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PlantFiles: Lady Fern
Athyrium filix-femina

Family: Dryopteridaceae
Genus: Athyrium (uh-THEE-ree-um) (Info)
Species: filix-femina (FY-liks fem-in-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Aspidium angustum
Synonym:Athyrium angustum
Synonym:Polypodium filix-femina

11 vendors have this plant for sale.

30 members have or want this plant for trade.

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12-18 in. (30-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Partial to Full Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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By Joy
Thumbnail #1 of Athyrium filix-femina by Joy

By hczone6
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By hczone6
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By kennedyh
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By janedoe
Thumbnail #6 of Athyrium filix-femina by janedoe

By KennethJoerg
Thumbnail #7 of Athyrium filix-femina by KennethJoerg

There are a total of 16 photos.
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11 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Rickwebb On Feb 3, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

This could be the most commonly sold fern at garden centers in the Midwest and East of the USA. It is reliable and is the "typical" kind of fern with bipinnate fronds. It has very soft, light weight fronds that bear the sori, the spore holding structures, under the leaflets, looking like brown curved or horseshoe-shaped forms. The planted clump slowly expands to become a spreading colony.

Positive beanboy83 On Feb 21, 2012, beanboy83 from Battle Ground, WA wrote:

Elegant, reliable fern that handles wet, boggy, hard clay conditions well. They look superb when back-lit. In areas around my home these reach 4 feet tall or more.

Positive Val1020 On Aug 10, 2009, Val1020 from Syracuse, NY (Zone 5b) wrote:

I originally bought this plant for a garden in the shade of an old maple tree. It did marginally well, returning each year. We lost the tree in a storm, but I didnt transplant the fern. Each year since then the fern, now growing in full sun, has multiplied. This year I transplanted some from a spot in the garden among the cosmos to a shady spot. Its doing OK but the plant in the sun is doing much better!

Neutral Xenomorf On Aug 8, 2009, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

Not an evergreen, this ferns' fronds form a vase-shaped, circular cluster. It grows to about 3 ft. tall by 8" wide in shaded areas along springs and streams in rich soil at about 7000-9500 ft elevation in Arizona.

Positive Malus2006 On Jul 29, 2009, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

There are many other fern species that will tolerate drier conditions.

Lady fern is a slow speader in the short rhizome fern type. Grows to about 2 feet in height, 1 feet if stressed.

Positive frostweed On Dec 2, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Lady fern Athyrium filix-femina is native to Texas and other States.

Positive sanity101 On Aug 30, 2005, sanity101 from Dublin, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

One of the better ferns for this area, has attractive lacy foliage, and tall, arched habit. Does need to be well-watered in order to thrive.

Positive sterhill On Jul 18, 2005, sterhill from Atlanta, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Atlanta - will take quite a bit of sun and spreads well. I don't water them very much. These ferns are shallow rooted and easily moved or divided. Best done in early spring before they get too big though. I have them with lilies growing through them. Very pretty ferns!

Positive melody On Nov 30, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

One of the most beautiful wild ferns in our area. It can be found along shady creek banks or along sunny roadsides.

I transplanted some to a shady flowerbed where my Mom could get nothing to grow for years. This was over 30 years ago, and they are still in that flowerbed and look lovely to this day. They are thick and lush...partially because the run-off from the air conditioning unit keeps the ground quite moist there.

Just a wonderful all around hardy fern that settles in and makes itself at home without becoming invasive.

Positive KennethJoerg On Nov 3, 2004, KennethJoerg wrote:

One of the easiest ferns to grow. Extremely hardy and capable of handling quite a bit of sun, even moderate draught. Should it become too dry, it will die back but return next year. Very handsome and a very tough plant.

Positive lmelling On Oct 20, 2004, lmelling from Ithaca, NY (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have used lady fern in several locations around my backyard, the largest as a specimen that does wonderfully in the rocks surrounding our pond.

This fern will take full sun here in zone 5, as long as there is adequate moisture, and should grow quickly over the course of several years. It requires virtually no care once established. I simply cut down the dead fronds in late fall and look for them to spring to life next May. Of all the ferns cultivars I have, lady fern is perhaps the most enjoyable.

Positive SueP64 On Aug 6, 2003, SueP64 from Centerbrook, CT wrote:

Grows wild in my area. Does well in heavy soils. Tolerates full sun. Self sows readily and spreads by rhizome. Grows to full size quickly. Mixes well with hosta.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 31, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Easily grown in rich, medium wet, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade. Tolerates drier soils than many other ferns. Will tolerate full sun, however, only if soil is kept constantly moist. Shelter from wind to protect fronds from breaking. Divide clumps in spring every few years to reposition crowns at the soil level.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Auburn, Alabama
Gadsden, Alabama
Pelham, Alabama
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Juneau, Alaska
Centerbrook, Connecticut
Cordele, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Evanston, Illinois
Plainfield, Illinois
Washington, Illinois
Hobart, Indiana
Jeffersonville, Indiana
Benton, Kentucky
Hebron, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Mc Dowell, Kentucky
Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Lexington, Massachusetts
Owosso, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Lincoln, Nebraska
Morristown, New Jersey
Whitehouse Station, New Jersey
Brooklyn, New York
Fishkill, New York
Ithaca, New York
Syracuse, New York
Pittsboro, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Coshocton, Ohio
Dublin, Ohio
Portland, Oregon
South Beach, Oregon
Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Leola, Pennsylvania
Norristown, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Conway, South Carolina
Arlington, Tennessee
Leesburg, Virginia
Lexington, Virginia
Newport News, Virginia
Battle Ground, Washington
Kalama, Washington
Muscoda, Wisconsin
Sheridan, Wyoming

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