Athyrium niponicum Pictum
Athyrium niponicum Pictum photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

Japanese Painted Fern

Japanese Painted Ferns are the best known and most colourful ferns for the garden. The silvery grey fronds are dusty purple toward the center with purplish red veins and stems. This fern has a low mounding habit and spreads slowly by underground stems.

  • Height: 30 - 46 cm (12 - 18 in)
  • Spread: 51 - 61 cm (20 - 24 in)
  • Cold Hardiness: Zone 3
  • Sun or Shade: partial shade
  • Bloom Time: grown only for foliage
  • Leaf Colour: silvery-grey
  • Bloom Colour: does not flower
  • Critter Resistance: rabbits

Growing and Maintenance Tips

Painted Ferns are easy to grow in humusy, organically rich soil that is evenly moist. The prefer a neutral to moderately acidic soil. The soil should not be allowed to dry out throughout the growing season. Some early morning or late afternoon sun is required to bring out the foliage colours. Leave the old foliage on the plant to protect the crowns over the winter. Remove them in the spring as the new fronds begin to sprout. Division is seldom required but, if necessary, can be done in the spring.