B. Rosie Lerner
Purdue Extension


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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


Writer: B. Rosie Lerner
Editor: Olivia Maddox