Western Sword Ferns like the majority of ferns will spread if they are placed in the right growing conditions and left to their own devices. For some people this is fantastic news but for others they see this as a problem, especially if the plants take over other flora in the area.
If you are planting Western Sword Fern in your garden and don’t mind if it ends up covering your land then this isn’t a problem. However you have a responsibility to make sure that it doesn’t spread past your garden and run wild in the surrounding land or other plant life will suffer for it.
We personally love the look of a forest floor covered in ferns but not everyone else does especially if the ferns are creeping into their gardens. With this in mind make sure you cut your ferns back to stop spreading and be aware of any growth occurring outside your garden fence.
If spreading is a problem then can ferns grow in pots? And would it be a good idea to grow them in pots instead to avoid unwanted spreading? Although you’ll most commonly find Western Sword Ferns growing in the Earth they can be grown in pots and do indeed thrive. They may not grow as tall as they would in the wild but if you repot when the fern requires it you should see growth that’s not too dissimilar to if the fern was planted directly into the ground.
One important thing to be aware of is that Western Sword Ferns like pots a bit on the smaller side. They don’t need deep soil to spread their roots and would do much better if you waited a bit longer between repotting.
If spreading isn’t an issue for you but you want to trim your ferns to remove dead fronds then wait until the spring months. Your plant will die back in the winter but the dead fronds can protect the actual plant from wildlife and frost. This will give your plant the best chance of survival. Then in the spring cut the dead fronds away and watch your fern thrive.
So do sword ferns spread? Yes they do. Is this a problem? Not always, but it’s definitely something you need to keep an eye on.