Sign up for News & Availability Emails
Site Search:
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)

Click here to download technical information for growers:

Hardy fern grow sheet
Species Distribution Map: Click to enlarge
Map Color Key © 2013 BONAP

Athyrium filix-femina

lady fern

Handsome crowns of feathery fronds are typical of this genus. Delicate and lacy with arching fronds and dark red stems at maturity. Strong-growing and dependable, lady ferns are great garden plants. Tough and easy to grow, this beauty is the right choice for perennial borders and woodlands alike. A breathtaking flush of new fronds appears in the spring, with new leaves appearing throughout the season for a continuously fresh look. Found in swamps, thickets and damp woods east of the Rockies.

SIZE
Athyrium filix-femina LP32 - 32 per flat Availability
Add to My North Creek Nurseries Wish List

Height

24-48 Inches

Spread

24-36 Inches

Spacing

12 Inches

Bloom Color

USDA Hardiness Zone 5-10

lady fern Interesting Notes

Handsome crowns of feathery fronds are typical of this genus. Athyrium filix-femina, or lady fern, is an erect, fine filigreed foliage fern with dark red stems at maturity that grows 1-3’ tall and spreads to 2 ½’ wide. Tough and easy to grow, this beauty is the right choice for perennial borders and woodlands alike. A breathtaking flush of new fronds appears in the spring, with new leaves appearing throughout the season for a continuously fresh look.


Lady fern flourishes in bright shade and moist, rich, organic soil. Athyrium filix-femina is circumglobal and can be found in rich moist woods, thickets, fields, meadows, and ravines throughout North America. While it does tolerate wet feet, it does not tolerate clay. Athyrium tolerates sun if kept cool and consistently moist. To maintain verdant appearance, protect from harsh winds, but provide adequate air circulation. To propagate, divide lady fern clumps every few years in the spring. Unlike other ferns, lady fern is relatively tolerant of sun and dry soil as compared to many other ferns. They spread nicely but don't run.


In our shade garden, it partners well with bold leafed foliage like Hosta and Packera and is a great contrast with purple-hued plants like Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’. Like most ferns, Athyriums are deer resistant. It is a very low maintenance plant that adds a lot of aesthetic value to the landscape.

Athyrium filix-femina Growing and Maintenance Tips

Prefers moist, well-drained, acid soils in full to partial shade. Tolerant of full sun if adequate moisture is provided. Protect from harsh winds, but provide adequate air circulation. Propagate by clump division every few years in the spring or by spore. Best used in the woodland garden or as an edge or border in the shaded garden.

Good Substitutions

lady fern Athyrium filix-femina
lady fern Athyrium × 'Ghost'
Japanese painted fern Athyrium 'Godzilla'
Japanese painted fern Athyrium niponicum var. pictum

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Shade
Full Shade
Part Sun
Part Sun
Moist
Moist
Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant
Cut Flower
Cut Flower

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Average
Green Infrastructure
Woodland
Wetland Indicator Status
Falcutative (FAC)
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
Attributes
Native to North America
Ornamental Foliage
Propagation Type
Tissue culture