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Re: Japanese Painted Ferns

  • Subject: Re: [ferns] Japanese Painted Ferns
  • From: "Judith I Jones" judith@fancyfronds.com
  • Date: Fri, 26 Aug 2005 13:17:08 -0700

Hello Ralph,
    Thank you for posting your observations on Athryium niponicum 'Pictum'
and its variability not only from spores but in various cultural conditions.
Since I grow my the bulk of my crops in greenhouses under similiar and ideal
conditions I only see a smaller percentage of difference than you  have
    The commercial growers naming all these various "clones" defend their
selections as being valuable from the aspect of reliable color in a
population.  Obviously from your experience as well as mine this is not a
guarantee that the tissue cultured plants will produce a uniform crop under
different environments.
     Terra Nova has asked me to grow on some of their named 'Pictums' and
re-named Victorian filix-femina cultivars to evaluate.  I don't have
greenhouse space to do this on a large scale but even some test growing may
porve that these populations can be almost as variable as spore grown
Judith I. Jones

----- Original Message -----
From: "ralpharcher" <ralpharcher@bellsouth.net>
To: <ferns@hort.net>
Sent: Wednesday, August 24, 2005 7:10 PM
Subject: Re: [ferns] Japanese Painted Ferns

> I first planted five A. niponicum 'Pictum' ferns over twenty years ago.
> This fern grows well in our climate of hot summers and high humidity and
> the only fern to naturalize in a large number of places around the yard.
> is very hardy here and a very good garden fern, which makes a nice display
> either as an individual plant or in a mass planting.  The ferns generally
> started emerging a week or so before the midpoint of the emergence time
> distribution for all the fern species I grew.
> I started propagating by division and then planting what became a sizable
> number.  In spite of being clones, many divisions were not completely
> uniform in color or form after growing on in pots. There was a spectrum of
> differences in appearance similar to those seen in a group of plants
> from spore, but to a lesser degree. In many cases, fern divisions from the
> same plant, which looked similar when grown in gallon pots, lost this
> similar appearance as mature ferns when planted in a variety of locations.
> Some ferns occasionally sported fronds which had very different color
> with different growth habits and pinnae shapes. As plants aged, some had a
> tendency to revert back to the color of the species.
> Cultural conditions also had a significant effect on the color of this
> when mature.  Observations of ferns in several other gardens confirmed my
> own experience that the color that these ferns develop and retain over
> after planting is influenced by the intensity of available light,
> moisture and a need for good drainage. The ferns with the best color were
> those grown in conditions of shade with bright indirect light, good
> and regular water as needed.  Ferns grown in full morning sun were larger
> and more vigorous than those in shade, but it was critical that they
> a larger amount of water when the soil first started to dry compared to
> those in shade.  These ferns also tended to lose the distinctive color of
> n. 'Pictum' in spite of ample water.  It appeared that the sun seemed to
> bleach the frond as it unfurled.
> None of the recently named cultivars grown for two and a half years at the
> Whitehall Historic Home fern garden seem, to the gardeners who have toured
> the garden, to be sufficiently different from the cultivar 'Pictum' to
> justify a different cultivar name.  None stand out and cause the question,
> what's that?  Some gardeners who paid a premium for one of the named ferns
> and was disappointed that the fern did not seem very much different in
> from what the generic Japanese painted fern is, are still vocal in their
> disappointment.
> Ralph Archer
> Louisville, KY USA
> USDA Zone 6
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
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