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Cliff ferns are a little unique in that they tend to grow in drier areas than many ferns. These little guys grow on rocky slopes and cliff walls in tight little clumps, so you might consider them for a rock garden or for spaces in a retaining wall. They are adorable, compact, and a vivid light green. 


Dry for a fern is not 'xeric planting' dry, so don't put this guy in your 'hell strip' by the sidewalk and expect him to flourish. I find they enjoy all shade or morning sun/afternoon shade, and as long as the soil is well drained they will happily enjoy all the water that comes their way.


When conditions do dry down, they go dormant. Some might consider that cheating for a 'low water' garden plant, but hey. The leaves die back completely and emerge with renewed vigor in early spring. The sunnier the spot, the earlier they tend to go dormant.

western cliff fern

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  • Woodsia oregana

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