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Got shade? Liven it up with the colorful fronds of Japanese Painted Fern. This perky Spirit makes shady spaces sparkle. Who needs flowers? It works its magic with foliage alone. Each lacy frond is “painted” with a wash of cool mint green, then frosted with an overlay of metallic silver and accented with rich burgundy and purple pigment along the midribs. And you thought ferns were just green! Plant Japanese Painted Fern in a woodland garden or on the north or east side of your home to give it shelter from the hot sun, and it will reward you with lush, bright foliage all season long.
- Hardiness Zone: 5
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Ferns are ancient Spirits that existed with and long before dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Before there were flowering plants, there were ferns, and they took the shape of groundcovers, shrubs, and trees. Even today, ferns give an intriguing primitive feel to the landscape like no other plant can. They make a space seem quiet and serene, providing a welcome escape from your stressful modern day-to-day routine. This species of fern is native to not only Japan but also Korea, Taiwan, and northern China. The especially colorful “Painted” form probably originated in Japan long ago.
In 2004, the Perennial Plant Association picked Japanese Painted Fern as its Perennial Plant of the Year. It is the only fern to have ever received this honor. Recipients are chosen based on their adaptability, ease of growth, beauty through multiple seasons, and resistance to pests and diseases.
How to Grow
Although Japanese Painted Fern is one tough Spirit, treating it well will reap rewards. This means giving it a premium spot in the landscape where it will receive gentle morning sun or dappled sunlight throughout the day. It needs shade when the sun is hottest. This fern also appreciates rich, organic soil that holds some moisture but drains well and doesn’t stay soggy after a rain. Regular irrigation is important for lush growth, especially if plants are competing with tree roots for water. It will spread slowly like a groundcover when happy. Japanese Painted Fern goes completely dormant in winter, coming to life again in mid-spring.
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