Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Macho Fern, Giant Sword Fern
Nephrolepis biserrata 'Macho'

Family: Polypodiaceae
Genus: Nephrolepis (nef-roh-LEP-iss) (Info)
Species: biserrata (by-ser-AY-tuh) (Info)
Cultivar: Macho

11 members have or want this plant for trade.


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Provides winter interest

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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By Happenstance
Thumbnail #1 of Nephrolepis biserrata by Happenstance

By Scarlete
Thumbnail #2 of Nephrolepis biserrata by Scarlete

By Scarlete
Thumbnail #3 of Nephrolepis biserrata by Scarlete

By Scarlete
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By DebinSC
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By Flcrinumlady
Thumbnail #7 of Nephrolepis biserrata by Flcrinumlady

There are a total of 14 photos.
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8 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Lycorys On Oct 20, 2011, Lycorys from Lakewood, OH wrote:

I live in Cleveland, Ohio - clearly not a place where I can keep this spectacular fern outdoors year round. However, it makes a wonderful annual in colder zones and is extremely easy to winter over as a houseplant - indirect light and moderate water works great. I picked my first one out of the rubbish three years ago and have divided it twice now. I had fronds nearly 6' long the last 2 summers.

Positive 1940model On Apr 15, 2011, 1940model from Campbellton, TX wrote:

Transplanted my beautiful Macho Fern into a wheel barrel (with holes punched out for drainage). She's huge, easy to move around. Believe it or not, I think she likes "going for a ride".

Positive TropicalPatty On Oct 8, 2010, TropicalPatty from Canyon Lake, TX wrote:

If you want a really Tropical look, the Macho Fern is the one you need. I have one in a 12 inch basket, another in a very large Mexican Clay Pot and 4 other smaller ones in the garden. They are very easy to grown and truly do live up to their name. I live in Zone 8. My ferns are moved to my greenhouse when the temperatures fall below 35 and then moved back out on warmer days in the winter. This year, I plan to leave one in the ground to see if they can survive our mild winters.

Positive mswestover On Nov 4, 2009, mswestover from Yulee, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Planted a couple of them in a flower bed under an oak tree two years ago. The first winter they died back a little; last winter (2009) was a bad one for zone 9a, several freezes, and they died back a lot and I thought they were a goner. Now this year they have come back with a vengence and spreading like crazy. I am dividing them to other spots. Readily available at Lowe's in the fall.

Positive BeachTanned On Apr 14, 2009, BeachTanned from Fort Lauderdale, FL wrote:

This fern, if grown in a rich soil and watered and fertilized regularly, can have fronds of almost six feet, which makes it a spectacular hanging plant. Give it the largest hanging basket you can find and you will be rewarded with lush, cool foliage of classic fern shape. This would be so perfect in a wedding setting. The plant is easily divided and repotted. If allowed to get too dry, will go off color and even lose leaves, but responds well once care is again given. If potted, be sure to use an outward-taper pot. Inward-taper pots will not allow you to remove the rootball without breaking the pot. Grows without much care except for occasional fertilizer and watering in dry seasons in gardens of Ft. Lauderdale. It can be invasive, but that is one of its charms if you have the space in your garden. Full sun to full shade and everything in between.

Positive ava02 On Sep 29, 2008, ava02 from Florence, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

I love this macho fern. It has blessed me for some months now. I so much wish that everyone has the same experience with this fine specimen of a fern as I have.

Positive SudieGoodman On Jan 15, 2005, SudieGoodman from Broaddus, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Southeast, TX, Zone 8b Received rooted cutting of Macho Fern.
Had no culture or name for this beautiful fern. I potted upon receipt, placed in greenhouse two years ago. It is five feet tall & wide.

So happy to learn, from your information, that it is hardy so that I can give it a "Macho" name & plant in flower bed - thanks for this much-need information.

Positive Scarlete On Aug 12, 2004, Scarlete from Tampa, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is absolutely gorgeous in my front yard bedding area. It gets a wee bit of sun in the morning on one side and a wee bit more on the other side in the early afternoon.

The largest of the fronds are about 5 feet long, with the plant having a width of 7 1/2 feet.

It's rhizomes likes to creep along the house and form new plants but I generally like to keep them to one area. Can be invasive, but easy enough to control and keep in one area.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Enterprise, Alabama
Gurley, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
Clayton, California
San Diego, California
Apopka, Florida
Atlantic Beach, Florida
Bartow, Florida
Brandon, Florida
Clearwater, Florida
Clearwater Beach, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Gulf Breeze, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Lehigh Acres, Florida
Maitland, Florida
Miami, Florida
Naples, Florida
North Port, Florida
Palm Coast, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Vero Beach, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Yulee, Florida
Tennille, Georgia
Warner Robins, Georgia
Kihei, Hawaii
Derby, Kansas
Greenwell Springs, Louisiana
Gretna, Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Pollock, Louisiana
Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
Columbia, South Carolina
Florence, South Carolina (2 reports)
Saint Helena Island, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina
Dickson, Tennessee
Hendersonville, Tennessee
Broaddus, Texas
Canyon Lake, Texas
Dripping Springs, Texas
Rosenberg, Texas

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