Q. How do I grow a maidenhair fern?
Maidenhair fern (Adiantum) is a popular fern for home growing. It has fast-spreading rhizomes that grow horizontally just below the surface of the potting mix. The fronds are 8-15 inches long and are pinnate. Mature plants produce brown clusters of spore cases on the undersides. These ferns need bright light, but do not like direct sunlight. If the temperature goes above 75°F, place pots/saucer on trays of pebbles kept constantly moist, and mist-spray daily to provide added humidity. Keep slightly moist at the roots. A cause of failure is permitting the root ball to dry out and then soaking the plant. Aim for a medium course by watering moderately, enough to make the mixture moist throughout but letting the top inch dry out between waterings. Re-pot an Adiantum only when dark colored roots appear on the surface of the medium. The best time to re-pot is early spring. Older plants can be root-pruned and placed back in their original pots to which new potting mix is added. Propagation can be made from small sections of the rhizome with one or two fronds attached. You can do this at repotting time. Or you can separate older plants into a number of clumps. Pot each growing section singly (or put several in a pot or hanging basket). Use regular potting mix, or custom mix with added composted leaf mold.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service