How to Grow Athyrium filix-femina Plants in your Garden

Athyrium filix-feminais a fern commonly known as Lady fern. It comes from the family Athyriaceae.

Lady Fern is clump forming with deciduous leaves. It grows well in the UK to zone H6, and USDA zones 4 to 8.

As it is a fern it does not bloom with flowers, but is grown for its leaves. These leaves are lance-shaped and feathery. They grow from 60 to 100 cm (24 to 40 inches) long.

Lady fern
Athyrium x 'Ghost' hybrid of Athyrium filix-femina and Athyrium niponicum photograph by K M.

Leaves range in colour from a light yellowish green to a reddish brown near the end of its growing season.

It prefers shady to semi-shady areas. This fern is a great addition for woodland or rock gardens, especially near ponds or streams. It is a great plant to grow in shady parts of the garden or/and besides water features such as ponds.

Athyrium filix-femina is also often grown as an ornamental plant that adds texture to the garden.

It is also sometimes used to prevent erosion along mild slopes. This fern is well-liked due to its resistance to deer and rabbits.

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Lady Fern

Athyrium filix-feminagrows from a spore located on the underside of the leaves.

It is considered moderately difficult to grow from a spore. The spores must be planted in a rich, wet soil. They should then be stored in a brightly lit warm location. Keep the container covered and the soil moist.

Alternatively, Athyrium filix-feminacan be purchased as a small plant from a nursery and planted directly in the garden.

If the fern becomes too crowded, the clumps may be divided in the spring and replanted.

The fern requires a rich soil with good drainage. The leaves are delicate and prefer some shelter from the wind to prevent becoming damaged by late summer.

After it is established, the fern is fairly hardy and can be enjoyed year after year.

Athyrium filix-femina Growing and Care Guide

  • Scientific Name: Athyrium filix-femina
  • Common Name: Lady fern
  • Growing Zone: USA: 4 to 8 / UK H6
  • Life Cycle / Plant Type: Fern

Plant Details

  • Plant Height (Inches): 24 to 30
  • Plant Spread (Inches): 30 to 36
  • Time of Bloom:
  • Flower Details:
  • Leaf Foliage: Green
  • Fruit:
  • Growth Form: Irregular / Sprawling

Ideal Growing Conditions

  • Best Light Conditions: shade to partial shade partial sun
  • Rate of Growth: Average pace
  • Suitable Soil Types: Loamy, Neutral, Well drained
  • Soil Moisture: Moist/Wet

Caring Conditions

  • Care:
  • Level of Maintenance: Low
  • Propagation: Sowing spores in mid to late summer or by division in spring
  • How to Prune: Dead or damaged fronds may be removed as necessary
  • Pests: Usually pest free out of doors
  • Diseases: Usually pest free outdoors

Further Information

  • Can Attract:
  • Tolerant of: Rabbit, Heavy Shade
  • Best Garden Use: Border, Container, Foundation, Ground cover, En masse , Woodland garden
  • Family: Athyriaceae.
  • Closely Related Species: Ladyferns.
  • Miscellaneous: Attractive foliage, Naturalizing, Wetlands plant
  • Genus Detail: Athyrium
  • Further Reading and References: Here and Here

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Athyrium filix-femina. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Buphthalmum and Bellis plants.