Lady in Red™ Fern

Athyrium filix-femina ‘Lady in Red’

Description & Overview

Vibrant burgundy color runs through the veins creating a striking contrast with fine-textured, lacy green fronds on this native cultivar, Lady In Red™ Fern. A volunteer “nativar” selection found by the New England Wildflower Society in Massachusetts, this perennial fern brings a new and enticing feel to the tried and true Lady Fern. A great addition to any woodland garden, rock garden, or shady pathway.

Core Characteristics

Wisconsin Native: No – Variety of North American Native
Mature Height: 30-36″
Mature Spread: 24″
Growth Rate: Perennial
Growth Form: Upright
Light Requirements: Partial Shade to Full Shade
Site Requirements: Moist, organically rich soil
Flower: Non-flowering
Bloom Period: NA
Foliage: Deep green-burgundy stems
Fall Color: None
Fruit Notes: Reproduces by spores

Suggested Uses:

Lady in Red prefers a moist and organically rich site, away from direct sun. Tolerant of partial sun, dappled sunlight, and an occasional dry spell, this perennial fern will form clumps of beautiful bright green fronds in versatile site locations. Typically found in woodland areas, along banks of rivers, or in a rock garden. True to its straight species “mother”, Lady Fern (Athyrium felix-femina), it can tolerant slightly more sun than other ferns if the soil stays moist year-round. So, it is suitable for siting on the clearing of a deciduous forest that needs arching foliage to brighten the space.

Wildlife Value:

Again, most similar to straight species Athyrium felix-femina, this cultivar poses value to small mammals and insects on the landscape floor, by creating protection from predators and heat. Spent stocks are often used by birds in nesting, and although the benefits may seem minimal to other native perennials, Lady in Red™ provides many native mammals, amphibians and insects a great natural shelter.

Maintenance Tips:

Easily grown in rich, moist or well-drained soil, plant in part shade to full shade. A great selection for a woodland space, allowed to naturalize. If used in a confined space, such as a border or planting bed it may need division in spring every 2-3 years. Do not prune, rather allow to die back every year to come back in early spring good as new.


Lady in Red™ Fern is rabbit tolerant and heavy shade tolerant. It is not susceptible to any significant pest or diseases. Generally, the most common issue that occurs is too much sunlight = the plant drying out. This is when siting correctly comes into play. Be sure that if the planting location receives close to 4 hours of sunlight daily, the soil stays consistently moist.

Leaf Lore:

Synonymous with Athyrium angustum f. rubellum ‘Lady in Red’.

Its specific epithet comes from Latin word ‘filix’ meaning fern and ‘femina’ meaning woman, confirmed by the common name lady fern. Lady in Red™ gets its common name from the striking red stripes running through its fronds.

Companion Plants:

Planted in a sheltered shade garden, accent with other shade loving natives like Jack in the Pulpit, Christmas Fern, and Giant Solomon’s Seal. Combine with Hot Lips Turtlehead to play with it’s reddish-pink undertones.

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