Top 10 shade plants
Japanese painted fern
5. Japanese painted fern
One of the loveliest hardy garden ferns, Japanese painted fern is stunning because its fronds mix tones of purple, red, silver, gray, and green. Japanese painted fern is deciduous, so it dies to the ground each winter but looks fabulous when planted with an evergreen fern. A number of selections have recently become available, including 'Ghost', 'Silver Falls', and 'Branford Beauty.'
Growing: Japanese painted ferns (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum) are hardy in Zones 5-8, though they usually survive well in colder climates when mulched well for winter. The plants like soil that's rich in organic matter. Japanese painted fern varieties grow about 12 inches tall.
Tip: Plant Japanese painted fern near other plants that have burgundy or red tones to help accentuate those shades in its fronds.
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