Athyrium niponicum 'RED BEAUTY'

Athyrium niponicum
Athyrium niponicum 'RED BEAUTY'
Japanese painted fern
SIZE/TYPE low perennial
 low or groundcovering
USUAL WIDTH 0.3-0.5m
LEAVES deciduous broadleaf
COLOUR OF LEAVES varigated:silver and blue-green and burgundy red
LOCATION semi-shade to shade
SOIL TYPE acidic (peaty) to neutral
SOIL MOISTURE REQUIREMENTS evenly moist (dislikes drought)
USDA zone (lowest) 4   (down to -34°C)
FOR ZONE 5+6 Code of winter protection zone 5+6
FOR ZONE 7 Code of winter protection zone 7
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Japanese painted fern gained its specific epithet niponicum from Nippon which is the Japanese term for Japan (日本). It is a deciduous species with attractive fronds with fine leaflets of unique colours. Its seeds are variable and plants risen from seeds can differ from the parent. Spotting such spontaneous mutation gives rise to selecting new varieties. It slowly spreads with short rhizomes and under ideal conditions forms dense colonies used as a very decorative groundcover.

Red Beauty is a Japanese painted fern variety with pale green leaves with silver grey hues especially on young leaves whose midribs are distinctly dark magenta purple, just like its stems. As this colour disappears from the stems as the leaves mature, it remains on the midribs and contrasts beautifully with the silver-grey areas around. Leaf margins are finely serrated.

Japanese painted ferns can be found in almost all landscape types except for xeriscape. They are commonly used in Japanese gardens, but they also find use in cottage woodland gardens. They look great in urban landscapes in semi-shaded front yards among evergreen shrubs such as azaleas and pieris, and will offer elegance in modern containers in a minimalistic architecture. And finally, they will make a beautiful companion plant in a colourful semi-shaded perennial border alongside hostas, coral bells, brunneras, anemones, liriopes and similar.

Japanese painted fern is deciduous, so remove all foliage above ground level after winter. The ideal location is a partial shade, though, it will grow in full shade, too. It needs neutral to slightly acidic, humus-rich, well-drained but constantly moist soil. Even moisture will ensure the continuous formation of new fronds of leaves, on the other hand, drought will make the plant lose colour and drying off the tips. Hardy to about -34 °C. (USDA zone 4).

Last update 20-12-2022

Athyrium niponicum
Athyrium niponicum (
  • STANDARD QUALITY - Plants of this group are 1st class quality with number of branches and overall density adequate to their size and age, considering they were container grown.
  • DE LUXE QUALITY - This label guarantees a luxurious quality of manually selected plants that, compared to their height and age, are exceptionally dense and beautiful.
  • EXTRA - These plants are usually mature and bigger specimens with exceptional overall appearance.
  • STANDARD (as described in the plant form) means a tree with a trunk of 190-210 cm and a crown at the top, unless specified differently. The commercial size for trees is their girth measured in the height of 1m from ground.
  • HOBBY - These plants are of the same quality as our standard-quality plants but younger and therefore cheaper.
  • SHRUB - a woody plant with branches growing bushy from the ground level.
  • HALF-STANDARD or MINI-STANDARD - a small tree with shorter trunk, its size is usually specified.
  • FEATHERED - These are trees with branches growing already from the base of the trunk and up along the stem.
  • GRASSES and PERENNIALS - Sizes given usually read the diameter of the pot or the clump, as specified.
LARGE PLANTS over 150 cmspecimens, screening and hedging shrubs

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