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Fronds of most types turn brown after repeated frosts. Leave dead foliage on plants through winter to provide mulch and to shelter delicate emerging fronds in early spring; cut back after new fronds have appeared. Species described here prefer rich, damp soil and will tolerate considerable sun if grown in constantly moist soil. Propagate by dividing old clumps in early spring.

Athyrium filix-femina
Athyrium filix-femina

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Athyrium filix-femina

Native to much of North America. To 4 ft. or taller, 2–3 ft. wide. Thin, finely divided fronds. Rootstock rises up on older plants to make short trunk. Vertical effect; narrow at bottom, spreading at top. Specialists stock many varieties with oddly cut and feathered fronds. Vigorous root system can be invasive.


Popular hybrid between Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’ and A. filix femina. Upright growth to about 2 1/2 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide, with silvery gray fronds and dark purple midribs.

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