The term Athyrium filix - femina refers to a group of evergreen or deciduous ferns, originating in Europe, Asia and North America; most of them bear the winter cold, but they can also be cultivated in pots at home. It produces a large tuft of fronds, from 40 to 90 cm high, each of them is a single composed leaf, without branches. The stems are light brown in color, which contrasts with the color of the leaves.
The leaves are compound, triangular, made up of numerous finely divided leaflets, of various colors depending on the species, always smaller in size starting from the base of the stem to the apex; A. filix-femina has light green foliage, there are cultivars with yellowish-green leaves; A. nipponicum has very dark leaves, which tend to silver-gray, there are cultivars with foliage tending to dark purple, even veriegate. These ferns are very suitable in shady gardens, where they can also be used as ground cover.
The Athyrium filix - femina plants, also known as female ferns, are very hardy and resistant and have no particular problems in the cold season. For the best exposure it is possible to place it in a shady or partially shady place; a few hours of morning light can greatly improve the color of the variegated leaf cultivars; generally they do not fear the cold, but sometimes they can be damaged by the wind, so it is advisable to choose a sheltered position, for example against a wall or at the foot of trees or shrubs.
A good part of the species is deciduous, therefore in winter it goes into vegetative rest, in case of very cold temperatures it is possible for the aerial part to dry up completely, to reappear in spring.
Like most ferns also the Athyrium filix - femina need regular watering, but they fear water stagnation; it is therefore advisable to keep the soil slightly humid, avoiding excesses, especially with regard to specimens grown in containers. Check that the substrate remains moist, without exceeding because the stagnation of water is harmful to the plant.
In autumn and early spring, bury organic fertilizer or slow release granular fertilizer for green plants at the foot of the plant.
Female fern plants particularly like acid-tilled, loose, well-drained and humus-rich soils; cultivate in a substratum consisting of two parts of peat, two parts of leaf soil and a part of sand. Being rustic plants the female fern plants can be buried even in soils with different conditions, in this case the plant will have a lesser development.
The female fern plants produce many spores, which are mature when they look papery and come off the plant easily; they are sown in spring, in a compound consisting of sand and peat in equal parts; the young seedlings are cultivated in a container in a sheltered place for some years before they can be planted. In spring and autumn it is possible to divide the clumps, the portions so practiced are put directly to their homes.
Female fern - Athyrium filix - femina: Parasites and diseases
Female fern plants sometimes suffer from chlorosis and root rot, which can be caused by excessive water stagnation.