The selection of winter seasonal plants has grown by at least one. Frosty fern is a petite, desktop size plant now popping up among the usual Christmas cacti and myriad Poinsettias. 'Frosty Fern' is a delicate, lacey thing just few inches tall. Its fronds have creamy white naturally 'frosted' edges.The newest leaves are pale and grow at the edges of the branchlets. This gives the frosted appearance to the plant.

Frosty fern is a soft, friendly looking little guy. I spotted it last year and again this, tucked into the tables of the usual winter gift plants. Its small, dense "fronds" remind me of the rich woodlands populated by its cousins, the true ferns and club mosses. Frosty fern is not a true fern. The cultivar or common name rankles some purists who yearn to teach the general public about correct botanical nomenclature. But calling this plant a fern does give the casual plant hobbyist a good indication of the form and habits of the plant.

Care of Frosty Fern indoors

Frosty fern is no harder to care for than other winter seasonal plants . Water frequently to keep the soil moist. This plant, in nature, dwells on shaded, moist forest floors. Like all other houseplants, though, do not let it sit in a puddle.The chief complaint of indoor frosty ferns is the dry air of many homes and workplaces. Frosty fern likes high humidity. Overly dry air will cause the frond to dessicate and curl. Do give Frosty any help you can in boosting humidity. A windowsill in a well used bathroom would be to its liking. A terrarium or glass case is ideal for this plant. Lacking these, group Frosty between other plants. It'll appreciate their shared moist exhalations and doesn't mind low light.

Keep the soil moist, and it should look happy just as long as your paperwhites, Poinsettias and Christmas cacti and Amaryllis. However, recognizing that many people discard those traditional holiday plants within a few weeks, you may d so with the inexpensive and possibly fussy Frosty. No judgement from me!

It is really a Selaginella, but what is that?

Frosty fern is correctly called Selaginella kraussiana. On first glance, one might think it is a small fern, a type of moss, or even some sort of immature woody evergreen. Selaginella is the genus of plants known as spikemosses, plants closely related to ferns. And spikemoss is not true moss either. While we're at it, let's clarify that frosty fern is not a baby cedar either, despite the small branches covered with scale-like leaves similar to those on cedar. Spikemoss has roots (moss does not,) leaves with only one vein (ferns have true leaves with a network of veins,) and reproduce by spores (cedar makes true seeds.) This species is native to parts of Africa and nearby islands.

Using Frosty Fern outdoors... or not

Should your Frosty make it to spring in tip top shape, you might consider taking it outside. The Royal Horticultural Society granted an Award of Garden Merit to this plant. Their growing tips suggest that use of this plant in the garden was a significant part of their judgement. The spikemoss' bright green, frosted fronds would cheerfully brighten a very shady moist garden. Indeed, this little plant can be used as a perennial in gardens of about zone 6 and warmer. Selaginella is evergreen except in the coldest of those areas. Unfortunately, Krauss' spikemoss has become invasive in New Zealand and naturalized in many other areas.. With that in mind, one might better seek out local native perennial evergreens.