Cal's Plant of the Week
Athyrium filix-femina
Lady Fern


Athyrium filix-femina

Athyrium filix-femina, or Lady Fern, is a graceful, cold hardy fern native to much of the Northern Hemisphere. The bright green fronds will range in size from 24-60 inches (60-150 cm) long. They are hardy from Massachusetts to Florida and west to Oklahoma and Texas. In USDA zone 7, they are completely deciduous in the winter. Whether grown in containers or in the landscape, they are very attractive and easy to grow.

Culture: Athyrium filix-femina need partial shade to full shade, with a rich, moist soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 1 part peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1 part sand or perlite. During the growing season, the plants are kept moist and fertilized on a weekly basis using a balanced fertilizer diluted to the strength recommended on the label. In late September, for plants grown in containers, we start subjecting them to cooler night temperatures until they die back. At this time, plants are stored for the winter in and kept at 48F (9C) until late February.

Propagation: Athyrium filix-femina is propagated by division of clumps or by spores. The ripe spores can be collected on a piece of paper placed under spore-bearing leaves. Sow spores on damp peat moss in late winter. They germinate best at a temperature of 68-70F (20-21C). The growing medium should be kept constantly moist and covered with glass or plastic. Once new plants are large enough to handle they can be transplanted into individual containers.

Athyrium filix-femina was featured as Plant of the Week November 14-26, 2003.

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Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.