Colorful Ferns For Growers

Adiantum hispidulum

If you think “green” when you hear the word “ferns,” you are missing out on some fabulous fern varieties. While many come in various shades of green, there are ferns that can provide you and your customers with some unique color options. Even better, many of these colorful ferns are hardy and have numerous applications in the landscape and container plantings.

Rosy Maidenhair Fern
Adiantum hispidulum

Adiantum hispidulum produces new glossy, rosy-pink fronds that mature to a dark green as the fronds age. The hand-shaped fronds have shiny, dark-green stems that reach 12 to 18 inches tall. This clumping-type plant spreads to 24 inches. The species name hispidulum is derived from the Latin hispis “hair” and means “minutely hairy.”

As a native of the South Pacific, including New Zealand, Australia and Southeast Asia, this plant does well in warm temperatures. It can tolerate higher light levels than most maidenhair ferns but prefers partial shade. It is more tolerant of sun and dry conditions than other fern species, however, don’t allow the growing medium to dry out.

This plant is evergreen in USDA Zones 8 to 11, although the fronds may be frost-tender. Plants that are borderline hardy often send out new fronds during mid-summer. Fronds will be late to re-emerge if winter temperatures were too cold.

Adiantum hispidulum is deer-resistant and can be used with perennials under shade trees in woodland, rock and water gardens. It can also be combined with tropical plants. It is evergreen indoors and can be used as a decorative table plant or in combination planters.

Regal Red Painted Fern
Athyrium nipponicum var. pictum ‘Regal Red’

Athyrium niponicum var. pictum ‘Regal Red’ is a Japanese painted fern that has silver ruffled fronds with deep-burgundy stems and mid-veins. Although ‘Regal Red’ is deciduous, it holds its 8- to 20-inch-long fronds well into the fall, much longer than other athyriums. These mounding plants spread to 24 inches wide.

Hardy in Zones 4 to 9, the deer- and rabbit-resistant Regal Red is a colorful addition to woodland shade gardens. It can be used as an accent plant in rock gardens, as a border plant or massed as a ground cover. It also makes a beautiful specimen container plant and can be used in fresh cut arrangements.

Brilliance Autumn Fern
Dryopteris erthyrosora ‘Brilliance’

In the spring, Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance’ produces new bright orange/salmon and rose-toned fronds. As the fronds mature, they turn a shiny dark green during the summer. ‘Brilliance’ adds intense and lustrous color in partial to fully shaded landscape plantings. This evergreen fern reaches 18 to 24 inches tall and 30 inches wide.

Like most dryopteris, ‘Brilliance’ is drought tolerant once established and continues to look good after many companion shrubs show signs of wilting. This deer-resistant plant is hardy to Zones 5 to 8 and is tolerant of a wide range of planting conditions. Its slowly spreading habit and ability to tolerate neglect make it well-suited for use as a groundcover.

Koidzuma’s Wood Fern
Dryopteris koidzumiana

Dryopteris koidzumiana is an evergreen fern that is highly regarded for its colorful burgundy- to brick-red new growth that emerges during the summer. The wait for its intense color display, which lasts well into the summer, is well worth it. The deep-red color of the new fronds offers a beautiful contrast to the mature sage-green foliage.

This fern has an open and upright habit reaching 18 to 24 inches tall and 18 inches wide. It should be planted in a well-drained growing medium and provided with partial shade. With its leathery fronds, it makes a great specimen plant or can be placed in the landscape to provide a colorful accent or as a border plant. Evergreen in milder climates, it is hardy in Zones 7 to 10.

Golden Mist Wood Fern
Dryopteris labordei

Dryopteris labordei is an Australian discovery of what has also been classified as Dryopteris indusiata. The new fronds of this evergreen fern are yellow and contrast well with its mature, glossy, deep-green foliage. The arching, triangular-shaped fronds reach a height of 18 to 24 inches and a spread of 24 inches.

This deer- and rabbit-resistant plant does best in partial shade and is excellent for mass plantings in moist woodland areas. It is hardy in Zones 5 to 8.

Variegated Cretan Brake Fern
Pteris cretica var. albolineata

Since this very popular variegated fern is hardy in Zones 9 to 12, it is used primarily as an annual in the landscape or as a specimen container plant or in combinations including dish gardens. It is well-suited for indoor use. Don’t allow the growing medium to dry out.

Its fronds have a cream-white center and white lateral veins radiating to dark green. The plant reaches 12 to 18 inches tall and 18 inches wide.

Ruby Red Spikemoss
Selaginella erythropus ‘Sanguinea’

Similar in growth habit to Krauss spikemoss, this particular species is very distinctive with its bright-red stems and leaves (fronds) that have a dark-green upper leaf surface and ruby-red undersides. In cold temperatures, the upper surface of the foliage also turns red.

The striking color contrast is particularly nice in specimen containers, combination planters and hanging baskets and as an indoor houseplant. Its spreading habit makes it a good groundcover in shaded locations. This semi-evergreen fern is less than 12 inches tall and approximately 24 inches wide. It is hardy in Zones 8 to 12.

Jeweled Chain Fern
Woodwardia unigemmata

Tissue culture has enabled this Eastern Asian native, semi-evergreen fern to become commercially available. The new fronds are a brilliant red. The older fronds, which turn a dark green, grow to 3 to 7 feet long and naturally arch toward the ground, forming a cascade of colored foliage. A bulbil forms at the tip of each frond, weighing it down. The plant looks particularly beautiful planted atop a wall and allowed to drape downward. It is hardy in Zones 8 to 10.

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...

October 17, 2017

14 New Shrubs With Fringe Benefits

What’s popular with shrubs? Consumers want varieties that will give them more return on their investment, in terms of long-lasting blooms and multi-season appeal that lasts from spring until fall and at times stretches into the winter months. Here are 14 new varieties of shrubs and sub-shrubs to consider for your product mix in 2018.

Read More

October 14, 2017

PlantPeddler Hosting Poinsettia Variety Day in December

The event will feature side-by-side comparisons of more than 100 commercial and pre-released varieties from seven breeders.

Read More

October 10, 2017

Coastal Callas Is a Dream Fulfilled for Founder Adrian Espinoza

Adrian Espinoza and his family founded Rancho Espinoza Inc. and Coastal Callas in California seven years ago with a mission and purpose to provide consistent quality and reliable supply of calla lilies to the marketplace.

Read More
Latest Stories

October 17, 2017

14 New Shrubs With Fringe Benefits

What’s popular with shrubs? Consumers want varieties that will give them more return on their investment, in terms of long-lasting blooms and multi-season appeal that lasts from spring until fall and at times stretches into the winter months. Here are 14 new varieties of shrubs and sub-shrubs to consider for your product mix in 2018.

Read More

October 14, 2017

PlantPeddler Hosting Poinsettia Variety Day in December

The event will feature side-by-side comparisons of more than 100 commercial and pre-released varieties from seven breeders.

Read More

October 10, 2017

Coastal Callas Is a Dream Fulfilled for Founder Adrian …

Adrian Espinoza and his family founded Rancho Espinoza Inc. and Coastal Callas in California seven years ago with a mission and purpose to provide consistent quality and reliable supply of calla lilies to the marketplace.

Read More
Azalea Encore Autumn Bonfire

October 4, 2017

Big Changes on the Horizon for Woody Ornamentals

The future looks bright for the woody ornamentals market, with exciting new varieties in the pipeline that will offer greater disease resistance, cold hardiness, bloom capacity, and more.

Read More

October 3, 2017

25 New Blooming Potted Plants for Luxury Sales

Consider these new blooming potted plant varieties that offer full blooms, unique foliage, and a touch of extravagance and easy maintenance for time-strapped customers who want to pamper themselves.

Read More
Hydrangea 'Berry White' (Bailey Nurseries)

October 2, 2017

Woody Ornamentals Market Set for Growth

The woody ornamentals market is looking up. Now, out-of-the box thinking about product offerings and consumer education will keep things moving in the right direction.

Read More

September 27, 2017

New Mum Intros From California Spring Trials 2017

For fall gardening product selection, you can't go wrong with offering mums. Here are a few of the new introductions that we saw at California Spring Trials 2017 that will be making their retail debut in 2018.

Read More
Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer BloomStruck’ (Bailey Nurseries)

September 26, 2017

Bailey Nurseries Enhances Product Development Program, …

Plant Introductions, which Bailey purchased almost three years ago, is being rebranded as Bailey Innovations, an entity that will breed and trial new varieties in Georgia.

Read More
Green Fuse Lupine Staircase Pink

September 24, 2017

How to Effectively Grow Staircase Lupine

The Staircase Lupine series, part of Green Fuse Botanicals’ First Light Perennials collection, has the potential to put on a great display with solid and bicolor hues.

Read More
Terra Nova 2018 Catalog

September 23, 2017

Terra Nova Nurseries’ Latest Plant Catalog is Now Avail…

The new 2017-2018 plant catalog, which features hundreds of varieties, series, and collections from Terra Nova Nurseries, pays homage to the company’s 25th anniversary.

Read More
Armitage GWA Buffalo Tour 5

September 21, 2017

Tour of Buffalo Gardens Reveals Hidden Gems And Communi…

This past August, Allan Armitage joined the Association for Garden Communicators on a tour of Buffalo. It was a reminder that that we can make a difference in neighborhoods, in cities, and in people’s lives.

Read More
Suntory Grandessa argyranthemum - feature

September 18, 2017

Breeders Open Availability for Unrooted Cuttings; Here&…

With new avenues for buying young plants for vegetative production, growers should have an easier time finding availability and receiving shipments of unrooted cuttings for the coming seasons.

Read More
Ball, Tagawa Succulents Partnership

September 14, 2017

Ball Seed to Partner With Tagawa Greenhouses on New Suc…

The new program includes in-demand retail products that are popular with younger shoppers, allowing growers to easily build a comprehensive succulent program and stay on-trend in the marketplace.

Read More
Strait-Laced Elderberry

September 10, 2017

Check Out the Top Varieties On Display at Farwest 2017

A panel of plant experts, along with show attendees, selected their favorite offerings during the Farwest 2017 New Varieties Showcase.

Read More

September 5, 2017

Hort Couture Announces New Propagation and Broker Partn…

The new grower-propagator partners are deeply vested in the independent garden center channel with propagation expertise, as well as finished production focused on the independent grower.

Read More
Helianthus Sunfinity (Syngenta Flowers)

September 3, 2017

Growing Tips for Helianthus Sunflower ‘Sunfinity…

This annual sunflower is a profuse bloomer with strong branching that produces multiple flowers per plant from spring to fall.

Read More
Ball Seed Field Day 2017

September 2, 2017

Highlights from Ball Seed’s Annual Field Day and Landsc…

Attendees of the one-day event had the opportunity to see new plants in up-close-and-personal trials, and engage with speakers and product experts.

Read More
Bidens Popstar (Kientzler)

August 31, 2017

Allan Armitage: Why I’ve Become a Fan of Bidens

The rather boring plant with mundane daisy-yellow flowers has morphed into a vigorous plant carrying colorful flowers that seems to be comfortable in most of the country.

Read More