Japanese Painted Fern

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Japanese Painted Fern

Athyrium nipponicum ‘Pictum’

Description & Overview

Japanese Painted Fern is a show stopper in any woodland garden, with silvery blue fronds and pulsing burgundy veins throughout it brightens up a shady location. Great for a mass planting or border, organically rich soil loving, this fern is a proven performer in our local soils. Native to eastern Asia, contrasting nicely with an array of shade perennials or at the base of a specimen tree planting, it is versatile in the landscape.

Core Characteristics

Wisconsin Native: No – Introduced
Mature Height: 12-18″
Mature Spread: 24-30″
Growth Rate: Perennial
Growth Form: Upright, spreading
Light Requirements: Partial Shade to Full Shade
Site Requirements: Moist, organically rich soil
Flower: Insignificant
Bloom Period: NA
Foliage: Silvery fronds with burgundy, wine-red accents
Fall Color: None
Fruit Notes: NA

Suggested Uses:

Ferns are most used in mass plantings as a bedding or border as “groundcover”, or an understory plant. With the Japanese Painted Ferns’ unique eye-catching color display, it can also make a beautiful specimen plant in a shade garden. Combined with other shade-loving perennials and ferns in a moist site this silvery accenting perennial will speak for itself when allowed to naturalize an area. It is also suitable for use in a rock garden.

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Wildlife Value:

As a dense groundcover when left to naturalize, it can create cover and protection to small mammals from predators and a cooling place during the intense heat in our summer months.

Maintenance Tips:

Pruning is unnecessary, and when sited correctly minimal maintenance as well. Japanese Painted Fern can be divided in thirds in spring every few years if needed. To maintain good plant health, site in organically nutrient rich soil, that stays moist and does not receive full fun.

japanese painted fern athyrium nipponicum pictum shade plants johnson's nursery menomonee falls wi
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Deer and rabbit resistant, this painted fern has relatively no major pest or disease issues.

Leaf Lore:

The Perennial Plant Association’s 2004 Perennial Plant of the Year choice, making Japanese Painted fern a staple in any woodland garden. A trial conducted by Richard Hawke at the Chicago Botanic Gardens which rated over a dozen painted ferns solidifies the hardiness and performance abilities of Athyrium niponicum.

Companion Plants:

Combine with other shade perennials such as Jack Frost Brunnera, Patriot Hosta, Fanal Astilbe, Variegated Solomon’s Seal, and Lungwort. Contrast with purple-leaved Hillside Black Beauty Snakeroot or Black Obsidian Coral Bells. Create a mass planting in combination with other ferns like Ghost Fern or Sensetive Fern for a woodland garden setting.

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