The term flowering fern refers to the hardy gloxinia fern (Incarvillea delavayi), which is actually not a fern, but earned the nickname because of its fern-like, deeply divided leaves.
In contrast to real ferns, flowering ferns glow with trumpet-shaped, pink flowers from the beginning of spring to late summer. The genus Incarvillea contains about 16 perennial flowering plants in the Bignoniaceae family native to East and Central Asia, with most species growing high in Tibet and the Himalayas.
Hardy gloxinia fern is a shrubbery perennial that typically reaches a height of up to 24-inches. It has 2.5-inch long pinkish-red, trumpet-shaped flower clusters with a yellow throat.
The racemes appear in summer on sturdy, mostly leafless flower stems that extend well beyond the basal, arched, fern-like, pinnate, compound leaves of medium green (up to 12-inches long).
Although growing hardy gloxinia fern can be pretty tricky, the beauty of this old-fashioned plant is well worth the additional effort.