Japanese Painted Fern Indoors - Knowledgebase Question

Knoxville, TN
Avatar for btramel
Question by btramel
November 16, 2000
I have a Japanese painted fern that I brought to college with me from home. It was doing well at home, my mom had it in a planter, but it is about to be winter and I didn't want it to die. Well, it is not doing very well inside. How should I take care of it? There is something on the underside of the leaves, they look like spores or something. What are those?

Answer from NGA
November 16, 2000
Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum) thrives in shaded moist garden conditions with loose, well-draining soil. It is considered a deciduous fern, meaning it naturally dies back in the fall when weather turns, but its root system (called rhizomes) will survive and send up new fronds next spring. It would be difficult to recreate these conditions in a dorm room, so it might be better to return it home and let it die back naturally outdoors. If protected with a layer of mulch, it should survive, although they do better in the ground than in pots. You're correct; those are spores.

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