Japanese Painted Fern

A Beginner’s Guide to Japanese Painted Fern Plant Care | All you Need to Grow!

Family: Polypodiaceae
Common Name: Japanese Painted Fern
Botanical Name: Athurium niponicum

Don’t fight the urge to touch the foliage on this fern to see if it is real. The Japanese Painted Fern’s delicate, finely-etched leaves blanketed with silver, white and gray look too perfect to be alive. Timelessly elegant, this shade-loving indoor plant will thrive in shady, humid environments, and its air-purifying capabilities will help clean the air around you. Learn how to care for these fabulous ferns! Here are some tips on what you should not do to your ferns!


Most people assume ferns thrive in the shadows, but these houseplants need some light, so don't hide these misunderstood indoor plants in dark corners! Medium, indirect dappled light will bring out the best in them (picture them under a thick canopy of trees on a sunny day). Avoid direct sunlight, especially in the summer when the sun's rays are intense! The less light your Athurium niponicum receives, the slower they will grow, and they may become leggy and thin. If you see this happening, immediately relocate your nest fern to a brighter spot! Learn more about what light is right for your indoor plants! Learn where to put your plants for the best light! 


Japanese Painted Ferns need constant moisture, but don't let them sit in standing water; you will regret it! Only certain types of wetland ferns can live in that environment, and these are not those types! More importantly, do not neglect to water your Japanese Painted Fern. When that happens, you will find a dying fern surrounded by a ring of brown, crunchy leaves. Try this little trick if you are unsure how often to water your Japanese Painted Ferns. Water frequently, but lightly. Instead of soaking your Japanese Painted Ferns once a week or whenever you water your plants. Give them a little bit every few days, or just enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy. If the watering riddle still has you scratching your head, consider planting them into self-watering planters, and don't forget to fill the planters when they dry out! The onus falls on you to ensure that their delicate fronds get the water they need to frond on!


Japanese Painted Ferns adapt quickly to most household temperatures. They prefer to live in cooler temps but can withstand temperatures into the 90's. They'll just need more water and shade during a heatwave. When the temperatures are hot and stagnant, we recommend using a fan to provide good air circulation! Moving air helps keep pests and diseases, and fungus away!


The soil composition is critical when it comes to growing Japanese Painted Ferns! They need a soil medium that can retain moisture but still drain excess water to avoid the roots from rotting (not a pretty sight!). Most pre-mixed soils will suffice. Make sure that there is plenty of organic matter, like coco-coir, peat moss, or shredded leaves, and avoid soil containing moisture retaining crystals. If your soil drains too quickly, we recommend re-potting your Japanese Painted Fern into a compost-rich soil mixture. Learn how to create your own universal soil mixture for all of your indoor plants!


Humidity is a M-U-S-T to keep your Japanese Painted Fern strong and vigorous! If you think about the tropical rain forests where they naturally grow, it's easy to understand why. A humidifier will be the best solution to raise the humidity in your home during the cold months when the forced-air heat is cranking and dries out the air. We do not recommend misting your Japanese Painted Ferns -- or any plants --as a source of humidity. You would have to be misting all day for that to happen!. Misting does almost nothing to help raise the humidity for your plants, even though it feels therapeutic and relaxing to do! A stylish and practical way to increase the humidity in a small area is to place the Japanese Painted Ferns on a tray filled with pebbles and water so the evaporating moisture can reach the foliage. Learn how to increase humidity around your indoor plants!


Feed your Athurium niponicum with a ¼-diluted complete liquid fertilizer twice a month during the growing season. You can add organic compost, worm castings, or a slow-release fertilizer. Keep in mind that Japanese Painted Ferns are sensitive to being over-fertilized, so always dilute any concentrated fertilizer before applying it! Do not feed during the winter or in the colder months.

Growth Rate 

Japanese Painted Ferns are slow to moderate growing indoor plants and once established, can reach a mature height and width of 24”+!

Pet Friend or Foe

Japanese Painted Ferns are non-toxic to pets! Friend!

Pro Tips

  1. Only fertilize your indoor plants after you've saturated the soil with water; this avoids burning the roots and foliage.
  2. Group Japanese Painted Ferns together to make caring for them easier.
  3. Leave your Japanese Painted Ferns in the grow pots or plant in nonporous pots as this helps keep their soil moist.
  4. Indoor Japanese Painted Ferns can become root-bound which leads to stunted growth. Re-pot your Athurium niponicum into a container that is 2" wider in diameter, using organic-rich soil when re-potting them!
  5. A great time to divide your Japanese Painted Ferns is when you are re-potting them; take a sharp sterilized knife and carefully slice the root ball in half, and plant each division into their own new pots!
  6. Try placing a Japanese Painted Fern potted in a terra-cotta pot into a larger ceramic pot. Place moistened moss between the inner terra-cotta pot and the outer ceramic pot. The moistened moss will help slow down the terra-cotta pot from wicking away the moisture from the Japanese Painted Fern's soil.
  7. Find out the do’s and don’ts for your new indoor plants! 

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