The Polystichum Polyblepharum (Tassel Fern) Full Care Guide

The Tassel Fern, otherwise known as the Polystichum Polyblepharum or Japanese Lace Fern, Japanese Tassel Fern, Tassel Fern, Bristle Fern, Korean Tassel Fern, Polystichum setosum, is a rather well known fern plant by gardening enthusiasts around the world.

Best known for its low maintenance and slow growth, this fern will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its green colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

Fortunately, taking care of your Tassel Fern is not too difficult – as long as you follow our guidelines in this Tassel Fern Care Guide. Now let’s get started.

The basic care guidelines you need to remember for your Tassel Fern are the following:

  • Water: The Tassel Fern prefers constant watering each week and more during the hot season.
  • Light: Keep your Polystichum Polyblepharum in an environment where it can receive full to partial shade on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Tassel Fern in soil with well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of sand, chalk, and loam.

And as with many other plants, these are the only three care factors you need to remember to make sure your Tassel Fern is, for the most part, healthy and well to survive.

Tassel Fern plants

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Tassel Fern belongs to the Polypodiaceae family, the genus Polystichum and the species Polyblepharum, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Polystichum Polyblepharum (pol-LIST-ik-um pol-ee-BLEF-ar-um).

As with other Polystichum’s, the Tassel Fern is a herbaceous plant, which means it will die back to the ground every year. 

Growing Region

The Tassel FernChina and South Korea and Japan.

You might be wondering why your Tassel Fern’s native region is important. Well, if you know where your plant originally came from, you’ll know which environment conditions it prefers, and with it, knowledge on how to replicate it at home.

With this in mind, the Polystichum Polyblepharum will be most used to the heat zones in the 5 – 8 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a and the ideal climate zone is between 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24.

Growth and Size


In terms of size and growth, the Tassel Fern is a relatively slow grower, which makes things easy for any plant enthusiast.


But what exactly does this mean for your Tassel Fern? How large a pot should you consider, how tall, how wide can it get? Let’s jump in…

The Polystichum Polyblepharum can grow up to 2′ – 3′ (60cm – 90cm) in 2′ – 3′ (60cm – 90cm) and 2′ – 3′ (60cm – 90cm) in 2′ – 3′ (60cm – 90cm). 

These dimensions make the Tassel Fern a relatively medium fern compared to others, so it’s best to keep this fact in mind since it will affect where you want to keep yours at home.

This is why experts recommend keeping an area of approximately 36″ (90cm) free so the Tassel Fern can spread to its best extent.


In terms of watering, the Tassel Fern is a fairly simple plant to take care of.

This is mostly because it has a straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Polystichum Polyblepharum prefers constant watering each week and more during the hot season.

Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively average needs in terms of water. 

Tassel Fern small leaves


As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Tassel Fern in soil with well-draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

But, if you want a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to watering your Tassel Fern then you should consider the famous ‘finger’ test. To perform this test, you just need to put your finger in your plant’s soil and determine if it’s moist or not. If it is, then don’t water; if it isn’t, then please do. In any case, this test will allow you to know if your Tassel Fern needs or does not need water, every time.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Tassel Fern prefers to have soil with good drainage properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of sand, chalk, and loam.

This is why most experts agree that the Tassel Fern requires soil with high organic matter, and loam (silt), which will give you the right conditions it needs.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably alkaline, acid or neutral soil.

Light and Exposure

In terms of light & exposure, the Tassel Fern requires full to partial shade in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this fern will do well as long as you keep it in partial sun to shade, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Polystichum Polyblepharum in from full or deep shade (no direct sunlight or at most 2 hours per day), to little to partial shade (only 2-6 hours of direct sunlight a day).


Being a herbaceous plant, the Tassel Fern will die back to the ground every year. 

But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (early, mid, late), the summer (early, mid, late), the fall, and during the winter.


The leaves from the Tassel Fern have a beautiful green color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a compound (pinnately, bipinnately, palmately) and fronds arrangement with a rosulate organization in its leaves.

You can expect the leaves from your Polystichum Polyblepharum to be around (> 6 inches) in size.

Tassel Fern stem

Attracts, Tolerance and Resistance

The Tassel Fern is well known for its tolerance to animals like rabbit and deer, so don’t worry if any of these come along, your Polystichum Polyblepharum will be fine.


Does your Tassel Fern have any garden recommendations? Does it serve any gardening purposes? Here’s how you can get the most out of your new plant.

Most Polystichum Polyblepharum owners agree that this fern will look great in most cottage and rustic gardens of all types. 

Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of informal and cottage, city and courtyard, gravel and rock garden, and in traditional garden styles. 

In particular, the Tassel Fern’s best location within your garden is in patio and containers, beds and borders, and in underplanting roses and shrubs, others use it for landscaping in a urban garden, rock garden, mass planting, ground cover, erosion control, container, border, or a woodland garden.

Companion Plants

Tassel Fern’s do well with some other plants beside it. One good companion plant is the Heuchera, which will pair up nicely with your leafy friend.

Others consider that a nice Pulmonaria will work well too, so choose whichever you find works best for you!


And we’ve come to an end. Fortunately, that’s everything you need to know about your Tassel Fern to keep it safe and sound in your garden or home. Enjoy planting!

Martin Duran

Hey y'all! My name is Martin Duran and I am from Cali, Colombia. Since 2018 I have been learning about plants and how to take care of them. Here's is my journey... “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

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