Southern Shield Fern
Ferns are stunning plants for shade gardens, and Southern shield fern is no exception. This Florida native goes by several other names, including Southern wood fern and Kunth's maiden fern.
The tall, triangular fronds emerge in spring, growing three to four feet tall. Throughout summer, the light green foliage plays well off of other shade-lovers like cast iron plant. Then in fall, the fronds turn a rich bronze.
Because it forms clumps and spreads over time, Southern shield fern works well as a groundcover, though it may need some taming to keep it in bounds.
This versatile fern appreciates moist soils but also has good drought tolerance. It's even deer resistant, making it great for gardeners who struggle to find plants that deer won't eat.