Lady Ferns for Shade Gardens

September 28, 2016

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Add a bit of grace and elegance to your shade garden with the help of Lady ferns (Athyrium felix-femina). 

This shade lover can be found growing in moist woodlands, meadows and ravines throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The feathery fronds add texture and color to the garden. They combine nicely with other shade perennials and the fine foliage contrasts nicely with the large leaves of hostas.

The small leaflets that line the leaf stems of ferns are called pinnae. The lady fern has many cultivars divided into several categories based on these pinnae. Crested cultivars have fan shaped tufts or tassles of pinnae at the end of the stem. The pinnae on crossed cultivars crisscross along the stem, while the feathery group has more finely divided pinnae.

Grow these beauties in full to partial shade and moist well-drained soil for best results.

A bit more information: The lady fern has a clumping growth habit. The feathery stems arise in a cluster and the branches arch, providing an elegant somewhat formal appearance. The Chicago Botanic Garden plant evaluation found both the Lady Fern and Japanese painted ferns to be good additions to the landscape.

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