Athyrium Niponicum is known as the Japanese Painted Fern because of the silvery metallic colour that the fronds develop set against the burgundy red stems and midrib. Pewter Lace earns its name on account of the shade of silver that tinges the fronds through the summer months. An attractive fern, happiest in light shade where it will grow up to 18 in. Lime-free soil. 2 litre pot.


Think of a pewter tankard, as seen hanging behind all the best bars, and you will have a good notion of the silvery grey sheen that graces the arching fronds of this beautiful deciduous fern. There are a number of named varieties of the species Athyrium Niponicum var. pictum, and Pewter Lace is one of the more distinctive ones. It was developed by the prolific plant producers Terra Nova Nurseries in the USA and first appeared on the market around 15 years ago, since when it has become rightly popular as a choice planting in a shady corner.

There seems to be some confusion about how many instances of the letter p there are in the word Niponicum: we always used to spell it with a double p, then switched to just one, thinking that was more correct, but now we’re just confused about the whole thing.

Athyrium is not the quickest growing thing on the planet but once established (which won’t take that long), it will form a nice speading but not invasive clump of silvery loveliness. It prefers a soil on the acid side but will be perfectly happy with a neutral PH: just don’t expect it to be terribly happy on chalk.

This video offers a brief introduction to Athryrium Niponicum var. pictum along with some growing advice.

Athyrium Niponicum Pewter Lace is a hardy deciduous fern with silver grey fronds and burgundy red stems and midrib suitable for light shade and acid soil.

A Terra Nova introduction. Photo by Terra Nova Nurseries.

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