Guide to low-maintenance gardening

From low-water plants to simple projects, our guide to easy gardening will make a green thumb out of anyone

Best ferns for a low-water garden

These luxuriant ferns don’t need to drink a lot to be happy. Get our tips on the best types to plant and how to care for them

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Western sword fern
Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Janet Kinosian

Western sword fern

Species: Polystichum munitum

Found in: Coastal forests from Alaska to California.  

Grows to: 5 feet tall during wet years, 1 foot tall in drought years. Evergreen.

Why this fern? A mature plant can produce up to 100 dark green fronds, which creates a woodsy feeling all year.

Sunset climate zones: A3; 2–9, 14–24

More: All about Polystichum munitum

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