PlantFiles: Japanese Painted Fern Athyrium niponicum var. pictum
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Hardiness: 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) USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F) USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
Sun Exposure: Partial to Full Shade
Bloom Color: Inconspicuous/none
Bloom Time: N/A
Foliage: Grown for foliage Silver/Gray
Other details: Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Soil pH requirements: 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic) 6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
Patent Information: Non-patented
Propagation Methods: From spores
Seed Collecting: N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed
On Oct 12, 2011, RFriend4 from Gaithersburg, MD wrote:
Had 2 of these for 3 years lanquishing under a Bradford Pear in a raised bed. Was certain they had died at the end of each year but was surprised to see them return the following year. Finally gave them the attention they deserved and moved them to a bed at the edge of some White Pines where they received much more water and unfortunately more attention from rabbits and whitetail deer. However they survived and at least tripled in size. Not sure if the extra acid in the soil or moisture is the reason for success. Probably both. Am anxious to see next years performance.
On Oct 11, 2011, AresDraco from San Francisco, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:
LOVE this fern! It does well for me in my cool, damp, half-shade San Francisco garden.
Has anyone propagated this fern? Is it by crown division, or does it spread by rhizomes? I want to plant a rather long bed of these, but the cost to purchase several dozen plants is a bit out of reach right now.
On Oct 11, 2011, prickersnall from Madison, WI wrote:
I love my Japanese Painted Fern, and hope soon to add some other varieties of it. (I've had a change to a new garden and house). Their delicacy and pattern are a great enrichment to a usually-plain, though textured, green background.
Mine is not robust, but it has had to compete with a lot, plus over-hanging lilac boughs. It's future should be literally brighter !
I think one of the maroon-ish ones is called "Ursulla's Red", and there's also something more light-green that's different from the most silvery one, with a similar pattern in it. Being a pattern-lover, of course I'm really ga-ga about this plant !
Incidentally...isn't Texas "full-sun" a lot hotter than mine, here in Wisconsin, due to it's closer proximity to the equator ?
On Oct 10, 2011, pastapicker from Columbus, OH wrote:
I have mine growing under a large maple and they are doing fine in this dry shade for at least 4 years, although I do give some supplemental water if it hasn't rained for about a week. They get some late afternoon sun. The deer which have ravaged most of the yard this year have left these ferns alone.
On Oct 10, 2011, pmcfern from Gig Harbor, WA wrote:
Japanese painted fern is a perfectly beautiful plant for the Puget Sound area. I grow it in full shade with Maidenhair fern, Vancouveria, Hostas and Astilbe. However, the Vancouveria is overtaking it and I am going to try to move it to a new garden this fall. Hope it 'takes' transplanting!
On Jun 10, 2010, John_in_Garland from Garland, TX wrote:
Beautiful small fern. I haven't seen the sun tolerance described by others. First year, mine were sunburning badly with 2 hrs. midday Texas sun. Had to shield them. For next season, moved them into full shade where they are doing well, so don't know if established plants are more sun tolerant.
On Oct 5, 2009, mslehv from Columbus, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:
This plant is extremely easy to tranplant by division and will survive under light conditions ranging from full sun to fairly dense shade. However, it's size and appearance is best in partial shade. It is an excellent plant for tough areas such as under a large mature tree. On the downside, it is definitely invasive and forms a dense mat of roots that makes later eradication difficult. You can feel and hear the roots crackle as you dig in with your spade.
Mine came as a bonus plant with my Var. Solomon's seal, so I planted them together in a protected bed off the deck. They both died back in the winter, and the fern was first to immerge last Spring, followed by the Solomon Seal.
Here in Arlington, Texas, in our generally rather dry, shady garden, this is one of the few ferns that survives and thrives. (Others include wood ferns and holly ferns.) Absolutely pest-free and much more tolerant of our summer heat and sun than other ferns. And even when I occasionally neglect to water them enough in late summer and they wilt into the ground, next spring up they come again, lush as ever! I unconditionally endorse them to friends here who want to try growing ferns. The silvery foliage makes a bright note in dark, shady areas. Japanese Painted Ferns seem limited only by being decidedly deciduous, which leaves bare spots during winter.
On Dec 30, 2008, ronaldv517 from Hillsdale, MI wrote:
I have had incredible luck with this fern,quite by accident.I have planted about 6 under Japanese Maples and an old Suger Maple.The companion plant with the fern is Sweet Woodruff and Irish moss,about 3yrs ago in the moss I started finding tiny silver ferns as I was weeding in the moss and every year now there are more.I am going to transplant some this spring and hope they can be happy all around my other shaded areas.It has truely been the most exciteing gardening excperience I've had.
On Dec 29, 2008, sunnyCA from Livermore, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:
I like this plant. I like the look that it provides. I have it planted under my redwood trees. I think the roots of the redwood have hampered the growth of the fern as they barely survive all summer long. They are sluggish and don't do well if I don't give them plenty of water. I will transplant the ferns when spring comes and I can find them. Given the slow growth I still love the color and will keep them in my garden, just not under my redwood trees.
On Dec 29, 2008, jachurch from Apple Valley, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:
This fern does very well in my zone 4 Apple Valley, MN, shade garden. The soil here is clay aggregate, but I have been adding mulch for many years. The in-ground sprinkler system gives it regular moisture, but the nearby trees keep it from getting too wet. The plant really brightens the dark area of the garden. It behaves much nicer than my other ferns - doesn't run as widely and doesn't get tall and brackish.
On Jul 14, 2007, DebinSC from Summerville, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:
I had these ferns for 3 years. The one in the pic I posted grows nicely, with no special attention in full shade, damp soil with alot of clay in it. I've let them overwinter, in pots the 1st year, and in ground last winter, and they come back nicely (zone 8). Very nice light color for a shady spot.
On Aug 30, 2005, sanity101 from Dublin, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:
Pretty, low, spreading foliage. Unlike many other varegated plants, they do not tend to 'green out' in shady locations, but keep their color. Needs plenty of water in order to thrive. They won't wilt if they are dry, they simply don't grow much.
On Jul 15, 2005, ineedacupoftea from Denver, CO wrote:
I have these in several areas of my garden. Absolutely no one in this hot and dry valley seems to grow ferns at all, as the wind and sun will dry , the Alkalinity (7.5-8) and extreme clay prevent most folks from enjoying gardening at all. However, I have found the Athyriums to be the most robust, especially A niponicum v. pictum. When established, it has taken some insane drought, and it actually survived and grew larger in East sun with some minor sunburn to old fronds. (Until I moved it to a better place) . With a little organic matter, a bit of water, and shade, I think this is the toughest fern I know of!
On Jun 24, 2005, PurplePansies from Deal, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:
This plant grows easily for me.... but it isn't all that "painted" it was when I bought it so I know its the right plant but it isn't now. Maybe it needs more sun? Perhaps its only "painted" certain times (like the fall?) As such it doesn't thrill me so much and I prefer native ferns.
On Jun 2, 2004, Gayle0000 from Bloomington, IL wrote:
Central IL, Zone 5b: I have 2 growing in moist soil (it's a poor drainage area). Soil is moist all the time...even during drought times. One gets morning sun for about 3 hours, then full shade all day. One gets morning sun for 2 hours, then full shade all day. Both are about the same size & growing at the same rate. Coloring is the same despite the sun exposure. They get noticeably bigger every year. These are not delicate plants...more sturdy than they look. Rabbits like to nibble if you're not careful.
On May 28, 2004, angelap from Weatherford, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:
This is one of my favorite ferns. It's a little difficult to keep growing here - zone 8, central texas, very hot and dry. I have it planted in full shade on the north side of my house and I have to be diligent about watering.
Even when it seems to have died completely away, the following spring there will be the tiniest silver leaves coming back! I have to tend them carefully, but by mid summer the plant is large and full again.
On Apr 23, 2004, TeaLeaves from mecosta, MI (Zone 5a) wrote:
My painted ferns are very robust in zone 5 although I admit to having an irrigation system and mulching. They aren't concerned about crowding in my bed and after one was so gorgeous I had to get another and I'll probably keep right on!
On Apr 22, 2004, KDePetrillo from North Scituate, RI (Zone 6a) wrote:
Probably my FAVORITE fern, but it's delicate -- I lose one or two a year here in Zone 5/6. It requires additional water during drought, and doesn't like encroaching plants. But it's certainly worth the extra work: it's really beautiful when it's happy!
On Jul 30, 2002, darius from So.App.Mtns. United States (Zone 5b) wrote:
This is only the second year for this fern in my garden but it's doing well. It does need frequent feeding with a general purpose fertilizer for best growth. I hope to see it spread to form clumps bordering my woodland shade garden.
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
, (2 reports) Auburn, Alabama Tuscaloosa, Alabama Scottsdale, Arizona Shannon Hills, Arkansas Camarillo, California Livermore, California Martinez, California San Francisco, California Thousand Oaks, California Clifton, Colorado Denver, Colorado Hamden, Connecticut Fruitland Park, Florida Lake Lorraine, Florida Alpharetta, Georgia Athens, Georgia Cordele, Georgia Marietta, Georgia (2 reports) Bloomington, Illinois Caseyville, Illinois Cherry Valley, Illinois Chicago, Illinois (2 reports) Geneva, Illinois Hampton, Illinois Homewood, Illinois Mount Prospect, Illinois Peoria, Illinois Tuscola, Illinois Washington, Illinois Galena, Indiana Keomah Village, Iowa Shelby, Iowa Shawnee, Kansas Wichita, Kansas Hebron, Kentucky Bordelonville, Louisiana Arundel, Maine Sandy River, Maine Darnestown, Maryland Easton, Maryland Millersville, Maryland Beverly, Massachusetts Boston, Massachusetts Dracut, Massachusetts Middleborough, Massachusetts Saugus, Massachusetts West Bridgewater, Massachusetts Wrentham, Massachusetts Bloomfield Township, Michigan Cedar Springs, Michigan Hillsdale, Michigan Ludington, Michigan Owosso, Michigan Pinconning, Michigan Royal Oak, Michigan South Lyon, Michigan Rochester, Minnesota Young America, Minnesota Marietta, Mississippi Kansas City, Missouri Pleasant Valley, Missouri Salem, Missouri Pinardville, New Hampshire Hamilton, New Jersey Baxter Estates, New York Bellmore, New York Coram, New York Hannibal, New York Jefferson, New York Montauk, New York Ronkonkoma, New York Raleigh, North Carolina (3 reports) Belfield, North Dakota Bucyrus, Ohio Cincinnati, Ohio Cleveland, Ohio Clyde, Ohio Columbus, Ohio Coshocton, Ohio Dayton, Ohio Fruit Hill, Ohio Glouster, Ohio Haviland, Ohio Hilliard, Ohio Huber Heights, Ohio Lorain, Ohio North Ridgeville, Ohio Riverlea, Ohio Saint Marys, Ohio Williamsburg, Ohio Enid, Oklahoma Tulsa, Oklahoma Gold Hill, Oregon Oregon City, Oregon Albion, Pennsylvania East Norriton, Pennsylvania Lebanon, Pennsylvania Mercer, Pennsylvania Penn Wynne, Pennsylvania West Goshen, Pennsylvania South Kingstown, Rhode Island Conway, South Carolina Hampton, South Carolina India Hook, South Carolina North Augusta, South Carolina Summerville, South Carolina (2 reports) Sioux Falls, South Dakota Clarksville, Tennessee Lafayette, Tennessee Middle Valley, Tennessee Murfreesboro, Tennessee Alvin, Texas Arlington, Texas Austin, Texas Center, Texas Eagle Mountain, Texas Elgin, Texas Fort Worth, Texas Garland, Texas Hickory Creek, Texas Houston, Texas Hudson Oaks, Texas Huffman, Texas Mckinney, Texas Missouri City, Texas Rowlett, Texas San Antonio, Texas Scenic Oaks, Texas Sunset Valley, Texas Wells, Texas Provo, Utah Henrico, Virginia Leesburg, Virginia Lexington, Virginia Newport News, Virginia West Springfield, Virginia Ames Lake, Washington Artondale, Washington Edgewood, Washington Inglewood-finn Hill, Washington Kalama, Washington Olympia, Washington Poulsbo, Washington Walnut Grove, Washington Woodland, Washington Cross Lanes, West Virginia Parkersburg, West Virginia Appleton, Wisconsin Ellsworth, Wisconsin Madison, Wisconsin Menasha, Wisconsin