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Athyrium niponicum var. pictum (Japanese painted fern)

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Hardy fern grow sheet

Athyrium niponicum var. pictum

Japanese painted fern

The most colorful fern around with subtle shades of green, purple and red on a grey-blue background. The color is more intense with some direct sun, preferably morning or late afternoon. Strong-growing and dependable, the lady ferns are great garden plants.

Athyrium niponicum var. pictum LP32 - 32 per flat Availability
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12-18 Inches


18-24 Inches


12 Inches

Bloom Color

USDA Hardiness Zone 4-9

Japanese painted fern Interesting Notes

Charming throughout the growing season, Japanese painted fern provides a rare departure from the greens of the shade garden with its seemingly hand-painted, airy fronds. The 12-inch fronds are silvery-gray, almost appearing metallic. But the beautiful garnet-colored veins that extend to the tips of the leaflets really steal the show. Forming a gentle weeping habit, Athyrium niponicum var pictum is a strong growing and dependable plant growing 18” tall and spreading slowly by 24”. In 2004, it was chosen as The Perennial Plant Association's Perennial Plant of the Year®.

Originally native to Japan, Korea, Taiwan and other countries in East Asia, Japanese painted fern prefers evenly moist soils in bright shade. It can take full shade but loses some of its silver and red coloring and can take some sun but direct sunlight will burn the foliage. Athyrium tolerates dry periods after it is established.

Like most Athyriums, Japanese painted ferns are deer and rabbit resistant. The fronds of Athyrium provide nesting habitat for wildlife and is a great groundcover.

Athyrium niponicum var. pictum Growing and Maintenance Tips

A. niponicum is an trouble-free landscape plant that prefers evenly moist soils, but will tolerate long periods of drought once it is established. It is best in partial or full shade. Full sun is possible with ample moisture. Leaves color up more with a bit of sun exposure, but can be more vertical and less attractive if they receive too much sun.

Good Substitutions

lady fern Athyrium filix-femina
lady fern Athyrium filix-femina 'Victoriae'
limelight lady fern Athyrium otophorum
Japanese painted fern Athyrium niponicum 'Regal Red'

Key Characteristics & Attributes

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

Additional Information

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