Guide to low-maintenance gardening

From low-water plants to simple projects, our guide to easy gardening will make a green thumb out of anyone

Best ferns for a low-water garden

These luxuriant ferns don’t need to drink a lot to be happy. Get our tips on the best types to plant and how to care for them

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Autumn fern
Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Janet Kinosian

Autumn fern

Species: Dryopteris erythrosora 

Found in: Woodlands and forests of China and Japan.

Grows to: 18 to 24 inches tall and wide. Semievergreen.

Why this fern? As its name indicates, it changes color dramatically with the season: In spring, the fronds are a blend of copper, pink, and yellow; in summer, they turn green, then a rusty brown in fall. Red spores appear on their undersides in winter.

Sunset climate zones: 2–9, 14–24

More: All about Dryopteris erythrosora


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