Ceratopteris pteridoides

Common Name: water fern 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Pteridaceae
Native Range: Tropical America
Zone: 9 to 11
Height: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Water Plant, Rain Garden


This aquatic fern is winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-11. In the St. Louis area, it must be grown as an annual or overwintered indoors in bright light in an aquarium whose waters are at least 65F degrees. Set this fern out on still water. It grows free-floating on the water surface with a mass of roots underneath or it may root in the shallow muddy margins of a water body. Best grown in part shade.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ceratopteris pteridioides, commonly called floating fern or water fern, is an aquatic, rosette-forming, pan-tropical, short-lived perennial that is noted for its deeply cut and serrated leaves that somewhat resemble Italian parsley. The larger fertile fronds are deeply cut and serrated, typically growing somewhat erect to 16” long. The pinnately-lobed, more leaf-like, sterile fronds grow to 8” long and float. Non-flowering. Typically grows from Florida to Brazil.

Genus name comes from the Greek words keras meaning a horn and pteris meaning a fern for the horned look of the plant.

Specific epithet means resembling the genus Pteris.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Water gardens or ponds.