Lady Fern is a large, decorative fern that unfurls its delicate bright green fronds in late spring. It grows and multiples effortlessly and tolerates significantly more sunlight than other native ferns, provided enough moisture is present. It is deciduous, meaning the fronds turn brown and die back entirely in the fall, preparing to burst forth with new life each spring. Its versatility and graceful beauty make it a staple of NW habitat gardens.
- Plant type/canopy layer: deciduous perennial fern
- Size at maturity: 4' tall, 24" wide
- Light requirements: full shade, part sun/part shade
- Moisture requirements: moist to wet soil
- Bloom time: n/a
- Growth rate/ease: moderate growth rate, easy to grow
- Wildlife support: Nesting, refugia and foraging habitat for birds, including hummingbirds. Deer, elk and even bears eat the fronds.
- Native habitat/range: grows in moist to wet forests, meadows and streambanks. It is circumboreal - meaning it has an expansive range spanning boreal regions of the temperate Northern Hemisphere. Portland Plant List - yes.
- Special features & uses: medicinal, roots/rhizomes edible (must be cooked)
Gardening with Lady Fern: Lady Fern prefers moist to wet soils in shade or partial sun. The more sun it receives, the more moisture it requires. Once established it can reproduce vigorously through spores and rhizomes creating lush cover in the woodland garden or excellent gifts for friends. After dying back in fall, some may consider the withered fronds a bit unsightly - though, naturally, wildlife consider it habitat. Makes an excellent addition to a shady raingarden with Oregon Oxalis, Slough Sedge, Inside-out Flower and Osoberry.
Photo Credit 1: "Athyrium filix-femina close up" by EcoCenter at HHP by Lopipero-Langmo is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Photo Credit 2: Tracy Cozine