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Japanese Painted Fern

Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum'

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Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum') at Ashcombe Farm & Greenhouses

Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum' foliage

Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum' foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  18 inches

Spread:  24 inches

Sunlight:  partial shade  full shade 

Hardiness Zone:  3a

Other Names:  Crested Japanese Painted Fern

Ornamental Features

Japanese Painted Fern's attractive ferny bipinnately compound leaves emerge indian red in spring, turning olive green in color with showy silver variegation throughout the season. Neither the flowers nor the fruit are ornamentally significant. The burgundy stems are very colorful and add to the overall interest of the plant.

Landscape Attributes

Japanese Painted Fern is a dense herbaceous fern with a shapely form and gracefully arching fronds. It brings an extremely fine and delicate texture to the garden composition and should be used to full effect.

This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and usually looks its best without pruning, although it will tolerate pruning. Deer don't particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Japanese Painted Fern is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Mass Planting
  • Border Edging
  • General Garden Use
  • Groundcover
  • Naturalizing And Woodland Gardens

Planting & Growing

Japanese Painted Fern will grow to be about 18 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 24 inches. Its foliage tends to remain dense right to the ground, not requiring facer plants in front. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 15 years.

This plant does best in partial shade to shade. It prefers to grow in moist to wet soil, and will even tolerate some standing water. It is particular about its soil conditions, with a strong preference for rich, acidic soils. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution, and will benefit from being planted in a relatively sheltered location. Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone over the growing season to conserve soil moisture. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America, and parts of it are known to be toxic to humans and animals, so care should be exercised in planting it around children and pets. It can be propagated by division; however, as a cultivated variety, be aware that it may be subject to certain restrictions or prohibitions on propagation.

 
 
Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight Soil pH Preference
Characteristics
Massing  Edging  Garden  Groundcover  Naturalizing 
Applications
Foliage Color  Texture  Plant Form  Bark 
Ornamental Features