering unique features:

  • Cyrtomium fortunei ‘Rex’: This variety boasts wider, more rounded fronds with a glossy sheen.
  • Cyrtomium fortunei ‘Clifton Forge’: This cultivar features deeply lobed fronds with a darker green hue.
  • Cyrtomium fortunei ‘Milford Mind’: This compact variety is perfect for containers with its smaller stature and upright growth habit.

How does Cyrtomium fortunei compare to other ferns?

Here’s a quick comparison of Cyrtomium fortunei with some popular ferns:

FeatureCyrtomium fortuneiMaidenhair Fern (Adiantum)Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium)
Leaf typeGlossy, holly-like frondsDelicate, fan-shaped frondsUpright, feathery fronds
Sun preferencePartial shade to full shadeHigh humidity, partial shadePartial shade to dappled light
Soil moistureMoist, well-drainedConsistently moistMoist, but not soggy
Deer resistanceYesNoNo

How do I care for Cyrtomium fortunei?

Caring for Cyrtomium fortunei is simple:

  • Watering: Water regularly, especially during dry spells, to maintain consistently moist soil.
  • Fertilizing: Apply a balanced fertilizer once a year in spring.
  • Dividing: You can divide mature clumps in spring or fall to propagate new plants.
  • Pests and diseases: Cyrtomium fortunei is generally pest and disease resistant. However, watch out for root rot caused by overwatering and occasional infestations of scale insects.

What are the benefits of growing Cyrtomium fortunei?

There are many reasons to add Cyrtomium fortunei to your garden:

  • Low-maintenance: This fern requires minimal care, making it ideal for busy gardeners.
  • Evergreen: The glossy fronds provide year-round interest in your garden.
  • Shade tolerance: It thrives in shady areas where flowering plants struggle.
  • Deer and rabbit resistant: Unpalatable to deer and rabbits, making it a great choice for areas with these pests.
  • Air purification: Like all ferns, Cyrtomium fortunei helps improve air quality by absorbing toxins.

How do I propagate Cyrtomium fortunei?

There are two main ways to propagate Cyrtomium fortunei:

  • Division: Divide mature clumps in spring or fall. Ensure each division has several healthy fronds and roots.
  • Spores: Propagating by spores is a more challenging method, but rewarding for the patient gardener. Spores can be sown on a sterile medium in a humid environment.

Where can I buy Cyrtomium fortunei?

Cyrtomium fortunei is readily available at many online nurseries and garden centers. Look for healthy plants with vibrant green fronds and no signs of disease or pests.


Cyrtomium fortunei is a versatile and beautiful fern that adds elegance and textural interest to any garden. With its easy-going nature and shade tolerance, it’s a perfect choice for both novice and experienced gardeners. So, why not add a touch of timeless charm to your garden with this magnificent fern?

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