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Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
AUTUMN FERN, JAPANESE SHIELD FERN, COPPER SHIELD FERN
syn. Aspidium erythrosorum, Dryopteris cystolepidota, Lastrea erythrosora, Nephrodium erythrosorum
Pronounced: dry-OP-ter-iss e-rith-ro-SO-ra
Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, and Philippines.
Sunset zones 2-9, 14-24.
USDA zones: 5-9.
Heat zones: 9-5.
Height: 24 inches (60 cm).
Width: 15 inches (38 cm).
Flowering attributes: Red sori on underside of fronds.
Two to three pinnate fronds, in 10 to 15 pairs; leathery, evergreen foliage with new growth coppery reds, russets and yellows.
Shade to bright shade.
Humus rich, moist soil.
Side dress with well-rotted leaf mould or compost in spring and at planting time.
Sow spores when ripe.
Divide in spring or autumn.
Prune dying fronds after new growth begins in spring.
Rainy Side Notes
Dryopteris comes from the Greek words, drys meaning oak and pteris meaning fern. Its normal habitat is on a woodland floor in the lowlands of its native haunts.
This fern is all about foliage that looks great, year round. The new fronds have tints of autumn colors in spring, which is how it came to be called by its common name, Autumn fern. However, its autumn coloring appears in fall as well. The color fades into a luxuriant green by summer. The evergreen foliage adds to the winter shade garden, although by the end of winter it is looking tattered and ready for pruning when new growth begins. Be careful not to prune too soon, as it can weaken the fern.
Autumn fern is very drought tolerant once it is established in the garden, a plus for our annual summer drought. It is supposed to be deer-resistant, but as with all deer-resistant plants, it usually depends on the herd. One can only hope your herd will turn its nose up to it.
Martha Stewart recommends this fern for our gardens. I agree with her recommendation; if I could have only one fern, this might be the one I would seriously consider. Obviously, others feel the same way about this fern, as it was chosen as a Great Plant Pick and awarded a Garden of Merit Award by the Royal Horticultural Society.
Photographed in author's garden.