‘Ghost’ is a hybrid fern which was developed from a cross between Athyrium niponicum var. pictum and Athyrium filix-femina. It gets the popular name Ghost because of the silvery color of the outer edge of the fronds.
When temperatures get warmer, the color often gets a hint of blue. The silver color on the fronds comes from its Japanese painted fern parent and the upright growth of the fronds comes from its lady fern parent.
Ghost fern generally grows to no more than 2 ½ feet tall with an even smaller spread. The mature size makes it a wonderful plant for small, shade gardens. It can tolerate dappled light, but direct afternoon sun here will cause brown edges and the plant will be very unattractive if it survives. Ghost fern is less sensitive to dry soils but it should not be allowed to get too dry.
If you have a rabbit problem, this plant does not appear to be very appetizing to the furry creatures. However, I must warn you, if rabbits or deer get hungry enough, they will eat most any plant.
I have a Ghost fern in my garden now, and it survived the winter beautifully. In some colder climates, the fern is considered deciduous, meaning it will lose its fronds but return when temperatures are warmer. Its cold hardiness zone is 4-8. I am in cold hardiness zone 9a, so those of you on the east part of Nassau County Florida might want to add this little beauty to your landscape.
Those of us on shaded lots should consider adding more ferns as they add texture and color to our beds and are fabulous fillers for small, tight areas. But, you know how I feel about Boston fern – please keep it in the pot and do not plant it in the ground here – a Class I invasive and one of the most annoying plant pests.