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Maidenhair Fern Care

Maidenhair Fern Care Indoors

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Maidenhair fern care means understanding and meeting this plant’s particular needs so that it can reward you with its beautifully delicate and lacy appearance.

Maidenhair fern, also known as Adiantum, is a genus of around 250 species of ferns from the family Pteridaceae and the sub-family Vittarioideae.

It grows worldwide, from New Zealand to the Andes. Many of its varieties can be seen growing on rock walls near waterfalls.

Its history is very interesting- the genus name means ‘non- wetting’ and refers to the ability of the fronds to shed rainwater without becoming wet.

Plus, it’s a source of aromatic oil that’s commonly used as a shampoo and this is where the common name is derived from.

You can also find it under the name five-fingered fern. This is because of the finger-like fronds that grow on brown to black stems.

In the past, these stems were used as a dye.

Being beautiful and adaptable, they’re a common choice for an indoor plant.

A maidenhair fern is also considered to be a good air purifier, so you’re also cleaning the air when you place it indoors.

Furthermore, the maidenhair fern, like the bromeliad, is generally considered to be non-toxic to dogs and cats.

They’re a wonderful decoration to bright, indirect parts of houses or apartments. Thanks to their light green-gray foliage, they add a special charm to any landscape.

Although they are quite delicate, with the right care, you can grow maidenhair fern successfully. Here’re some key maidenhair fern care tips to help.

How to Care for Maidenhair Fern


Maidenhair ferns love to get a lot of light, but never direct exposure to the sun.

In other words, a sunny window facing the south will scorch it. Placing it in a north room won’t do it any good either.

For this plant, balance is key – an area that gets a lot of bright natural and indirect morning or afternoon light, away from drafts, open windows, doors or radiators.


Maidenhair ferns will thrive in temperature around 70 Degrees F. Make sure the temperature doesn’t go below 60 F because it will impede its growth.

Water & Humidity

A key maidenhair fern care rule is that it must never be overwatered, even though it likes to be moist all the time. To ensure this, place a pebble tray under the pot and fill it with water.

In winter, the tray can be empty for a short period of time and the plant will do alright; but, in summer, make sure the tray is full constantly.

Water the plant directly into the soil with a long- narrow spouted watering can, every third day or so. A good rule is to keep the soil moist to the touch, but not water-logged.

This plant doesn’t like dry air.

If the air in your house is mostly dry, you’ll need to ensure the plant gets the needed humidity. You can place it in your bathroom, mist it daily or invest in a humidifier.

It may be good to place it in a closed terrarium or under a glass cloche.


Your maidenhair fern wants rich and organic soil.

Most varieties don’t want alkaline soil. Add some humus to the soil prior to planting it or when you purchase it from a store.


If you want to, you can feed this plant with a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer.

Dilute it and apply it from April to September. Give the plant 50 percent of the recommended dosage by the manufacturer.

Surplus amounts can scorch the roots of the plant, so be extra cautious not to overdo it.

Repotting Maidenhair Fern

These plants can be sensitive to repotting, but when done properly, the plant will be okay. Repot them annually or bi-annually, but only after the pot is filled with its roots.

Choose a pot with a deeper tray and transplant it during spring or summer.

To avoid shocking the plant, don’t choose a much bigger pot than the current. Choose rich and quality soil and water it when you’ve set it in the new soil.

Propagating Maidenhair Fern

With a knife or a spade, divide the roots and keep two or three fronds in every division.

Plant each in its own pot and add more soil on top and water it.

Avoid adding fertilizer right away.

Best Maidenhair Fern Species

Southern maidenhair fern

This popular indoor maidenhair fern species can grow from 6 to 12 inches in height.

It has fronds that grow in clusters from creeping rhizomes. The fronds are delicate and light green.

Northern maidenhair fern

This type features delicate fronds and dark-color and shiny stems. They spread the pinnae horizontally in an almost ideal circle.

It’s this appearance of a gracious, fan-like pattern that makes it unique. In early spring, they release burgundy red fiddleheads.

Delta maidenhair fern

This variety has triangle-shaped arched fronds with tiny pinnate leaves with a light green color.

The interesting property of this species is its black, wire-like stalks. They make the plant look like it’s growing as a stiff, upright tree.

Other Maidenhair Fern Care Tips

Maidenhair ferns don’t like to be dry so make sure they’re always getting enough water.

Even a minor draft can damage this plant. So, don’t place it near moving air such as an open door, an open window or a radiator.

This will speed up the evaporation of the moisture which this plant needs in order to grow healthy.

If your maidenhair fern is dying, don’t get disappointed right away- you may be able to resurrect them. Cut off the damaged leaves and continue with the proper care.

Even though it may require some time, you’ll notice new fronds as long as you maintain proper moisture of the soil.

Trouble Shooting- Common Maidenhair Fern Care Issues

Problem: fern leaves curl up and fall off

Cause: The air isn’t humid enough for the plant.

Solution: Move it to a more humid area like the kitchen or the bathroom and increase the moisture of the soil.

A tray with water underneath may help.

Problem: The leaves are turning brown

Cause: The plant may be watered with overly hard water or it’s getting excessive direct sunlight.

Solution: Cut away the damaged leaves gently and change the water you use for the plant, choose a softer type like filtered or rain water.

And, move it to an area which is bright, but not directly exposed to the sun.

Problem:  Fronds curl up and turn black

Cause: Maidenhair fern aphids.

Solution: Spray them off with water outside and then apply an organic insecticide.

Also, cut the damaged areas.


I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this guide to successful maidenhair fern care.

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Maidenhair Fern Care Indoors


Like to see more indoor ferns? 

Checkout these easy to care for beauties;

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Foxtail Fern: foxtail-fern-care

Button Fern: button-fern-care

Birds Nest Fern: bird’s-nest-fern-care

Boston Fern: Boston-fern-care

Frosty Fern: frosty-fern-care

Maidenhair Fern: maidenhair-fern-care

Christine Mattner

What started out as purely a desire to keep my indoor plants alive has turned into a full-blown passion for sharing what I have learned over the years about selecting, growing and caring for indoor plants with those who may be new to the wonderful world of houseplants.

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