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...
Double Whammy Merchandise Display At CAST2015

May 28, 2015

Grow Inspiration To Grow The Horticulture Industry

We need to work together as the horticulture industry to inspire and instruct consumers with our plant knowledge and marketing expertise.

Read More

May 28, 2015 And Assist Consumers With Growing And Finding Plants

The recently launched and websites offer growing and maintenance tips, where-to-buy information and design ideas to help consumers have success with growing and finding plants.

Read More
Cal-Poly fields

May 27, 2015

Cal-Poly Students And Faculty Ask Industry To Help Save Horticulture Facilities

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, has released an update to its Master Plan that indicates that almost all of its orchards, horticulture facilities and field sites could be repurposed for buildings, including residential, and/or recreational space. According to a letter from Scott Steinmaus, the horticulture and crop science department head, the proposed changes directly affect the current orchard plantings and other long term plans for the department. The department is committed to making sure that its facilities remain invaluable teaching environments that enable its students to learn about crop, fruit and horticulture production, food safety and pest protection, in addition to providing sites for externally funded research projects that benefit the industry. Industry members are invited to submit comments to the university. According to Steinmaus, a recent eMail to the Cal-Poly community from the university president indicates that all of the input gathered through the end of May will be studied by the planning […]

Read More
Latest Stories

May 27, 2015

Vote For Your Favorite New Annual For The 2015 Readers&…

VOTING IS NOW OPEN FOR: ANNUALS It’s time for you, our readers, to decide which variety is picked as the best new introduction in 2015. We’ve expanded our Readers’ Choice program to include a wider variety of plants. Breeders have entered their best varieties by category and the winners will advance as finalists to face off to win the Readers’ Choice Award. Categories are Annuals, Perennials, Edibles and the Best of the Rest. Finalists will be announced in June and the Readers’ Choice winner will be announced July 13 at Greenhouse Grower’s prestigious Evening Of Excellence event at Cultivate’15. Which annual is the most promising introduction? Vote here now! Thanks to our 2015 Medal Of Excellence sponsors, Landmark Plastics and Stockosorb by Evonik. Readers’ Choice Voting Schedule: Annuals – May 22 to May 28 (closes at 12 a.m. EST) Perennials – May 29 to June 4 (closes at 12 a.m. EST) Edibles – […]

Read More
Allan Armitage At Tradeshow

May 15, 2015

Allan Armitage On Plants: We Are Alive And Well, Thank …

Allan Armitage tells why the horticulture industry is about the people, not the plants, not the marketing and not the social media, and why horticulture is here to stay.

Read More

May 6, 2015

Costa Farms Releases 2015 Midseason Top Performers

Costa Farms has announced the mid-season top performers in its 2015 Season Premier Trial Garden. Its research and development team has been working to grow and evaluate hundreds of varieties and their findings have been published online.The plants presented in the report have thrived in Miami’s mid-spring conditions. Every spring, the company’s research and development team trials more than 500 varieties of annuals, perennials and tropical plants from plant breeders around the world. All of the varieties have been tested in Costa Farms’ 2-acre Season Premier Trial Garden in Miami, Fla. The team assesses the plants for abundance of bloom, crop uniformity and overall performance. Within the report, the varieties are organized by their color. “There’s one thing pretty much everyone who shops has in mind when they step into a garden center: color,” the report states. Because of that, the report is divided by hue, so everyone can zero in on their favorite. Click here to […]

Read More

May 1, 2015

18 New Grasses To Grow

Ornamental grasses fit in with the needs of today’s landscapers and consumers better than ever. Whether your customers are looking for creative solutions for patio containers or a mass planting in a landscape, some of the 18 new varieties included here are sure to meet the need.

Read More
PP&L CAST 2015 intros

April 22, 2015

6 Breeding Companies Serve Up New Varieties At Pacific …

Pacific Plug & Liner’s theme this year, Labyrinth, a conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants, was perfectly topped off (pun intended) with fascinators for the women and newsboy caps for the men. The PP&L team dressed their part to act out the gothic “conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants.” Truly, the displays looked like they practically popped out of a catalog, and the costumes were a nice touch. Retailers take heed, the fully merchandised displays at Pacific Plug & Liner are worthy of emulating. We’ll let the pictures tell the story of all the fabulous variety introductions presented at  Pacific Plug & Liner’s 2015 California Spring Trials, where Cultivaris, Cohen Nurseries, Histil Nurseries, Jaldety Nurseries, Southern Living/Sunset Collection and Pacific Plug & Liner all highlighted their 2016 introductions.  

Read More
Speedling 2015 CAST intros

April 22, 2015

Speedling Inc. Presents New Varieties From ABZ Seeds, H…

You name it, we saw it at Speedling's California Spring Trials location in San Juan Bautista, where five companies showed off their new introductions for 2016.

Read More
Danziger_Coreopsis_Solanna Glow1

April 22, 2015

Industry Perspective: McHutchison’s Vaughn Fletch…

Vaughn Fletcher with McHutchison Horticultural Distributors is part of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence For Industry’s Choice Panel. Fletcher recounts some of the standout varieties he saw while visiting Danziger "Dan" Flower Farms and Beekenkamp during California Spring Trials.

Read More

April 22, 2015

Allan Armitage Finds A Lot To Love On His Last Day At T…

On the last day of the 2015 California Spring Trials, Allan Armitage and the Greenhouse Grower team visited three stops that accounted for 12 breeding companies. From annuals and perennials to herbs and strawberries, Armitage found plenty to get excited about.

Read More
Viola 'Yellow Purple Wing'

April 21, 2015

Benary Combines Fun Marketing Ideas With Strong New Pla…

It's no surprise that Benary, which built its company on begonia breeding more than 100 years ago, still has a magical touch when it comes to the genus. Two standouts among a field of great introductions were begonias.

Read More
Syngenta CAST 2015

April 21, 2015

Syngenta’s Getting Crafty With Containers

Containers seem to be the name of the game for Syngenta, perhaps because the company knows that the consumer garden of today and of the future is on the deck. From Kwik Kombos to veggies, Syngenta’s California Spring Trials display provided a variety of options and information that growers and retailers can use to drive consumer success. Bengal is a new series of F1 seed gerberas in six classic colors. The big brother to the popular Jaguar gerbera series, Bengal gerberas have a larger flower but remain compact in containers, and they’re ideal for six-inch and larger pots. The grandiflora F1 hybrid Tritunia series is a compilation of genetics from three different petunia lines, to allow Syngenta Flowers to declutter the market and growers to simplify their orders. Tritunia is available in 20 colors and three mixes. Kwik Kombos, Syngenta’s line of mixed containers, is a big deal for the breeder and […]

Read More
Danziger CAST 2015

April 21, 2015

Danziger Highlights The Best Of Its 2016 New Variety In…

After a long day during California Spring Trials (CAST), Vice President of Marketing Chanochi Zaks highlighted the cream of the crop among Danziger “Dan” Flower Farm’s new varieties. Check out the slideshow to see the 10 varieties that CAST attendees were most excited about.

Read More

April 20, 2015

Three Michigan State University On-Demand Webinars Offe…

The first rule of effective insect and disease control for vegetables is to take action to prevent problems before they occur. But in order to do that, you need to have an effective pest and disease management strategy in place that incorporates best practices to ensure a successful outcome. Michigan State University offers three pest and disease management on-demand webinars that will get you started and keep you on the right track.

Read More

April 20, 2015

Sakata’s Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ Steals The Show In S…

Since January, when I first saw celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ in the landscape at Costa Farms’ Season Premier, I knew it looked like a great plant that would garner some serious attention. And sure enough, up and down the trials road, people were talking about Sakata’s hot new introduction. Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ is a seed-propagated, plume-type celosia that is said to actually perform better with less fertilizer and water. If it’s fed too much, its dark leaves lose their reddish-purple coloring and turn green, and by restricting water, it tends to bloom more. It tends to be a more vigorous plant than other plume-type celosias, and its large blooms are quite attractive. Sakata also introduced a new series of African Marigolds. Proud Mari comes in Orange, Yellow and Gold, and has huge, fist-sized flowers that bloom vigorously. New colors in SuperCal petunias are L.A. Yellow and Pink, and they are fabulous additions […]

Read More

April 17, 2015

Sakata Seed Uses California Spring Trials Display Plant…

Sakata Seed America is putting its post-CAST (California Spring Trials) plants and flowers to good use to support events in local California communities of Salinas and Morgan Hill. The plants, along with donations through Sakata's Charitable Giving Program, will support three fun-filled community events that promote healthy lifestyles and support the agricultural industry.

Read More

April 17, 2015

Allan Armitage’s Favorite Plants From Proven Winn…

Between visiting California Spring Trial giants like Proven Winners, Syngenta and Danziger, Allan Armitage saw a lot of great plants in one day. Despite the size of the challenge, Dr. Armitage finds a few favorites he thinks you should try.

Read More
Gazania hybrid 'Amber Ice' (Cultivaris)

April 17, 2015

The 80/20 Theory Approach To Inventory Selection Is Put…

Tim Runte of Calloway Gardens is a member of Greenhouse Grower's Medal Of Excellence For Industry's Choice Panel. Here, he shares how he determines which plants shown at this year's California Spring Trials will make the cut at his retail stores.

Read More

April 17, 2015

Trends At California Spring Trials: AmericanHort’…

Michael Geary, CEO and president of AmericanHort, hit the road during California Spring Trials, and noted trends he saw at many of the stops. Here's one that he says we'll need to consider carefully.

Read More

April 17, 2015

Golden State Bulb At Spring Trials Has Great Appeal For…

While Golden State Bulb is a smaller stop at California Spring Trials, it’s always a treat. You not only get to see less common plants like calla lilies and eucomis, you also get to meet the passionate breeders who developed the plants you’re seeing. For plant geeks, this is a fun stop. First up, the Aloha Lily series of pineapple lily or eucomis was introduced last year, and a new variety, the dark red Kona, joined the lineup. The team at Golden State would like to see this sweet-scented series treated much like orchids by consumers. Like orchids, Aloha Lily does well in low light and has blooms that last two to three months. Now that homeowners have grown accustomed to having orchids, it just may be time to test which other long-flowering plant they would be willing to embrace. Golden State would like to see consumers approach callas in a […]

Read More