Japanese Painted Fern
All of the Beauty, None of the Bother
If your thoughts of ferns bring to mind only green plants, you can paint a different mental image with the Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum). Earning the coveted Perennial Plant Association’s Award in 2004, Japanese Painted Fern outshone the competition because of its strikingly colorful stems and fronds. Brushed with metallic shades of silver, blue and burgundy, Japanese Painted Fern’s foliage contrasts with reddish stems for a color combination that’s unrivaled in the garden.
Triple the Impact
1. Color. If you never thought of using a foliage plant (instead of a flowering plant) to add color to your shade garden, Japanese Painted Fern gives you a new design option!
2. Rabbit- and deer-resistant. Many garden plants in rural areas suffer damage from hungry deer and rabbits, but Japanese Painted Fern is not a favorite for these visitors.
3. Heat-resistant. Summer heat – even in the shade – can damage other ferns and cause them to crisp and turn brown. Japanese Painted Fern is heat-resistant, which means the fronds keep their unusual coloration from spring through fall.
A Shady Character for Your Garden
Under shade, many plants are hard to see against brown tree trunks, brown soil and green groundcovers. But Japanese Painted Fern stands out against this typically drab landscape with its silvery, shimmering leaves. Use plants to brighten a shady border garden by spacing individually or grouping in clumps of three plants. Plant Japanese Painted Fern as a groundcover under trees or as an edging to a walkway through a woodland garden. In pots, Japanese Painted Fern is a superior container plant.
Japanese Painted Fern is a deciduous plant that will grow into a clump without becoming invasive. Simple care tips include:
• Sun. Keep these ferns out of direct sun, which can burn their fronds. As an understory plant, filtered sunlight through the canopies of taller plants is ideal.
• Soil. Japanese Painted Ferns prosper in moist, humus-rich soils that are well amended with organic matter.
• Water. Water plants regularly to maintain consistently moist soil.
• Fertilizer. Fertilize during the growing season with an all-purpose fertilizer to keep the plants healthy and the colors vibrant.
• Pruning. You won’t need to groom plants during the summer, but cut and remove the dead foliage after it dies in fall.