If you have never seen this fern, you have missed out on a visual feast.
Like feathers, a plume of soft sage fans out from petite plum-colored stems on Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum', often referred to as Japanese Painted Fern, Japanese Red Fern or Red Painted Fern.
Unlike any other fern, people say she has pewter, metallic hues, making her one of the showiest ferns available for
Emerging in purple fronds, Japanese Fern's colorful foliage is vibrant from early spring until frost when it goes
for the winter.
very cold hardy (including southern parts of Zone 3!) fern that
with ease with short, branching
Japanese Red Fern is a low-maintenance,
perennial that, when grown in the proper environment, is extremely reliable.
When it comes to environment, Japanese Painted Fern performs best in well-drained, moist (she loves humidity and prefers 2-3 drinks per week but will still look good with less water) soil with 2-3 inches of added organic compost or peat moss.
moderate growth rate
you will find the mature fronds (9-15 inches tall and 5-10 inches broad) hold their color contrasting strikingly with emerging, purple fronds to form a compact
She performs famously as a
plant due to her dwarf nature.
In southern areas, a few hours of morning sun will bring out her highest colors.
In northern areas, she can be exposed to more morning sun without sun-burning.
Colors are more intense in the spring, in cooler temperatures, or in cooler climates.
Japanese Painted Fern is a
plant with a
of fronds with 6-10 pairs of spore-bearing
(1 to 4 inches long and 1 inch broad) growing from its
All technical information aside, this is a regal matriarch of the ferns with the vein of vivid purple running through her silvery, sage foliage.
Things to Note
This plant is available for
20% off when purchased with Cinnamon (Osmunda cinnamomea) Ferns
If planting in
check with your local extension
to confirm winter hardiness in your area.
Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum' was named the 2004 Perennial Plant of the Year.
Some also refer to this as the Japanese Lady Fern, but that is incorrect.
Athyrium niponicum is native to East Asia in Japan, northern China, Korea and Taiwan.
Japanese Painted Fern offers a beautiful contrast to other shade-loving perennials such as
Japanese Red Fern will not do as well if you allow her soil to dry out, so try for regular watering when you select her location if you ant her to look her best.
If you trim her fronds to the ground in late fall or early spring it will be easier for her to emerge in spring and look her best.
This is a wonderful perennial for dividing as clumps can grow up to two feet wide, making early spring division every 3-4 years a breeze.