Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - August 12, 2014

From: Waynesville, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Ferns
Title: Chemical Weed Control in Lady Ferns in North Carolina
Answered by: Larry Larson


Lady Fern (Athyrium filix femina): What herbicide may I use for weeds in a new bed of Lady fern.


  You sort of came to the wrong place with this question. The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes.  As such, we don’t stock much information on herbicides and are just about as interested in the weeds as we are the Athyrium filix-femina (Common ladyfern) !

   Still,  Athyrium filix-femina (Common ladyfern) is a native, so I gave it a bit of a go. Here is a very informative publication from the British Columbia Ministry of Forests on the Vegetation Management of Fern Complexes.  Lady Fern is one of the predominant species of these complexes.  I think the section on chemical control focusses on controlling the ferns though!

Similarly, here is an article from e-How on Weed Control for Bracken Fern, As both of these appear to focus on controlling the ferns, it’s likely your best approach is to avoid the recommended treatments – and do some research on other treatments that are effective on the “weeds”.

  A likely place you can go to for some good help for this question is the Haywood County NC State Extension Office.  Extension Offices tend to be much more knowledgeable on chemical approaches, and I notice that yours has an “Ask an Expert” link and a team of Master Gardeners.


From the Image Gallery

Common lady fern
Athyrium filix-femina

Common lady fern
Athyrium filix-femina

More Ferns Questions

Ground cover to control hillside erosion in Illinois
May 04, 2014 - I have seen some other questions regarding native plants for erosion control, but I am looking specifically for plants that will do well on a hill in partial to full shade. I am told the soil in our a...
view the full question and answer

Hanging Baskets for Batson, TX
May 23, 2014 - What plants can I put in hanging baskets for my shady porch?
view the full question and answer

Plants to grow in shady area near a pecan tree in Maryland
March 26, 2013 - I live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I have planted only natives in my front lawn. My backyard, which sports a pecan tree, fir, fig tree, and others I can't identify is dirt, just dirt. I have...
view the full question and answer

Southern Woodferns in TX
May 06, 2010 - I have recently bought some 3 gallon southern woodferns, and have planted them in the shade in a low spot with clay soil. It seems to be a good location for the ferns, but a week or two after transpla...
view the full question and answer

Cottage-style landscaping for Chesapeake VA
August 02, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plant staff, I recently moved into a cottage style home that has a poured concrete/paver patio. I am trying to come up with ideas for plantings that would 1. give me a bit of privacy,...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.