Step-by-Step Guide: How to Plant and Grow Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis)

Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis) is a beautiful and majestic plant that can add a touch of elegance to any garden or landscape. With its large, feathery fronds and vibrant green color, the Royal Fern is sure to be a showstopper. But planting and growing this fern species can be a bit tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s why we’ve put together this step-by-step guide to help you successfully grow Royal Fern in your own garden.

Step 1: Choosing the Right Location

The first step in planting Royal Fern is to find the perfect spot in your garden. Royal Ferns thrive in moist, shady areas, so look for a spot that receives partial to full shade throughout the day. Avoid areas with direct sunlight, as this can scorch the delicate fronds. Additionally, make sure the soil in the chosen location is well-draining but retains moisture, as Royal Ferns require consistent moisture to thrive.

Step 2: Preparing the Soil

Once you’ve found the ideal location, it’s time to prepare the soil. Royal Ferns prefer soil that is rich in organic matter, so amend the soil with compost or well-rotted manure to improve its fertility and moisture-retention abilities. Mix the organic matter into the top 6-8 inches of soil, ensuring it is evenly distributed. This will create a nutrient-rich environment that will support healthy fern growth.

Step 3: Planting the Fern

Now that your soil is ready, it’s time to plant the Royal Fern. Dig a hole that is slightly larger and deeper than the root ball of the fern. Place the fern in the hole, making sure the crown (where the roots meet the foliage) is level with the soil surface. Backfill the hole with soil, gently firming it around the roots to remove any air pockets. Water the fern thoroughly after planting to settle the soil and provide initial moisture to the roots.

Step 4: Providing Care and Maintenance

After planting, it’s important to provide proper care and maintenance to ensure the health and vitality of your Royal Fern. Water the fern regularly, keeping the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Mulching around the base of the plant can help to retain moisture and suppress weeds. Additionally, consider fertilizing the fern with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in spring to promote healthy growth.

Step 5: Enjoying the Beauty of Royal Fern

With the right conditions and proper care, your Royal Fern will continue to grow and thrive, adding grace and beauty to your garden for years to come. Take the time to observe and appreciate the fern’s lush fronds and intricate texture. Whether planted as a focal point or as part of a larger landscape, the Royal Fern is sure to make a statement and impress all who see it.

Remember, growing Royal Fern requires patience and attention to detail. By following these steps and providing the necessary care, you can create a stunning display of this timeless and regal plant in your own garden.

Choosing the Right Location

When choosing a location to plant your royal fern, it is important to consider the specific requirements of this plant. Royal ferns thrive in partial to full shade, so look for a spot in your garden that receives filtered sunlight throughout the day.

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Consider Soil Conditions

Consider Soil Conditions

Royal ferns prefer moist, well-draining soil. They can tolerate slightly acidic to neutral soil pH levels. Before planting, check the condition of your soil. If it is heavy clay or sandy, consider amending it with organic matter such as compost or peat moss to improve its drainage and moisture-retaining capacity.

Take Note of Moisture Levels

As mentioned earlier, royal ferns prefer moist soil. If you live in an area with heavy rainfall, make sure that the planting location does not become waterlogged, as excessive moisture can cause root rot. On the other hand, if you live in a drier region, you may need to provide additional water to keep the soil consistently moist.

Light Soil pH Moisture
Partial to full shade Slightly acidic to neutral Moist, well-draining

By choosing the right location, you will create optimal conditions for your royal fern to thrive and grow into a beautiful addition to your garden.

Preparing the Soil

Preparing the Soil

Before planting your royal fern, it is important to prepare the soil to ensure optimal growth. Here are the steps to prepare the soil:

1. Choose the right location: Royal ferns prefer shady areas with moist, well-drained soil. Find a spot in your garden that receives dappled sunlight or partial shade throughout the day.

2. Clear the area: Remove any weeds, rocks, or debris from the planting area. Royal ferns have a shallow root system, so you want to make sure there are no obstructions that could impede their growth.

3. Loosen the soil: Use a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil in the planting area. This will improve drainage and allow the fern’s roots to penetrate more easily.

4. Amend the soil: Royal ferns thrive in moist soil that is rich in organic matter. Add well-rotted compost or peat moss to the planting area and mix it thoroughly with the native soil. This will improve the soil’s fertility and moisture retention capacity.

5. Test the soil: It is a good idea to test the soil’s pH level before planting. Royal ferns prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. If the soil is too acidic or alkaline, you can amend it with lime or sulfur to achieve the desired pH level.

6. Water the soil: Before planting, thoroughly water the soil to ensure it is evenly moist. This will provide a good environment for the fern’s roots to establish themselves.

By following these steps to prepare the soil, you will create an ideal growing environment for your royal ferns. This will help them to thrive and reward you with their beautiful foliage.

Selecting and Planting Royal Fern

Selecting and Planting Royal Fern

When selecting a location for your royal fern, keep in mind that it prefers a moist and shady environment. Look for an area in your garden that receives partial shade throughout the day and has well-draining soil.

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Before planting the royal fern, prepare the soil by removing any weeds or grass and loosening it with a garden fork or tiller. This will help the roots establish themselves more easily.

It’s important to choose a healthy royal fern plant from a reputable nursery or garden center. Look for bright green fronds and avoid any plants with yellow or wilted leaves.

When planting, dig a hole that is twice as wide and deep as the fern’s root ball. Place the fern in the hole, making sure that the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Backfill the hole with soil, gently firming it around the roots to eliminate any air pockets.

After planting, water the fern thoroughly to settle the soil and ensure that the roots make good contact with the surrounding soil. Maintain a consistent watering schedule to keep the soil evenly moist, but not waterlogged.

In order to protect the young fern from harsh weather conditions, you can apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant. This will help retain moisture and keep the roots cool during hot summer months.

Remember to regularly monitor the growth and health of your royal fern. If necessary, you can divide the plant every few years to promote healthier growth.

By following these steps, you can successfully select and plant a royal fern in your garden. Enjoy the beauty and elegance this fern brings to your outdoor space!

Watering and Fertilizing

Watering and Fertilizing

Proper watering and fertilizing are crucial for the healthy growth of Royal Fern plants. Follow these guidelines to ensure your fern thrives:



Royal Ferns prefer consistently moist soil, so it’s important to keep the soil damp but not waterlogged. Check the moisture level of the soil by inserting your finger about an inch deep. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water.

Water your ferns in the morning or evening to minimize evaporation and water stress. Avoid watering during the hottest parts of the day to prevent the leaves from scorching.

When watering, aim to thoroughly moisten the entire root zone. Water slowly and deeply to allow the water to penetrate the soil and reach the roots. Avoid shallow watering, as it can encourage shallow root growth and make the plant more susceptible to drought.



Royal Ferns benefit from regular fertilization to ensure optimal growth and foliage color. Use a balanced water-soluble fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

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Start fertilizing in the spring when new growth appears. Apply the fertilizer according to the instructions on the package, and remember to always dilute it to the recommended strength. Over-fertilization can cause leaf burn and other issues.

During the growing season, fertilize your Royal Ferns every 4-6 weeks. Stop fertilizing in late summer to allow the plants to enter a period of dormancy. Resume fertilizing in spring when new growth emerges.

Remember to water your ferns after fertilizing to help the nutrients reach the roots. Avoid applying fertilizer to dry soil, as it can burn the roots.

With consistent watering and appropriate fertilization, your Royal Ferns will thrive and provide you with beautiful foliage for years to come.

Maintaining and Pruning Royal Fern

Maintaining and Pruning Royal Fern

Maintaining a healthy and vibrant royal fern is essential to ensure its growth and appearance. Here are a few tips to help you maintain and prune your royal fern:

1. Provide Adequate Water

1. Provide Adequate Water

Royal ferns require consistent and adequate moisture to thrive. Keep the soil evenly moist, but not waterlogged. It is recommended to water deeply and thoroughly to encourage deep root growth. During hot and dry periods, you may need to water more frequently.

2. Mulch around the Base

2. Mulch around the Base

Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the royal fern can help retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth. Use a 2- to 3-inch layer of bark mulch or compost, being careful not to bury the crown of the fern.

3. Fertilize Regularly

3. Fertilize Regularly

Provide your royal fern with nutrients by applying a balanced slow-release fertilizer in the spring or early summer. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging for application rates and frequency. Avoid over-fertilization, as this can lead to excessive growth and weak foliage.

4. Prune Dead or Damaged Fronds

4. Prune Dead or Damaged Fronds

Inspect your royal fern regularly and remove any dead or damaged fronds. Use clean, sharp pruning shears or scissors to gently cut the fronds as close to the base as possible. This will improve the plant’s appearance and promote healthier growth.

5. Divide Overgrown Plants

5. Divide Overgrown Plants

If your royal fern becomes overcrowded or shows signs of decline, it may be necessary to divide the plant. Dig up the entire fern clump and carefully separate it into smaller sections, making sure each section has several healthy fronds and a portion of the rhizome. Replant the divisions in a suitable location, ensuring they have enough space to grow.

By following these maintenance and pruning practices, you can enjoy a beautiful and thriving royal fern in your garden.


What are the optimal conditions for growing Royal Fern?

Royal Fern thrives in partially shaded areas with consistently moist soil. It prefers soil rich in organic matter.

How do you plant Royal Fern?

To plant Royal Fern, dig a hole that is twice as wide and just as deep as the plant’s root ball. Place the root ball in the hole and backfill with soil, making sure to firm it gently. Water the fern thoroughly after planting.

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How long does it take for Royal Fern to grow?

Royal Fern is a slow-growing plant, and it can take several years for it to reach its full size. However, you may start to see some growth and new fronds appearing within the first year of planting.


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James Smith

I found this step-by-step guide on how to plant and grow royal ferns (Osmunda regalis) very informative and helpful. As a beginner gardener, I always need detailed instructions, and this article provided just that. The article starts by explaining the characteristics and benefits of royal ferns, which piqued my interest right away. I learned that these ferns are not only beautiful but also highly adaptable and resistant to pests and diseases. This makes them a great choice for someone like me, who wants low-maintenance plants in their garden. The step-by-step instructions were easy to follow and included all the necessary details. I liked that the article emphasized the importance of choosing the right location for planting, as royal ferns prefer partial shade and moist soil. This helped me avoid any mistakes and ensure the best conditions for my ferns’ growth. The guide also discussed the planting process in detail, from preparing the soil to digging the hole and placing the ferns. I appreciated the advice on spacing, as it helped me visualize how many plants I could fit in my garden. The instructions on watering, mulching, and fertilizing were clear and concise, which made me feel confident about maintaining my royal ferns properly. What I found particularly useful were the tips on dealing with potential problems, such as pests and diseases. The article explained the signs to look out for and provided organic solutions to combat these issues. This gave me peace of mind knowing that I have the necessary knowledge to address any challenges that may arise. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article and found it to be a valuable resource for anyone looking to plant and grow royal ferns. The step-by-step instructions, accompanied by helpful tips and advice, made me feel confident in my ability to successfully cultivate these beautiful plants. I appreciate the thoroughness of the guide and will definitely refer back to it throughout my gardening journey.


Wow, this step-by-step guide on planting and growing the Royal Fern is incredibly helpful! As a gardening enthusiast, I’ve always wanted to add this majestic plant to my collection. Firstly, I appreciated the detailed information on the ideal location for planting the Royal Fern. The fact that it prefers a partially shaded area with moist, acidic soil is essential to know. This ensures that I can provide the best conditions for its growth and overall health. The guide also highlights the importance of preparing the soil before planting. I learned that adding organic matter, such as compost or peat moss, will enhance the soil’s fertility and provide necessary nutrients for the fern. I found the step-by-step instructions for planting and caring for the Royal Fern extremely clear. From digging a properly sized hole to placing the fern’s rhizome at the right depth, I feel confident in carrying out each stage. Regular watering and mulching to retain moisture were also emphasized, which is essential for the fern’s optimal growth. The maintenance section of the guide was particularly valuable. Learning about the need to regularly check for pests and diseases will allow me to proactively protect my Royal Fern against any potential threats. Additionally, the guide provided helpful tips on dividing and propagating the fern, which will allow me to expand my collection or share it with fellow gardening enthusiasts. Overall, this step-by-step guide has equipped me with the knowledge and confidence I need to successfully plant and grow the Royal Fern. I can’t wait to see this majestic plant thrive in my garden, adding a touch of elegance and natural beauty to the landscape.

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I absolutely love this step-by-step guide on how to plant and grow Royal Fern! As a gardening enthusiast, I have always been fascinated by these beautiful and elegant plants. The author provides clear and concise instructions that are easy to follow, even for beginners like me. The article starts by introducing the Royal Fern and explaining its unique characteristics. I appreciate how the author emphasizes the importance of choosing the right location for the fern, as it requires partial shade to thrive. This information is crucial for anyone looking to cultivate this plant in their garden. The step-by-step instructions provided in the article are truly valuable. From preparing the soil to transplanting the fern, each stage is thoroughly explained with helpful tips and tricks along the way. I especially found the advice on watering and fertilizing the fern very useful. It’s great to know that Royal Fern requires consistent moisture to ensure its growth and development. One aspect I particularly enjoyed about this guide is the inclusion of beautiful images. They not only complement the text but also provide visual references for each step. Seeing the fern in different stages of growth helps me visualize the process and motivates me to try it out in my own garden. Overall, this article is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in planting and growing Royal Fern. The author’s expertise and passion for gardening shine through the well-written content and practical advice. I cannot wait to follow these steps and see my own Royal Fern flourish in my garden. Thank you for sharing this amazing guide!

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