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Athyrium × 'Ghost' (lady fern)

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Hardy fern grow sheet

Athyrium × 'Ghost'

lady fern or Ghost fern

From the garden of Virginia's Nancy Swell comes this stunning lady fern with silver-white fronds and a decidedly upright habit. Leaves age to light green with new fronds appearing throughout the season. Upright with a beautiful formal appearance that really stands out in the shady garden. This fern really prefers shade and will stand up with all fronds perpendicular to the ground in full sun.

Athyrium x 'Ghost' LP32 - 32 per flat Availability
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18-24 Inches


12-18 Inches


12 Inches

Bloom Color

USDA Hardiness Zone 3-8

lady fern Interesting Notes

Athyrium × ‘Ghost’ is a cross between A. niponicum var. pictum and A. filix-femina coming from the Virginia garden of Nancy Swell. Sword-like spears of upright silvery-grey foliage grow 2-3’ tall and spreads slowly by rhizome. Center stems are a deep blood red, creating a dynamic contrast that brings depth and highlight into the shade garden. A beautiful, fine-textured foliage to offset bolder leaves like Carex platyphylla, pick up the silver-toned foliage of Heuchera ‘Dale’s Strain’, or play against the deep purple of Geranium maculatum ‘Espresso’.

A hybrid cross of two deciduous ferns, Athyrium × ‘Ghost’ prefers humus-rich woodlands and shady borders in acidic to neutral, moist, well-drained soils. To maximize the ghost-like silver appearance of the fronds, allow the plant to be in light shade. It can take short dry periods better than most ferns but does not like to dry out. To preserve the upright nature of the fronds, provide a sheltered location.

Athryiums are highly adaptable shade groundcovers and resist forage by deer and rabbits while also being a wonderful plant for clay and wet soils. It is a very low maintenance plant and has virtually no pest or disease issues.

Athyrium × 'Ghost' Growing and Maintenance Tips

This cross between A. filix-femina and A. niponicum can be grown in humus-rich woodlands and shady borders in acidic to neutral, moist, well-drained soils. Spreads by shallow rhizomes. Propagate by division in spring. Best used as a groundcover in the woodland or rock garden or as an edge or border in the shaded garden.

Good Substitutions

limelight lady fern Athyrium otophorum
lady fern Athyrium angustum forma rubellum 'Lady in Red'
Japanese painted fern Athyrium 'Godzilla'
lady fern Athyrium filix-femina 'Victoriae'

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Shade
Full Shade
Part Sun
Part Sun
Cut Flower
Cut Flower

Additional Information

Green Infrastructure
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
Ornamental Foliage
Propagation Type
Tissue culture