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My New Fern: Cheilanthes Argentea

A new deciduous fern has captured my heart. Cheilanthes argentea is also called white back fern or silver cloak fern, and the common names refer to the striking color that covers the back of the fronds.  However, even without the unusual coloration, the fern would be beautiful.

Cheilanthes argentea will grow in zones 5-9. It is a short fern with a creeping habit. The crinkled leaves are up to six inches tall and grow atop dark, wiry stems. It needs good drainage and grows best in gritty, loose soil in partial shade. It is rabbit and deer resistant and is an excellent fern for draught tolerance. It likes to grow amidst limestone rocks and can even grow in crevices in rock walls, where the roots will seek out moist places between the rocks. 

I put my fern in loamy garden soil in a pot. So far it is doing very well under those conditions. I may later find it a place in the woodlands, where I think it will prosper.

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Reader Comments (17)

This is a very versatile little fern growing in amongst limestone rock. It would be nice planted along a rock wall in a shaded spot, where many other plants would find the conditions too trying.

April 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

That is a gorgeous fern. It would be perfect in my woodland garden, except for the gritty, loose soil part. I would certainly have to amend the red clay before I put that one in. Love that it is deer resistant. What about the rabbits?

April 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKarin/Southern Meadows

Sorry, you did say that it was deer and rabbit resistant.

April 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKarin/Southern Meadows

That is a beautiful fern. You captured it so well, color on the back and emerging frond. Lovely.

April 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNell Jean

How interesting! This fern looks almost exactly like one of the wild deciduous ferns we find all over the property here in winter and spring. I should probably blog about it before they disappear this year. Ours is the Gold Back (or Goldenback) Fern (Pentagramma triangularis). The obvious difference between them is the back of your ferns are white, and ours are a pale rust color. Sounds like the leaves may be a tad larger on yours too, but otherwise they look remarkably similar!

April 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCurbstone Valley Farm

Very pretty! It reminds me of a refined cross between Sensitive Fern and Ebony Spleenwort.

April 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSweetbay

Beautiful and very unique. I'll have to be on the look out for it.

April 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhillip

Really would love to have this fern which I have never seen before. I will have to keep my eyes open for it.

Ooooh! Pretty! Does it prefer alkaline soil? My soil is slightly acidic to almost neutral. I will have to keep my eyes out for a few for my garden.

April 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Maripoas

Not surprised your lost to that one!
Fab photos by the way.
Love the chandelier idea in previous post too!

April 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Webber

I am becoming more and more of a fern person. I'm off to look this one up and see if it will make it here. It is very pretty.

April 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJess

That's a beautiful fern Debs, one for our list! And good to know it grows between Zone 5-9 so should be fine here. Cheilanthes lanosa is another one that does well in our location

April 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

Interesting! Beautiful and very unique. I'll have to be on the look out for it.

April 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTennessee nurseries

That sounds like a fern I might be able to grow, I'm going to make a note of the name. I'm sure it will look lovely in your woodland. Christina

April 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Oh, that is pretty! It will look so bright and airy in a wooded spot! Love it!

April 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCat

Such a beautiful fern! I am not familiar with that one but I'm certainly going to look for it. Glad to have found your blog!

Deb, I'm just learning about the great variety of ferns out there as I'm about to add the first ones to my garden. This one looks like a beauty.

April 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJean
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