Athyrium filix-femina 'Encourage'
Common Name: lady fern
Type: Fern
Family: Woodsiaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Tolerate: Rabbit, Heavy Shade

Culture

Easily grown in rich, medium moisture, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade. Tolerates drier soils than many other ferns. Will tolerate full sun, however, only if soil is kept constantly moist. Shelter from wind to protect fronds from breaking. Divide clumps in spring every few years to reposition crowns at the soil level.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Athyrium filix-femina, commonly called lady fern, is a deciduous fern that features lacy-cut, erect or ascending, 2 to 3-pinnate or pinnatifid, finely-divided, lanceolate, light green fronds which grow in a dense circular shuttlecock-like clump to 2-3' tall. Each frond (leaf) has twenty to thirty pairs of elliptic non-opposite pinna (leaflets) with narrow pointed tips. Each pinna is divided into deeply-cut lanceolate to oblong pinnules (subleaflets). Sori and indusia are found on the undersides of the pinnules. This is a circumglobal species which is found in rich moist woods, thickets, fields, meadows and ravines throughout northern North America, Europe and Asia.

Genus name comes from Greek athyros meaning doorless in reference to the slowly opening hinged indusia (spore covers).

Specific epithet comes from Latin filix meaning fern and femina meaning woman as confirmed by the common name of lady fern.

‘Encourage’ is a compact, deciduous lady fern cultivar that typically grows in a clump to 18” tall and to 12” wide. Bright green fronds are crested and tassled.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Fronds frequently become somewhat tattered in appearance by mid summer.

Garden Uses

Great selection for a shady area of the landscape in need of a small but easy-to-grow fern. Rock gardens, woodland gardens, shaded border fronts or shade gardens. Also effective in shaded areas along streams or ponds.