© RHS / Tim Sandall



Common name: Lady fern

These are mainly deciduous ferns, with feathery, finely divided foliage. They are easy to grow in a shady spot in damp soil, either alongside other ferns or in a mixed woodland-edge planting scheme.


Feathery, lace-like foliage unfurls from a central crown in spring. Cultivars range from spreading ground-huggers just 20cm (8in) high to stately shuttlecocks reaching 1.2m (4ft) tall.


These ferns grow best in moist, but not waterlogged, neutral to acidic soil, in shade or partial shade.


Dry and sunny locations will cause the foliage to scorch and turn brown.

Did you know?

The name Athyrium is thought to derive from the Greek 'athoros', which means good at breeding, referring to the plants' ability to propagate readily from spores.

Growing guide

Athyrium we recommend

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Useful advice

Shade gardening

Shade gardening

Shade planting: annuals, bulbs and perennials

Shade planting: annuals, bulbs and perennials

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