Ghost Fern Tree

Growth Facts

  • Hardiness Zone: 4-9
  • Exposure: Partial to Full Shade
  • Show more ›

Ghost Fern

Athyrium x 'Ghost'
A spirited Spirit that gives off a mystical glow.

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Pale as moonlight, this hauntingly beautiful Spirit makes shady borders shine with an unearthly light. Ghost Fern is a dramatic plant with fine, feathery fronds that are frosted with a bright silvery sheen. It positively glows in gloomy spaces. Use it to add zest to a north-facing foundation bed, a dark side yard, or a patio plating under a shade tree or arbor. It looks especially striking next to deep green–foliaged plants like Rhododendrons, Bergenia, and Siberian Bugloss. You would think a stunner like this would be a diva, but it’s actually quite easy to grow. Highly recommended.


Growth Facts

  • Hardiness Zone: 4-9
  • Exposure: Partial to Full Shade
  • Show more ›

The Story

Passionate gardener Nancy Swell once wrote that, because of their wonderful diversity and natural beauty, “ferns are among the nicest possible things to have around.” She cultivated many varieties of Ferns in her Virginia garden, where she also specialized in Azaleas and Hostas. The Ghost Fern arose in her garden as a cross between two beloved species, the Japanese Painted Fern from East Asia, and the Lady Fern from the U.S. and other parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Swell passed away in 2008, but her legacy lives on in this dreamy Spirit, which gardeners now enjoy all over the world.

The Details

Got deer? Ferns are usually a safe bet where deer are a problem. They provide needed greenery in the shady woodland garden spaces where deer may come looking for a meal, but deer tend to leave them alone. Ghost Fern is troubled by few pests of any kind and is relatively carefree.

How to Grow

Although Ghost 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. Ghost Fern goes completely dormant in winter, coming to life again in mid-spring.

More Info

Cold Tolerance/Hardiness Zone 4
Heat Tolerance/Hardiness Zone 9
Exposure Partial to Full Shade
Avg Mature Height 2-3'
Avg Mature Width 2-3'
Growth Rate Moderate
Foliage Color Gray Green/Silver
Cary Award Winner No
PA Gold Medal Award No
Attractive Bark No
Attracts Birds No
Attracts Butterflies No
Attracts Hummingbirds No
Attracts Pollinators No
Deer Resistant No
Drought Tolerant No
Dry, Poor Soils No
Edible Fruit No
Fragrant No
Groundcover Yes
Hedge/Windbreak No
Native No
Salt Tolerance/Seashore No
Seasonal Cut Branches No
Shade Tolerance Yes
Showy Flowers No
Specimen Yes
Urban Conditions No
Utility Line Trees No
Wet Moist Soils Yes
Winter Interest No
Woodland Garden Yes
Decor/Craft Use No

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Ghost Fern Tree