Japanese painted fern-how tall?

linnea56(z5 IL)June 16, 2005

I just bought two kinds of Japanese painted ferns. Before I plant them I would like info on how tall they will really get, so I can decide which goes in front. They have labels with height information, but so far in real life growing conditions I have yet to see one that wasn't more mat-like and prostrate rather than upright in form.

I have Crested Japanese painted fern, which looks taller in the pot. Label says grows 12-24". This is quite a range!

The other is a standard Japanese painted fern; a little more colorful; flatter looking. Label says 20".

What do they do in your garden? My conditions are full shade in morning (shadow cast by the house), dappled shade afternoon to evening.

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I have four, diferent colors a red an a silver. Mine are not even 6" tall. They grow out and hug the ground. As they get older the clump gets thick so they get a tish taller, but not really.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 7:34AM
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Mine max out at about 12". There are hybrids which get taller and retain most of the species look, such as 'Branford Beauty' which gets about 18"-24" tall for me.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2005 at 12:41PM
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ladybugontario(z5 Ontario)

So I guess I'm not alone in being guilty of judging a plant by the picture. The taxonomic (botanical classification) scoop on Japanese Painted Ferns (Athyrium nipponicum) is that they have a "creeping rhizome" with a short stipe (the bare part of the stem between the ground and the lowest leaves on the frond). That means they are, comparatively, ground huggers. They are a lovely fern, but the pictures we all see make them look gracefully arching and tall. Instead of Cary Grant, they are more like Tom Cruise. Both pleasing to the eye, but in a different way. I would plant them all in front, and maybe back them up with some Royal Standard hostas. This will really show off the colour and texture of your Japanese ferns. The hosta bears its leaves high up, so you will maintain good air circulation at ground level.

I've plunked an ancient, irrepairable, Singer sewing machine in among my Painted ferns. The splash of black against the foliage of the ferns makes them look all the more striking. Short, but striking.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2005 at 4:27PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Thanks for the suggestions. I had a "creeping" feeling (ahem) that they wouldn't get tall at all.

I've planted them all toward the front, and will plan on something else for the back. I did put one hosta in for leaf texture contrast: and will keep my eyes open for more varieties.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2005 at 5:24PM
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