| B. Rosie Lerner
Japanese Painted Fern Named Perennial
of the Year for 2004
The Perennial Plant Association (PPA) has selected Japanese painted fern,
cultivar 'Pictum,' as the 2004 Perennial Plant of the Year. Though the
plant is petite in size, Japanese painted fern provides outstanding texture
and color in the shade garden. Japanese painted fern also can be grown
in patio containers and hanging baskets.
Known botanically as Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum,' Japanese painted
fern is native to Asia, but is hardy throughout Indiana and most of the
Midwest. The plant grows about 18 inches tall with metallic, silver-gray
fronds accented with just a touch of burgundy red and a hint of blue.
Japanese painted fern will adapt to nearly any level of shade, but the
most attractive foliage color is displayed in light shade. Like most ferns,
a well-drained organic-rich soil with plentiful moisture and high relative
humidity is ideal. Adding a 2-3 inch layer of mulch each year will help
maintain soil moisture and organic content. Minimal maintenance, such
as pruning, deadheading and fertilizing is needed. The plant is easily
propagated by division in spring or fall.
For information about the Perennial Plant Association and its Perennial
of the Year program, visit PPA's Web site at www.perennialplant.org.