Complete Guide to Planting & Growing Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum)

Welcome to our complete guide to planting and growing the beautiful cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum). This hardy fern species is native to North America and is known for its unique cinnamon-colored spore-bearing fronds. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to successfully grow and care for cinnamon ferns in your garden.


Cinnamon ferns thrive in moist, shady areas and are perfect for adding a touch of elegance to a woodland or shade garden. When selecting a location for your ferns, choose a spot that receives dappled sunlight or indirect light. The soil should be rich, loamy, and well-draining. Before planting, prepare the soil by removing any weeds or grass and adding organic matter such as compost to improve fertility.

Pro Tip: If you’re planting multiple cinnamon ferns, space them about 2 to 3 feet apart to allow for their natural spreading habit.


Cinnamon ferns require consistently moist soil to thrive. Water the ferns regularly, especially during dry periods. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot. Mulching around the base of the plants can help retain moisture and keep the soil cool.


Cinnamon ferns are not heavy feeders, but they can benefit from a balanced fertilizer applied in early spring. Use a slow-release fertilizer or a well-composted organic fertilizer. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates and frequency.


In late fall or early spring, remove any old, brown fronds to maintain the fern’s neat appearance. Cut off the fronds at ground level using sharp, clean pruning shears. Be careful not to damage the newly emerging fronds, as they are essential for the fern’s growth.

Pests and Diseases

Cinnamon ferns are relatively pest and disease-resistant. However, they may occasionally be affected by slug damage if conditions are too damp. To control slugs, remove any debris or hiding places near the ferns, and consider using organic slug baits or traps.

Planting and caring for cinnamon ferns can be a rewarding experience for any gardener. By providing the right growing conditions and minimal maintenance, you can enjoy the beauty of these elegant ferns in your garden for years to come.

Overview of Cinnamon Fern

Overview of Cinnamon Fern

The cinnamon fern, also known as Osmundastrum cinnamomeum, is a deciduous perennial fern that is native to North America. It gets its name from the cinnamon-colored spore-bearing fronds that develop in the spring.

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This fern is known for its large size and attractive foliage, making it a popular choice for gardens and landscapes. It typically grows to a height of 3 to 5 feet and spreads through underground runners called rhizomes.


  • The cinnamon fern has two types of fronds – sterile fronds and fertile fronds.
  • The sterile fronds are delicate and bright green, growing in a vase-like shape. They can reach lengths of up to 5 feet.
  • The fertile fronds are taller and more upright, with a cinnamon-colored spore-bearing structure at the top. These fronds can grow to a height of 2 to 4 feet.
  • The cinnamon fern prefers moist, acidic soil and partially shaded areas but can tolerate some sun if the soil is kept consistently moist.
  • It is a hardy fern that can survive in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9.



Cinnamon ferns are often used in shaded gardens, woodland landscapes, and along streams or ponds. They can also be grown in containers or used as a focal point in a garden bed.

These ferns provide a natural and lush look to any garden, and their tall fronds can create a beautiful backdrop for other plants.

Additionally, cinnamon ferns are known for attracting wildlife, such as butterflies and birds, adding to the biodiversity of a garden.

Benefits of Growing Cinnamon Fern

Growing cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) in your garden or landscape can provide several benefits:

1. Beautiful Ornamental Plant: Cinnamon ferns are known for their attractive appearance, with their tall, erect fronds and distinctive cinnamon-colored stalks. They can add a touch of elegance and visual interest to any garden or landscape.

2. Low Maintenance: Cinnamon ferns are relatively low maintenance plants. Once established, they require minimal care and attention, making them an excellent choice for busy gardeners.

3. Shade Tolerance: Cinnamon ferns are shade-loving plants and can thrive in areas with partial to full shade. This makes them an ideal choice for adding greenery and texture to shady spots in your garden where other plants may struggle to grow.

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4. Soil Erosion Control: The fibrous root system of cinnamon ferns helps to stabilize the soil, making them an effective tool for erosion control. Planting them on slopes or in areas prone to erosion can help prevent soil runoff and maintain the integrity of your landscape.

5. Wildlife Habitat: Cinnamon ferns provide habitat and food for various wildlife species. Their dense foliage offers cover and nesting opportunities for birds and small mammals, while their spore-bearing fronds attract insects and other invertebrates.

6. Natural Wetland Plant: Cinnamon ferns are commonly found in wetlands and marshy areas. By growing them in your garden, you can create a mini wetland ecosystem, attracting a range of wildlife and enhancing biodiversity.

7. Air Purification: Like other plants, cinnamon ferns help improve air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. They can contribute to creating a healthier environment in your garden and surrounding areas.

8. Educational Opportunity: Growing cinnamon ferns provides an excellent educational opportunity for children and adults alike. Observing the fern’s life cycle, from spore to frond, and learning about its habitat requirements can help foster a deeper appreciation for nature and the environment.

In conclusion, growing cinnamon ferns not only adds beauty to your garden but also offers several practical benefits. Whether you want to enhance the aesthetics of your landscape, create a wildlife-friendly habitat, or contribute to erosion control, cinnamon ferns are a versatile and rewarding addition to any garden or landscape.

Planting Cinnamon Fern

When it comes to planting cinnamon ferns, there are a few important factors to consider. Whether you are planting in a garden bed or a container, following these tips will help ensure successful growth.

1. Choose the Right Location: Cinnamon ferns prefer moist, partially shaded areas. Find a spot in your garden that receives morning or afternoon sun, but is protected from the intense midday sun. If you are planting in a container, ensure it has ample drainage.

2. Prepare the Soil: Cinnamon ferns thrive in organically rich, well-draining soil. Before planting, amend the soil with compost or well-rotted manure to improve its fertility and drainage.

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3. Dig the Hole: Dig a hole that is slightly larger and deeper than the root ball of your cinnamon fern. Gently loosen the roots before placing the plant in the hole.

4. Plant the Fern: Place the root ball in the hole at the same depth it was previously growing. Backfill the hole with soil, firming it gently around the roots to eliminate air pockets.

5. Water Thoroughly: After planting, water the fern thoroughly to settle the soil and ensure good root-to-soil contact. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged, throughout the growing season.

Note: Cinnamon ferns are heavy feeders, so consider applying a balanced fertilizer once every two to three weeks during the growing season to promote healthy growth.

Remember: Cinnamon ferns are native to wetland areas and have a high tolerance for wet soils. Consider incorporating them into rain gardens or other similar landscapes for best results.

Selecting the Right Location

Selecting the Right Location

When it comes to planting and growing cinnamon ferns, selecting the right location is crucial for their overall health and development. Here are some important factors to consider when choosing the best spot for your cinnamon fern:

  • Shade: Cinnamon ferns thrive in partial to full shade. Avoid planting them in areas that receive direct sunlight for extended periods, as this can cause leaf scorching and stunted growth.
  • Moisture: Cinnamon ferns require consistently moist soil. They prefer areas with high humidity, such as near ponds, streams, or in low-lying areas of your garden. Make sure the soil drains well, as standing water can lead to root rot and other issues.
  • Soil Type: Cinnamon ferns prefer acidic, organic-rich soil. They can tolerate a wide range of soil types, including loam, clay, and sand, as long as it is well-draining. If your soil is heavy clay or compacted, consider amending it with organic matter to improve drainage.
  • Space: Cinnamon ferns are large plants that can reach heights of 3 to 5 feet and have a spread of 2 to 3 feet. Give them enough space to grow and spread without competing with other plants.
  • Protection from Wind: Cinnamon ferns have delicate fronds that can easily be damaged by strong winds. Plant them in a location that provides some protection from strong gusts, such as near taller plants or structures.
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By considering these factors and selecting a suitable location, you can create an ideal growing environment for your cinnamon ferns and ensure their long-term success in your garden.


How do I plant cinnamon fern?

To plant a cinnamon fern, first choose a suitable location that receives partial to full shade and has moist, well-drained soil. Dig a hole that is slightly larger than the root ball of the fern and place the fern into the hole, making sure that the crown is level with the soil surface. Backfill the hole with soil, gently firming it around the roots, and water well. Mulch around the base of the fern to help retain moisture.

What are the water requirements for cinnamon fern?

Cinnamon ferns require consistently moist soil, so regular watering is important. They prefer to grow in areas with high humidity, and if the soil dries out too much, the fern may suffer. Water deeply and thoroughly, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings. It’s also beneficial to provide some form of overhead watering to mimic natural rainfall.

How do I propagate cinnamon fern?

Cinnamon ferns can be propagated through division. In early spring or fall, dig up the mature fern and carefully separate the clumps into smaller sections. Each section should have a few healthy fronds and roots. Replant the divisions at the same depth as the original plant, making sure to provide adequate water. Over time, these divisions will grow into new cinnamon ferns.


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I found this article on planting and growing cinnamon ferns really helpful. As a female gardener, I always look for plants that are low-maintenance and can thrive in various conditions. The complete guide provided all the information I needed to successfully grow cinnamon ferns in my garden. The article detailed the specific requirements of the plant, such as partial shade and moist soil, and also mentioned the ideal pH level for optimum growth. I appreciated the step-by-step instructions on planting the fern and the tips on caring for it throughout the year. The detailed description of the cinnamon fern’s unique fronds and the way they unfurl was fascinating to read. It made me even more excited to see this beautiful fern grow in my garden. Overall, this guide was informative and easy to follow, making it a must-read for anyone interested in adding cinnamon ferns to their garden.

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I found this article on planting and growing cinnamon ferns very informative and helpful. As a passionate gardener, I have always been fascinated by ferns and their unique beauty. The article provides a complete guide on how to effectively plant and grow cinnamon ferns, making it easy for beginners like me to get started. I appreciate the detailed instructions on choosing the right location for planting. The article explains that cinnamon ferns prefer moist, shaded areas, making them perfect for creating a lush and vibrant garden oasis. The tips on preparing the soil and creating a suitable environment for the ferns are also valuable. I will definitely incorporate these suggestions when planting my own cinnamon ferns. Another aspect that I found interesting is the information on caring for cinnamon ferns. The article explains that these ferns have specific water and sunlight requirements, and it offers practical advice on meeting these needs. I am glad that the article emphasizes the importance of regular watering and providing enough shade to ensure the ferns thrive. Additionally, the article provides a helpful guide on propagating cinnamon ferns. I am excited to learn that I can easily divide the ferns to create new plants. The step-by-step instructions provided give me the confidence to try propagating them myself. Overall, this article is an excellent resource for anyone interested in planting and growing cinnamon ferns. It covers all the essential aspects from choosing the right location to caring for the ferns. I highly recommend it to fellow gardening enthusiasts looking to add a touch of elegance to their outdoor spaces.

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