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...
SunPatiens Sakata Medal of Excellence Feature

June 29, 2016

SunPatiens Earns The 2016 Medal Of Excellence In Marketing Award

With its reputation for excellent garden performance from spring to frost, and as a problem-solver for Impatiens Downy Mildew, SunPatiens has become a “hero plant” that helps gardeners succeed.

Read More
Kelly Norris - feature

June 28, 2016

Kelly Norris: Three Variety Trends That Caught My Eye This Spring

My reflections on promising new plants, the realities of market penetration, and adding value along the supply chain.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

June 25, 2016

Three Types Of Plant Consumers To Watch

There are three emerging groups of plant consumers that you should be targeting for plant sales in the future, according to Allan Armitage.

Read More
Latest Stories
SunPatiens Sakata Medal of Excellence Feature

June 29, 2016

SunPatiens Earns The 2016 Medal Of Excellence In Market…

With its reputation for excellent garden performance from spring to frost, and as a problem-solver for Impatiens Downy Mildew, SunPatiens has become a “hero plant” that helps gardeners succeed.

Read More
Kelly Norris - feature

June 28, 2016

Kelly Norris: Three Variety Trends That Caught My Eye T…

My reflections on promising new plants, the realities of market penetration, and adding value along the supply chain.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

June 25, 2016

Three Types Of Plant Consumers To Watch

There are three emerging groups of plant consumers that you should be targeting for plant sales in the future, according to Allan Armitage.

Read More
FleuroStar Award Ceremony

June 20, 2016

Begonia Hybrid ‘Miss Malibu’ Takes Home FleuroStar Awar…

The award from Fleuroselect was announced at the Green Inspiration Event in Amsterdam.

Read More
Caryopteris 'Beyond Midnight Bluebeard'

June 20, 2016

Keep The Sales Coming With 16 New Blooming Varieties Fo…

Plants that put on a show from first frost long into fall and offer the color options consumers want for their gardens go a long way toward extending sales further into the season and can help maintain your sales momentum going strong. Check out these 16 new blooming varieties, both traditional favorites and new alternatives, for your fall crop selection.

Read More
'Osaka' Flowering Cabbage (Sakata Ornamentals)

June 18, 2016

Mark Your Calendar For Sakata Seed Trials In August

Sakata has set two dates for its California-based trials: Aug. 15-17 in Salinas, and Aug. 17-19 in Woodland.

Read More
Tomato Congress Logo

June 15, 2016

International Tomato Congress In Mexico Will Focus On G…

The event, which takes place in San Luis Potosi from July 20-22, will feature discussions on production strategies, cost management in protected structures, and optimizing your greenhouse environment.

Read More
Nir Nursery Wax Flower Pot Plant

June 14, 2016

Danziger Reaches Deal To Distribute Nir Nursery Varieti…

With the agreement, Danziger becomes the exclusive distributor of Nir’s product line, which includes cut flowers, foliage, pot, and garden plants.

Read More

June 14, 2016

Dümmen Orange Expands Its Succulent Offerings Through N…

According to Dümmen Operations Director Kate Santos, succulents are an attractive growth category because of their ease of use, shelf life in stores, drought tolerance, and versatility in application.

Read More
'Osaka' Flowering Cabbage (Sakata Ornamentals)

June 14, 2016

New Cool Season, Vegetable, And Foliage Crops For Fall …

Whether you’re providing pansies and violas to the garden center for fall color or decorative edibles to grace patio containers, consider these 16 varieties for fall crop sales, newly introduced for 2016 and hitting retail in 2017.

Read More
Calibrachoa Chameleon Sunshine Berry (Westflowers) - Feature

June 9, 2016

Fall Crop Alternatives That Can Increase Your Sales

There’s a lot of competition for grabbing your share of fall mum sales. Give your program a boost with new varieties that complement traditional fall crops.

Read More

June 7, 2016

It’s Time To Rethink The Value And Timing Of Cali…

Fourteen years ago, Greenhouse Grower saw an opportunity to bring next-day coverage of California Pack Trials (now California Spring Trials or CAST) to your inbox. The objective was to be your eyes and ears on location, to report the debut of the newest varieties and marketing programs, and report major breeder announcements, especially for those not attending. We continued to develop new story-telling tools with video capabilities, slideshows, and more. And once social media took hold, everyone attending CAST became reporters of their favorite varieties and displays at trials. So we’re left with the question — how should we continue to evolve our coverage, to bring the most value for you? It’s easy to fall into a certain pattern, to stick with what works — or seems to work. And just because you’re working really hard at something that you’ve had success with in the past, it doesn’t mean it’s […]

Read More
Carex 'Eversheen' (Hoffman Nursery)

June 7, 2016

Hoffman Nursery Has A New 30-Year Anniversary Look!

The new redesign of the Hoffman Nursery website packs in more content than ever with updated resources and 30 years of experience growing grasses.

Read More
GG June Cover image

June 6, 2016

The State Of Plant Breeding In 2016

Breeding companies look to strengthen their competitive advantage, easing the way for growers to procure new plant varieties and for consumers to grow with confidence.

Read More
Petunia Queen of Hearts

June 1, 2016

Danziger Introducing New Petunia Amore Series, And More…

Danziger “Dan” Flower Farm is planning to introduce 60 new varieties from its 2016-17 collection at the annual event, including petunias, bidens, and calibrachoa.

Read More
Nathan Lamkey Chuck Pavlich Allan Armitage talk about muckgenia

May 31, 2016

Allan Armitage: Three Trends (Good And Bad) That Caught…

We need to put the same energies we invest into California Spring Trials to get plants into consumers’ hands and encourage young people in the industry to attend.

Read More
National Garden Bureau California Vegetable Summer Trials

May 26, 2016

California Summer Vegetable Trials In August Will Cover…

The National Garden Bureau is once again organizing summer vegetables trials this August in California, giving attendees the opportunity to visit with several breeding companies.

Read More
Eason 2017 Perennials Guide

May 25, 2016

Eason Horticultural Resources Releases New Perennials G…

The two guides are available in digital and print versions and offer information from several breeders.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]