Adiantum Maidenhair Fern

Maidenhair ferns are considered to be among the most elegant representatives of ferns with their fresh green, fine, feathery leaves and thin, shiny black-brown stalks. About 200 species are known, out of which mainly species from the tropical regions are grown as indoor plants. There is also a species (Adiantum capillus-veneris) which occurs in western and southern Europe and is distributed as far as the Alps.

The genus is rich in different forms. In addition to simple- to multi-feathered species and varieties, there is also a species with undivided, kidney-shaped leaves (Adiantum reniforme).


The individual types differ widely in the size of their feathery leaves. The leaves of Adiantum raddianum "Microphyllum" are minute. They give the plant a delicate appearance. However, even large-leafed species, such as Adiantum peruvianum whose feathery leaves can grow up to 5 cm (2 in) long, have a delicate appearance as the leaves are very thin.

maidenhair fernsFertile and sterile fronds look the same in all Adiantum species. Spores are formed, particularly in older plants, along the edges of the fronds. The spore clusters are concealed beneath the curled-over edges of the leaves until they are mature.

• Adiantum raddianum and Adiantum tenerum are the two best known species. There are many varieties which possess double- or multi-feathered fronds. When they shoot, the young leaves are light green, or sometimes reddish, as, for example, in Adiantum tenerum "Scutum Roseum". In fully grown plants the fronds often droop slightly. They can be used as greenery in dainty bouquets of flowers.

Over 60 varieties of Adiantum raddianum have been registered, such as "Brilliantelse", "Goldelse", "Gracillimum" and "Fragantissimum".

Varieties with variegated leaves are also available. The stalks of the variety "Fritz Lüthi" stand stiffly upright and form compact plants that are considered to be very long-lasting.

• Adiantum fulvum, a single-feathered species, whose leaves grow closely together around the leaf stem, appears very


• Adiantum hispidulum has an atypical foot-shaped leaf division unlike other maidenhair ferns.

• Adiantum caudatum is an attractive hanging species with slender, single-feathered fronds that look very good in hanging containers.

Family: Adiantaceae, maidenhair ferns.

Origin: Central and South America, Africa and Asia, Polynesia, Australia, New Zealand, Madeira, Canary Islands. Mostly tropical and subtropical but also found in temperate regions.

The home of the tropical species is the rainforest. They occur as terrestrial ferns, often along the banks of streams, around springs, waterfalls and in rock clefts.

Position: Bright but not sunny. Warm all year round (minimum 18° C/64° F). You must ensure the ferns have "warm feet". Once they have been properly hardened off, they will cope with night-time temperatures as low as 15° C (59° F). Adiantum hispidulum, Adiantum fulvum and Adiantum reniforme are suitable for cooler places. Nearly all species and varieties require high humidity and will flourish in a glass case, an enclosed plant picture window or in a bottle garden. Dry, centrally heated air and draughts should be avoided.

Care: Keep evenly moist and use soft water. Do not allow it to dry out or the fronds will wither very rapidly. If the plant has dried out for only a short time, immersing the root-stock in water is helpful. Also cut off any brown fronds. The plant should then begin to shoot again. Give a little less water in winter (except in very warm rooms). Give low doses of fertilizer from the first month of spring to the first month of autumn every fortnight. Make sure humidity levels are high and occasionally mist over lightly. Repot every year or two in the spring. Ferns require compost that absorbs sufficient amounts of water and still has good drainage.

Propagation: From spores or by dividing larger plants. Adiantum caudatum can be propagated from offset plantlets that form on the tips of the fronds.

Pests, diseases: Aphids on young shoots. Grey mould in conditions that are too wet. These plants react very sensitively to plant protection agents.

My tip: The bathroom is an ideal position for maidenhair ferns as they feel right at home in high humidity.

Adiantum hispidulum is considered to be a less demanding species with respect to humidity and temperatures.

01. June 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: House Plants, Indoor Ferns | Tags: | Comments Off on Adiantum Maidenhair Fern


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