Wood Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora)

Wood Fern Plant Features

If you think ferns are fussy and hard to care for, think again. Wood fern, also called Japanese shield fern, is an attractive easy-care fern that adds beautiful texture and color to shaded and woodland gardens. Some varieties of wood fern are also prized for their new growth, which emerges a coppery, pink, or orange color. And, when fall comes, some of the fronds may also develop reddish or purple tones. Red spore clusters on the bottoms of the fronds add an extra touch of color throughout the season. In frost free regions, wood fern retains its foliage through the winter. It grows 2 feet tall and wide. Hardy from zones 5 to 8.

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Wood Fern Growing Instructions

Wood fern grows best in moist, well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter. Add compost, leaf mold and/or rotted manure to the soil before planting. Wood fern is also deer resistant and has almost no insect or disease problems. The plants are relatively slow growing so buy the largest specimens you can afford. Wood fern will also grow in wet locations so it's a good choice for the edge of a water garden or stream.

Note: Wood fern is not intended for human or animal consumption.
  • Water


  • Light

    Outside: Shade

  • Colors



  • Special Features

    Colorful foliage

    Deer/rabbit resistant

Complement your Wood Fern

The feathery flower stalks of astilbe and the pretty foliage of Autumn fern look great together.

Add an extra dose of spring color to your shade garden with columbine. They are ideal companions for Autumn fern.

Our favorite varieties

Brilliance Autumn Fern

Brilliance Autumn Fern

Dryopteris erythrosora 'Brilliance'

Who knew that a fern could be so colorful? ‘Brilliance’ autumn fern sends up pink fiddleheads in the spring that turn coppery-orange as they unfurl. When the fronds age they gradually turn dark green, but because all the new growth is coppery, the plant always looks like a tapestry.

Autumn Fern

Autumn Fern

Dryopteris erythrosora

Autumn fern is a fun variety for the shade garden that shows off coppery-orange new growth. It fades to green in summer. In warm-winter climates, autumn fern is evergreen.

Golden Mist Wood Fern

Golden Mist Wood Fern

Dryopteris labordei 'Golden Mist'

Golden Mist wood fern shows off lovely golden-yellow new growth that matures to a rich, deep green color. It grows 2 feet tall. Zones 5-8

Dixie Wood Fern

Dixie Wood Fern

Dryopteris x australis

Dixie wood fern shows off lustrous dark green leaves that remain evergreen in mild-winter climates. It's a little bigger than other wood ferns; it can reach 4 feet tall.