Cutting Back Outdoor Evergreen Ferns for the Season

1 Material
10 Minutes

Are your ferns looking old and tired? I’ll show you how easy it is to cut back your ferns for a fresh new look and an even healthier plant. You can see more of my gardening tips, tricks, and tours HERE.

Ferns are a very common outdoor plant here in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). They can be found in the shade where they thrive.

Ferns have fronds, rather than leaves, which last for only a year or so. The older fronds start to die back and turn brown while the new ones grow in.

Cutting off the old growth will refresh the plant and leave you with only beautiful new fronds.

Cutting Back Your Outdoor Fern

Outdoor evergreen ferns should be cut down every year. Using sharp pruners, cut the fern fronds down to the ground.

Late winter or early spring is the best timing, before the new fronds start to emerge. I usually cut them down sometime in March.

Make every effort not to damage any new fronds when pruning the plant. Once the new fronds start growing in, it will be even harder to cut the old growth out of the plant

Once all of the fronds are cut down, small “curled fist” or “knuckles” start forming at the base of the plant.

Each of those fists will unfurl delicate fronds, forming a fresh new plant.

There is only one drawback to cutting the ferns down to the ground every year. The plant will look pretty ugly for a couple of weeks to a month, depending on when you cut it.

But trust me. It will be worth it in the long run!

Cut back any fronds with pest infestation or disease to the base of the plant throughout the year.

If the entire plant is unhealthy, cut it back to the ground so the disease does not spread.

By cutting your outdoor evergreen ferns to the ground each year, the fronds should look green and healthy all the way through the winter months.

I hope these tips on cutting back your outdoor evergreen ferns have helped.

I would love to have you stop by my blog Shiplap and Shells for more gardening posts.

Until next time,

Happy Gardening!


Resources for this project:
Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Hometalk may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.More info
Shiplap and Shells
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  1 question
  • Lynn Riedl Coffren Lynn Riedl Coffren on Mar 01, 2022

    I have what look like "crowns" in the ground where the ferns grew over the summer. I'm in Maryland, zone 7. Should I cut these crowns all the way to the ground?

Join the conversation
2 of 5 comments
  • Puppers Puppers on Feb 01, 2023

    I live in the PNW also. Because I have so many I use a hedge trimmer and rake up the old fronds. Used to cut with garden clippers but took for ever.

  • Cyndee Cyndee on Feb 03, 2023

    That’s so cool

    never knew