How to Grow and Care for Autumn Fern Plants

The Dryopteris Erythrosora [Dry-OP-ter-iss, Er-rith-roh-SOR-uh] is the botanical name of the Autumn Fern plant. 

This semi-evergreen fern has graceful arching fronds and adds a delicate texture to the overall composition of the plant.

This fern species belongs to the Dryopteridaceae family along with Dryopteris Filix-Mas and is native to the Philippines, China, Korea, and Japan. 

It is commonly found in low hills or mountains under a slight woodland shade. 

Among the non-flowering ornamental plants, the Autumn Fern is highly popular mostly because it requires minimum maintenance.

The common names of this plant include:

  • Japanese Shield Fern
  • Copper Shield Fern
  • Japanese Wood Fern
  • Dryopteris Erythrosora ‘Brilliance’

Dryopteris Erythrosora Plant Care

Size & Growth

This plant grows 18” inches tall and 18” inches wide.

The growth rate of this plant is medium, and its life expectancy is around 15 years if it grows under ideal conditions. 

The new fronds usually have a coppery or copper-red tint to them but ultimately turn dark green when it reaches maturity.

The rhizomes are branched out and thick, forming various crowns. 

It has funnel-shaped leaves, and the leaf stalks are lancet to linear-shaped, growing almost a third as long as the leaf.

Flowering and Fragrance

Just like all ferns, this plant doesn’t produce any flowers or seeds.

Light & Temperature

The Japanese Shield Fern loves to grow under full shade. 

It still tolerates short periods of the afternoon sun, but the intense sun will severely damage the plant. 

Make sure you place this plant in a shaded area.  

These plants are hardy to USDA Hardiness Zones 5 through 9. 

It adjusts to winter zones and high humidity but won’t survive high-temperature zones. 

Make sure to maintain the temperature between 60° – 85° degrees Fahrenheit (15° – 29° C).

Watering and Feeding                                                                                    

This plant needs regular and deep watering, particularly during its initial growing period, to establish a healthy root system. 

Once established, keep an evenly moist soil with regular watering. 

Use lukewarm water for the best results. You may also mist the leaves with warm water to fasten the growth of young plants.

While the plant doesn’t require much fertilizer, feed it with a small amount of slow-release fertilizer during the spring. 

Be careful. Too much fertilizer will damage the plant.

Soil & Transplanting

The Dryopteris Erythrosora thrives in well-draining, slightly acidic soil. 

It will tolerate soil with low nutritional value, but it needs a well-draining mixture for the best growth. 

You may mix the soil with a small amount of perlite and humus. 

Add in fir bark bits and charcoal chips for faster drainage.

Grooming and Maintenance

Give this fern a healthy start by mixing a few inches of peat moss, mulch, or compost when planting it. 

This enhances the growing conditions for the Autumn Fern.

Once this plant is established, it requires little care. 

You will only have to take care of its water needs to make sure the soil doesn’t get completely dry. 

Avoid overwatering.

Prune the older fronds once the new growth emerges in the spring season.

How To Propagate Autumn Fern Plant

The propagation of this plant is done using root division or spore production.

The easiest method is division. 

Divide the plant during the fall or spring season. 

Make sure to separate the rhizomes carefully to avoid breaking any roots. 

Plant these pieces directly in their new locations and ensure the soil is moist and rich.

Sow the spores at 59° degrees Fahrenheit (15° C) after they are ripe. 

This method is mostly only successful when you use a vivarium.

Autumn Fern Plant Pest or Diseases

This semi-evergreen fern experiences few diseases or pest-related issues. 

You must keep a watch out for mealybugs, scales, and aphids, as they might occasionally attack the plant. 

Take precautions when transplanting this plant, so these pest problems are easily avoided. 

In case of a severe infestation, you must use pesticides immediately before it spreads.

If the plant is left in poorly-drained and soggy soil, it might suffer from a fungal spore, leaf gall, or rust. 

Therefore, make sure the soil is consistently moist.

This plant is deer resistant, as they opt to nibble on tastier treats.

Is This Plant Toxic or Poisonous?

Some parts of this plant are known to be toxic to animals and humans. 

Make sure you wear gloves with handling the plant and grow it in an area where pets and children can’t reach it.

Autumn Fern Dryopteris Erythrosora Plant Uses

This plant looks beautiful when grown as a groundcover, in a mass planting, woodland garden, urban garden, edging, cutting garden, container, or along the border. 

The ideal companion plants for Autumn Ferns include Athyrium Filix-Femina and Astilbe Chinensis.

More on Athyrium Filix-Femina here.

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