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Athyrium, the lady-fern


Athyrium is a cute deciduous fern, ideal to decorate a shaded corner of the garden.

Athyrium facts, a short list

NameAthyrium filix-femina and other species
Type – perennial

Height – 12 to 16 inches (30 to 120 cm)
Exposure – shade and part shade
Soil – ordinary

Outdoors, often in forest underbrush, it makes for very easy care and growing.

Planting athyrium

Planting is either in fall or in spring but avoid frost spells and high temperatures.

For this, use adequate potting soil mixed into your earth and pour a bed of clay pebbles along the bottom to increase drainage.

  • If potted, repot in spring every 2 or 3 years with a pot that is slightly larger across each time.
  • This plant prefers shade to sun, which would either be too dry or too hot for it.

The propagation of athyrium is through crown division in spring.

Pruning and caring for athyrium

Proper lady fern care for lush growthCut dried or yellowed leaves as they die off, one at a time, but it’s ok if you don’t do this. Cut fern scapes make for excellent leaf mulch for plants with more vulnerable roots because they insulate but still let the soil breathe.

Apart from this, athyrium requires practically no care or maintenance.

In summer, you might mulch the base of the plant to keep the soil moist.

In winter, the foliage will disappear, but fear not: it will start growing back in spring. Athyrium is very hardy and resists the coldest of winters.

All there is to know about athyrium

This lady fern has the rare trait of being very comfortable in dark forest settings at the foot of trees.

athyrium lady-fernOnce it has started growing somewhere, it is very difficult to tear it out because roots are tightly welded to its growing medium.

Note that the darker the shade it is under, the slower its growth; but its leaves are then all the more beautiful.

Read also:

Smart tip about athyrium

Both indoors in a pot and outdoors in the ground, avoid excessively sunny locations.

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois): Volodymyr
CC BY 2.0: Dan Nevill, oliveoligarchy, Lynn Wohlers
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  • KingTubbyTheCat wrote on 11 October 2020 at 18 h 34 min

    Two corrections: lady fern is not evergreen. I don’t think that any ferns in its family are.

    Additionally, depending on the species, these get much larger than stated. The native Pacific Northwest variety can easily grow to 6′ tall and 4′ wide. That said, they’re great and ready to grow.

    • Gaspard wrote on 14 October 2020 at 16 h 37 min

      You’re right! I guess I meant it grew back after dying off, but it was misleading so I corrected the article. As for size, it absolutely depends on how much soil it has. For many who grow it indoors it luckily doesn’t grow as large as what you shared. Thanks a lot for your comment!