If you live in a cool area but struggle to find plants that suit this particular environment, look no further than Athyrium niponicum a.k.a. Japanese painted fern!
This gorgeous ornamental plant has everything it needs to be your next lifetime companion. But let’s get you more familiar with it first!
Athyrium niponicum, commonly known as Japanese painted fern, is a fabulous species of ferns that should have a special place in your plant family. Native to eastern Asia, this plant grows mostly in the shaded lowlands of Japan, China, and Korea.
Japanese painted fern is one of the most popular ornamental ferns worldwide. Besides its eternal beauty, this plant bewitches many gardeners with its hardiness and easy-going style. Another great thing about Japanese painted fern is the fact that it has plenty of landscape uses, so you will also have the opportunity to bring your creativity to play!
Keep reading our guide to find out more interesting details about Athyrium niponicum a.k.a. Japanese painted fern! You will also see how super easy to grow, care for, and even propagate this fern can be!
About Japanese Painted Fern
- The Japanese painted fern that enjoys the most appreciation in cultivation is none other than A. niponicum var. pictum. Still, this particular variety also comes along with other cultivars to choose from.
- Some of the prettiest Japanese painted fern cultivars are ‘Burgundy Lace’, ‘Metallicum’, ‘Pewter Lace’, ‘Regal Red’, and ‘Silver Falls’. This plant will make your outdoor area look spectacular if you combine several of its cultivars.
- Thanks to their low-demanding nature and eye-catching foliage, the cultivars A. niponicum var. pictum and Japanese painted fern ‘Silver Falls’ have gained the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
- Japanese painted fern is a species that does not produce flowers in its lifetime. Because of this fact, this fern does not send seeds as a reproductive material. The plant reproduces via spores.
- What makes Japanese painted fern a one of a kind plant to have around is its versatility. This fern can make for a wonderful landscape addition to woodland gardens, cottage gardens, water gardens, borders, beds, shrub underplantings, edging plantings, hillsides, ponds, or streams.
- Japanese painted fern will look absolutely fabulous near other marvellous species of plants. The most common companions for this plant include Astrantia major ‘Roma’, Coral Bells, Helleborus Winter Jewels ‘Harlequin Gem’, Hosta ‘First Frost’, Hosta ‘Halcyon’, and Hyacinthoides hispanica ‘Excelsior’.
- Japanese painted ferns are toxic to humans and animals if ingested. For safety purposes, keep your curious kids, cats, or dogs away from the location you are growing your Japanese painted fern in.
Japanese Painted Fern Features: An Overview
- Japanese painted fern belongs to the Athyrium genus that contains about 180 species of ferns. Some of these species come along with many other varieties, forms, and hybrids.
- This plant is a deciduous clump-forming fern that emerges from a creeping rhizome. Depending on the variety, Japanese painted fern can reach from 12 to 18 inches (30-45 cm) in both height and width.
- Its foliage consists of long, divided, strikingly refined, arching, and lance-shaped fronds that grow alternately arranged on purple, pink, grey, or silvery-green stems.
- The undersides of the fronds are spore-bearing sori that can show up in different shapes, such as oblong, J-shaped, hooked, or horseshoe-shaped.
- The fronds vary in length, growing between 11.8 and 29.5 inches (30-75) long. On some specimens, the fronds may grow over 39.3 inches (1 m) in length.
- The leaves of Japanese painted ferns form superb rosettes. Depending on the variety, the foliage can exhibit various shades of green, silvery, pink, purple, red, and many mixes of these colours (variegated forms).
Growing Japanese Painted Fern
Now is the perfect time to dive deeper into the world of the Japanese painted fern! You will be surprised to find out that this plant can thrive with little to no effort on your part. The only thing you will have to do is to mimic its natural habitat at home. And this is much easier than it sounds, trust us!
The amount of sunlight that Japanese painted fern can take will directly depend on the area you live in. In general, most gardeners know this plant as a big lover of partial shade or full shade. However, this is true only if you are growing yours in the southern part of its native range. In the northern regions that have somewhat cooler weather, you can safely grow your Japanese painted fern in partial shade to gentle morning sunlight.
Despite its overall fragile appearance, Japanese painted fern is actually very hardy. This attractive plant is winter-hardy in the USDA regions 3 to 8. It prefers weather that is more on the cooler side and can easily tolerate temperatures that drop to -32 °F (-35 °C).
- It is fully rooted in the soil and can be planted immediately upon arrival, weather permitting. We advise not to plant during frigid winter months or under drought conditions
- For Best results, plant in usda zones 4-8. Mature Height is 6-12in, mature spread is 18-24in
- Silver-purple sheen that covers the plant is what makes it an irresistible addition to the garden
- Grows well in full sun or partial shade
- Plant will be dormant (no leaves) late fall through the winter months, this is normal. It will leaf out in spring
- Hardy in zones 5-8
- Height: 18-24 inches
- Deer Resistant
- Loves the shade
- Immediate shipping.
- Considered the best Fall foliage of any maple species. Fiery orange and yellow foliage in Autumn
- Award of garden merit from the royal horticultural society!
- Large deeply dissected leaves mounds to 12 feet. Resembles the appearance of a large fern!
- Small red flowers and produces seed for birds as well
- 2 - Year plant will reach 15 feet at maturity - shipped in container with soil. Will be dormant from nov-may. Hardy zone 5-8
Japanese painted fern is virtually pest-free, no matter what environmental conditions you are growing yours in. However, some curious intruders like caterpillars, slugs, or snails may bother your plant once in a while. These pests usually feed on the leaves of Japanese painted ferns and can badly damage the foliage with time.
The best way to protect your fern from this problem is to create a natural barrier around its base. The barrier can consist of either rocks or mulch. If the pests have already infested your Japanese painted fern, you must first remove them with bare hands. After this step, you should apply neem oil on the leaves until you see no trace of the pests.
Planting Japanese Painted Fern
One of the most important demands that Japanese painted fern has is the type of soil in which it will grow from now on. As a rule, the plant does well in soil that comes with very good drainage. If you do not plant yours in well-draining soil, some issues like fungal diseases or root rot may occur at any moment.
Moreover, this fern will appreciate neutral to very acidic or slightly alkaline substrates that are rich in nutrients and organic matter.
A simple trick to provide your Japanese painted fern with lots of nutrients is to add compost into the soil before planting.
For best growth, we warmly recommend you amend the soil a few weeks to months before planting your Japanese painted fern.
As long as you grow your Japanese painted fern in humusy, nutrient-rich soil, you will not have to think too much about fertilizers. In fact, the plant will do just fine if you feed it with a balanced pelleted or liquid fertilizer at ½ strength once every year in spring.
Watering Japanese Painted Fern
Japanese painted fern is one of those companions that thrive with constant moisture. Still, it will not benefit from soggy conditions or waterlogged soils. This plant is susceptible to root rot, so over-watering is something you will surely want to stay away from. And it is not as difficult as you might think to do so!
First things first, keep in mind that you should always check the growing medium of your Japanese painted fern in-between waterings. During the warmer seasons, this plant will require another drink when the top half of the soil feels dry to the touch. In autumn and winter, however, the fern will do just fine if you provide it with water whenever the soil has dried out completely. That’s all!
Propagating Japanese Painted Fern
Japanese painted fern typically spreads through rhizomes and may even fill your garden with lots of colours with time. However, this spreading occurs very gradually, so you will have to be more patient if you want a garden full of this beauty. Or maybe not!
Luckily, this particular spreading habit of the Japanese painted fern makes it excellent for propagation. If you have not done this before, do not worry! The easiest way to propagate your Japanese painted fern is through division in spring. Being one of the most effective methods of propagation, the division will show spectacular results in literally no time.
Once the spring shows its warmth, you can dig your Japanese painted fern out of its growing medium using a good old shovel. After this step, all you have to do is divide its rhizome into as many sections as you can, then replant each of them into its permanent spot.
The number of sections may vary depending on the size of your plant. In general, you can obtain two or three healthy small Japanese painted ferns. When the transplanting process is over, make sure you water each Japanese painted fern well. If you happen to have too many Japanese painted ferns around you can always gift some of them to your fern-loving family members or friends!
Having one or more Athyrium niponicum a.k.a. Japanese painted ferns around will bring you nothing but joy. With proper care, these plants will keep you company for a very long time. Just make sure you check out all the cultivars and create your unique landscape using their generous colour palette. You will not regret it!
Are you growing ferns? Let us know what your favourites are in the comments!