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Zones 5-8
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Zones 5-8

Autumn Fern

Dryopteris erythrosora

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Autumn Fern

Dryopteris erythrosora

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Fall arrives in spring with the Autumn Fern, or at least it can look that way. The coppery tints of the new fronds that rise from the center in spring do have a suggestion of fall, but the rich green of the evergreen foliage says summer all year. A classic fern with 2-foot long triangular fronds with a central stalk carrying many small leaflets growing sideways, these begin as curious clenched stalks that gradually uncurl, beginning coppery bronze and then turning bright green by early summer. A perfect medium-sized fern for planting in damp soil anywhere, it’s more sun-tolerant than many ferns, so it’s ideal for those spots that receive some sun each day. Grow it beneath trees, by water, along a shady walk or in woodlands. In fall turn over a mature frond to see the red spore cases that give this plant its botanical name. This is not a native fern of North America.

  • Copper-tinted new spring fronds
  • Bold, rich green evergreen foliage
  • More sun tolerant than many ferns
  • Untouched by deer or rabbits
  • Red spore capsules under mature leaves

Plant the Autumn Fern in all light levels, because it is more tolerant of direct sun than many other ferns are. Needs extra water when growing in sun. It will grow well in dappled shade beneath trees, and even in deeper full shade if the soil is not dry. Plant in moist, well-drained soil with plenty of organic material, such as rotted leaves or compost added. Water new plants generously and often, until they are well-established. Normally free of pests and diseases, and left alone by deer and rabbits. Remove any old damaged fronds in spring when you see new growth emerging.

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