Maidenhair ferns belonging to the genus Adiantum are a unique set of plants that are commonly found in wet and humid climates.
These plants grow and spread outwards, and their impressive foliage is a sight to behold. This is why many admirers love to keep and grow this plant in their homes.
There are countless types of Maidenhair ferns, each having leaves prettier than the other.
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Maidenhair Fern Plant Care
Maidenhair ferns thrive in well-watered soil, which receives indirect sunlight and humid conditions similar to the tropics. Waterlogged soil is a nuisance for the plant and promotes the growth of fungus and plant diseases. Keep the temperature between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (16- 21 degrees Celsius).
Maidenhair ferns thrive only in well-watered and moist soil.
If you are growing Maidenhair indoors, plant it in a plastic pot with holes at the bottom for the drainage of extra water to prevent waterlogging of your fern.
Plastic pots will retain moisture, while clay and ceramic pots will dry out your soil. You can add compost or moss to the soil as it will help retaining soil moisture.
Maidenhair ferns flourish well in alkaline pH. Adding limestone to your soil will also boost the growth of your Maidenhair as it will make the soil more alkaline.
Along with humidity, the most crucial variable to consider when growing Maidenhair fern is the moisture level content of the soil.
Adiantum generally requires plenty of water to grow. It is preferred that you deploy an observation strategy when watering your fern instead of following a regular watering timetable to prevent drying or overwatering of your plant.
The soil should be very moist at all times and should be watered again as soon as the top of it feels even the slightest bit dry.
Humidity also plays a vital role in regulating the soil moisture content, and varying humidity can affect how soon you should water your plant.
Maidenhair fern dislikes overwatering, and letting the roots sit in a puddle for too long will promote root and stem rot.
Likewise, the fern should not dry out either as it will wilt immediately. However, in the case that it does dry out, it is possible to regrow the fronds.
Just cut away the brown leaves and gently soak the stem in water. Maidenhair will produce new leaves in some time.
Maidenhair ferns usually grow in jungles, spread out on the ground, usually near rocks with a thick canopy of trees above them.
The thicket of trees ensures that the ferns around them get ample, indirect sunlight throughout the day.
In order to grow this outdoors or as a houseplant, it is essential to imitate similar growing conditions.
Contrary to popular belief, ferns can also thrive in direct sun, but it requires more care.
Two to three hours of direct sunlight is tolerable for your Maidenhair fern as long as you keep a strict check on its soil moisture level content.
Too much direct sun on your plant can lead to the browning of its fronds, while too little sunlight leads to yellowing and wilting.
However, it is generally not preferred to place them in the direct sun if you are a newbie at gardening.
Maidenhair ferns thrive best in warmer temperatures. Temperature between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (16- 21 degrees Celsius) is ideal for them.
Although they can tolerate varying temperatures to some extent, they generally dislike the cold and frost.
If the temperature drops below the 60-degree Fahrenheit mark, they become dormant, and the fronds die down only to grow out again the following spring.
Humidity is the most critical aspect to be considered when growing your Maidenhair ferns.
These ferns grow around rocks in their natural habitat where moisture seeps through them, therefore, they flourish well in humid conditions. Maintaining such an environment is a challenging task when growing Maidenhair.
If you are growing them outdoors where humidity is insufficient, placing them in a greenhouse would be a good bet.
Growing maidenhair ferns indoors can be easier as the conditions that the plant requires for its growth can be adjusted.
Maidenhair ferns should be placed away from radiators and air conditioners that dry the surrounding air.
Misting the air with a spray or using humidifiers are also good options to boost the humidity indoors artificially.
A good place for the placement of this fern can be the bathroom, where the shower humidifies the air. The fern can also act as an ornament, beautifying the bathroom.
Maidenhair can also be placed beside other plants, as the water vapors exuded by the other plants during transpiration can also increase humidity.
Adiantum requires the addition of fertilizer once every month. Use a ½ strength fertilizer or dilute it in water before adding it to the soil.
Although the Maidenhair fern requires fertilization the whole year-round, you can stop giving it in the fall if you desire, as that is when the ferns enter their dormancy phase.
Make sure that there is not too much nitrogen in the fertilizer as that can cause the tips of the leaves to turn brown or burn.
Maidenhair ferns are easily propagated through a unique system of roots called rhizomes.
Rhizomes are roots that grow horizontally underground. To propagate Maidenhair ferns, simply cut the rhizome into sections, making sure that each section contains at least two nodes from which the plant will germinate.
Plant each section in separate pots or plant them in the ground six inches apart.
Ferns should be grown in spring after the last frost has passed as these plantlets are unable to withstand the cold temperatures.
Maidenhair ferns can also be propagated using spores that develop on the underside of the leaf of a mature fern. Gently remove the spores from the leaf using your hands.
Be careful while handling the spores as they are tiny and can easily be scattered. Spread the spores on the soil top and gently spray water over them.
Place your plant near the sun and keep misting it to avoid dehydration.
New fronds will begin appearing in four to five months. This is a comparatively slower process of propagation of Maidenhair fern.
Repotting Maidenhair ferns is generally not encouraged as these plants prefer and can easily survive in compact places.
If the leaves of the fern become overcrowded or the roots start showing up out of the soil, it is time for your Maidenhair to find a new home.
Use a sharp tool to cut out the rhizome in a few pieces and carefully separate the roots. Be careful with the sharp equipment and make sure not to damage the roots or the fronds.
Put each section in a new pot. Water the soil well and place it near an indirect light source.
Repotting is best done during spring and only if your plant has established a strong root system.
Growth and Blooming
Maidenhair ferns do not bloom or flower. The outspread foliage is the source of their beauty.
These ferns reproduce by spores and rhizomes.
Tips to Keep Maidenhair Fern Problem-free
- Be careful when feeding the plants as too much nitrogen content can burn the leaves. Newly repotted plants have fragile roots and can burn if they are immediately fertilized.
- The bathroom is an ideal location for growing your Maidenhair ferns indoors.
- Prune the dead or dying fronds regularly so new leaves can replace the old ones quicker.
- Maidenhair ferns become dormant during winter periods, so reduce the frequency of watering and let the top part of soil dry out a little before watering them again. This will prevent root rot. Also, feed your plant after longer intervals in winters as the plant growth is at its minimum.
- Always clean and sterilize your gardening tools and equipment to prevent the spread of diseases and infections.
Common Problems with Maidenhair Fern
- If you are growing your Maidenhair fern in a clay pot, the pot absorbs the water from the soil and dries it up quickly. Maidenhair fern cannot survive in dry conditions, and the fronds die soon after. Make sure to take extra care when watering your plant.
- The use of air conditioners and radiators inside homes immediately dries out the air, which is disliked by the Maidenhair fern. Keep your plant away from any such place where air conditioners and radiators are present. In addition, continue to mist the plant to increase the humidity levels.
Pests and Diseases
As the name suggests, these bugs attack the roots and lower portion of the plant from where they suck out most nutrients. The leaves start yellowing and wilting, and white colonies appear in the soil.
Removing this infestation requires mechanical work. Pick out these bugs from the soil.
Make sure to handle the roots of the plant gently and not damage them. Repot the plant in new soil and water it using hot water. This will kill the remaining bugs.
Blackflies are small dark-colored bugs that infest the shoot of the plant, mainly attracted by newly grown fronds and plantlets.
Blackfly is easily removed by wiping down the leaves and stem of the affected plant using a wet cloth. Gently hosing down the plant is sufficient to dislodge the hold of the bugs from the plant.
Carefully replace the top layer of the soil to remove any leftover traces of the insects. Repeat the process every week for a month to prevent and reduce the chances of reinfestation.
Spider mites are small, almost microscopic bugs that commonly affect Maidenhair ferns. These insects prey on the leaves of the fern, making small holes in it until the leaves wither and die.
Spider mites can be managed easily, but the problem arises because they are so small that they are not discovered until the plant has dealt severe damage.
Spider mites infestation can be removed by treating your Maidenhair Fern with organic solutions like neem oil.
Frequently Asked Questions about Maidenhair Fern Plant Care
I forgot to water my Maidenhair, and now it has dried out. Can it be brought back to life?
Maidenhair fern does not die if it accidentally dries out. Take it out of its container, letting it soak in water for some time. Let the excess water drip off before putting it back in well-moistened soil. Place your pot near an indirect light source, and you will see new fronds growing out soon.
My entire plant is healthy except for one frond that has entirely turned brown and died. Why?
Browning and dying is a normal part of the life of Maidenhair ferns. The old fronds will die back to make space for new ones to grow. Trim away the brown and dead leaves and make sure your fern keeps receiving ample light and water, and new fronds will grow back in no time.
Are Maidenhair ferns toxic?
Maidenhair ferns are non-toxic for most pets such as dogs and cats and safe for babies, which is one of the many reasons they are kept as a common houseplant.
Maidenhair ferns are well known for being delicate and complex to care for. They grow naturally in the wild, where other plants won’t be able to survive.
They cannot withstand varying or fluctuating growing conditions, and they take so much of your precious time and require extra effort.
Most people will say that this plant has too many cons. But the moment you lay your eyes on its gorgeous foliage, everything else will eclipse it, and caring for this plant will be worth it.
Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.