The Maidenhair fern, known for its luscious looks and elegant hair-do, has the reputation of being difficult to care for with its diva-like demands. Maidenhair ferns might require a bit more attention than some of our other recently featured houseplants, but if you're a very attentive plant parent, this is the perfect plant baby to add to your collection.
The Luscious-Looking Maidenhair Fern Plant Diva
The Maidenhair fern is part of the Adiantum genus that includes over 200 varieties of ferns grown around the world from New Zealand to the Andes. The genus name is derived from the Greek word 'adiantos', which means 'unwetted' - a fitting description for the fern since its leaves repel water.
Maidenhair ferns have delicate fan-shaped leaf segments, typically clustered on wiry black stems. In addition to being a popular houseplant, Maidenhair ferns can also be found in nature, growing in places where other plants generally don't, like on rock walls and in between rock fissures where the moisture from water seepage keeps them alive. Though they are visually stunning throughout all stages of their growth, this houseplant is considered a slow-growing fern that usually takes up to three years to reach its full mature size.
6 Tips For Letting Your Maidenhair Fern Thrive Indoors
This plant is considered a hardy fern, rather than a tropical fern, but don't let the description fool you as they can be quite finicky to keep healthy indoors because they can be pretty particular about their growing conditions. The biggest key to growing a Maidenhair fern indoors with success is humidity. It thrives on moisture and needs a lot to survive, which is often hard to achieve in indoor environments. But with the proper growing conditions, and a little bit of love, the Maidenhair fern can thrive inside and make up for an interesting and rather beautiful addition to your houseplant collection. Here are six tips for mastering the Maidenhair fern:
Don't Touch the Leaves
Even though the leaves of the Maidenhair Fern feel soft and delicate, please try to resist the urge to touch them. The problem is that your hands contain a lot of natural oils that will be transferred onto the leaves when you touch them, causing a blockage of their ability to soak up moisture and light from the air. When handling this plant, either make sure not to touch them at all or wear gloves so you don't interfere with the leaves.
Don't Re-Pot It
Maidenhair ferns generally don't like it all too much when they are being re-potted. The dramatic change can cause the root ball to get disturbed and lead to premature death, which is exactly what we're trying to avoid. Make sure that when you do re-pot your plant to buy a fitting container - clay pots, for instance, will soak up moisture from the air and the roots of your plant and steal the exact thing that your Maidenhair fern so desperately needs.
Water Your Plant Often
The best way to judge the watering needs of your plant is to look at its soil. This applies to the Maidenhair Fern as well. When it feels very dry to the touch or if you see the leaves are starting to shrivel, get some water into the pot as soon as possible. This plant loves a good soak, but only if you drain all the water that has run through the soil. They like moisture but shouldn't be kept sopping wet or the roots will start to rot. Depending on the heat of the environment you keep your Maidenhair fern in, it requires a good soak once or twice a week. You can also add water in small sips every day to keep the soil moist.
Mist, Mist, Mist
Again, this plant diva loves, loves, loves moisture. Use a smaller mister and spray the leaves (without touching them!) every single day. Alternatively, you can place the potted plant near a humidifier or atop a tray of wet pebbles to increase moisture levels. Also consider housing the plant in a moisture-rich environment at home, such as a bathroom or garden greenhouse. If you notice the fern's leaves are curling up, the leaf tips are dry, or the leaves are falling off frequently, it's likely that the air is too dry and the plant needs more moisture and humidity.
Keep It Away From Drafts
Any slight draft is disastrous for your Maidenhair fern. This means that you don't want to place it anywhere near a place where this plant can encounter moving air. It might seem a little bit ridiculous, but if you want to keep this plant alive, then definitely don't keep it near an open window, door, or near any radiators. The movement of air means rapid evaporation of any moisture this plant needs so you want to make sure it’s far enough away from any source of drafts.
Give It Light
In their natural forest environment, maidenhair ferns are primarily covered by a canopy of trees, receiving a bit of shade and a bit of partial sunlight. To successfully grow the fern indoors, it's best to try and mimic these conditions by finding a spot in your home that receives indirect sunlight only. Avoid harsh light or direct rays, as the delicate leaves of the maidenhair fern can burn very easily.
Mastering this plant can be easy and very enjoyable as long as you keep the two most important factors in mind. Bright spot and heaps of water. Once you have the plant in a good position you will find that it flourishes and rapidly grows in size. Due to the speed of growth, you can start out by buying a smaller (and cheaper) plant and instead spend your money on buying a great pot!