Frosty fern is a friendly looking, cute little plant worth trying or giving.


Curiously enough, it is really not a fern, and will die if it gets too frosty (frozen.)

So what is it, really?

A frosty fern is a petite, desktop size plant now 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 plant its frosted appearance.

Although it is not a true fern, calling this plant a fern does give the casual plant hobbyist a good indication of the form and habits of the plant.

Frosty fern is correctly called Selaginella Kraussiana Variegatus.

On first glance, one wonder if 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 spike mosses

in the lycopod group, plants that are closely related to ferns. Guess what?

Spike moss 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.


Spike moss 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.


The frosty fern can be a house plant, but in warmer climates it can be grown outdoors. It prefers a shady location, but can tolerate early morning or late afternoon sun. It should never to be set in full sun.

Please note: this is true only for Southern States, not for any region of Canada.

Some requirements must be met to successfully grow this plant indoors (see below).

The frosty fern loves water. Consequently when it is in active growth it should be watered twice a week. During the winter months when growth slows down watering should be reduced to once a week. The soil should be kept moist, but not soggy. Test the soil’s moisture by inserting a finger about one-to-two inches deep. Always water the plant from the bottom.

This plant grows well in soil that is rich in compost.

If you are looking for a plant suited for a terrarium or a closed-in fairy garden, the frosty fern is an excellent choice,

as it will do well in those enclosed environments.

Use a fertilizer specifically developed for ferns, and always read the directions carefully.  



Pot your frosty fern in a container with drainage holes in the bottom.

Fill the planter pot with rich but well-draining potting soil.

Water your frosty fern twice per week or enough to keep the soil moist

at all times. Keep the fern in a spot away from direct sunlight.

Feed your frosty fern once per week with a diluted, high-nitrogen

fertilizer during the growing season. Always follow the directions on the label.

Keep the air around your frosty fern plant humid by placing the planter pot on top of a drainage dish filled with gravel and water. Ensure that the bottom of the plant container rests on top of the gravel and not in the water.

Did you know that growing a frosty at room temperature will make them lose there white tips and change into green? Don't worry, this is normal.

If you want to keep the white tips on the frosty it have to stay in cold temperature

7-11.5 degrees C (45 - 52 degrees F).  

Select a planting site that is in the shade and has well-draining soil.

Work into the soil some rich organic compost and a handful of coarse

sand when you plant the frosty fern.

Water your frosty fern once each week

during the growing season or more often during dry spells.

Water the fern during the fall and winter only when the soil threatens to dry out.

Fertilize your frosty fern once per month during the growing season.

Feed your frosty fern a high-nitrogen fertilizer

according to the directions on the label.