Japanese painted fern
Athyrium niponicum var. pictum


Common Name: Japanese painted fern

Type: Fern

Family: Dryopteridaceae

Zone: 3 to 8

Native Range: Eastern Asia

Height: 1 to 1.5 feet

Spread: 1.5 to 2 feet

Bloom Time: Non-flowering

Bloom Description: Non-flowering

Sun: Part shade to full shade

Water: Medium

Maintenance: Low

Flowers: Flowers not Showy

Leaves: Colorful

Tolerates: Dense Shade, Rabbits


Easily grown in humusy, organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade. Best sited in sheltered locations. Best frond color in light shade. Soil must not be allowed to dry out. Divide clumps in early spring. Naturalizes well by short, branching rhizomes and can form dense colonies in optimum growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Japanese painted fern is one of the most popular cultivated ferns. It is a deciduous fern with a weeping habit which typically grows to 18" tall and features a slowly spreading clump of triangular, variegated fronds (to 20" long). Fronds are a soft grayish-green with an overlay of silvery hues accented by contrasting dark maroon midribs. The spore-producing structure called sori are located in a herringbone pattern along the veins of the pinnules. Synonymous with and sometime sold as Athyrium goeringianum 'Pictum'.


No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Woodland gardens, shade gardens or shaded border fronts. Also effective in shaded areas along streams or ponds.

Selected from:


False Cardemon

Rebecca Jordi
Horticulture Agent IV
County Extension Director
Contributing Editor
email: rljordi@ufl.edu