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Maidenhair Fern- Plant Bio: Podcast Ep#43

Updated: Oct 10, 2021

These ferns are notoriously known as one of the most difficult houseplants but I am here to tell you, they really aren't! You will see what I mean as you read through this blog!


Adiantum aethiopicum: Common Maidenhair Fern

Adiantum tenerum: Brittle Maidenhair Fern

Adiantum raddianum: Delta Maidenhair Fern, Pacific Maidenhair Fern

Adiantum capillus-veneris: Southern Maidenhair Fern, Venus'-hair Fern, Venus Maidenhair Fern

Sun Requirements:

Bright, indirect light is best for these plants. Then can also handle medium light but they will be their thickest and fullest in bright, indirect light.

Snowflake Maidenhair Fern (lime green because in bright, sometimes direct sunlight)

Water Requirement

THIS IS THE KEY TO YOUR MAIDENHAIR FERN SUCCESS! I can't stress this enough! These plants need consistent and constant moisture. I actually leave my Maidenhair Fern sitting in a saucer of water. Every couple days I check to make sure there is still water sitting in the saucer.

Previously, I had a Maidenhair Fern I watered about once a week and it quickly died! I decided to try the extreme of constant moisture and it worked! I've successfully had my Maidenhair Fern for months now and it has doubled in size!

I believe the constant moisture is more important than the humidity. That being said, humidity can also play a big part in your plant's success. Keeping your Maidenhair Fern in medium to high humidity is great.


As I always say, there are LOTS of ways to fertilize plants. Unless you are extremely over-fertilizing your plant, there isn't necessarily a wrong way to do this. I currently use Fox Farm's Grow Big Liquid Fertilizer and I fertilize every 2 weeks when I water my plants, starting around the end of February through October. I honestly probably only fertilize once or twice in winter because the plant isn't as active! I use about 1/2 to 3/4 the recommended amount of fertilizer because I would rather under-fertilize than over-fertilize my plants. Based on the below info from Fox Farm it looks like I could increase my fertilizing a bit if needed!

Snowflake Maidenhair Fern (before it was exposed to sometimes direct sunlight)

When I reached out to Fox Farm this is what they recommended...

"Either Grow Big or Happy Frog All Purpose Dry Fertilizer would be excellent options for your houseplants! Grow Big (6-4-4) is our all-purpose liquid plant food that your plants will love! It is incredibly concentrated and fast-acting and design to provide full-scale, crucial micro- and macro-nutrients to your plants. Grow Big can be applied at a rate of 2-3 teaspoons per gallon of water once a week. If you prefer a dry fertilizer, Happy Frog All Purpose Dry Fertilizer (6-4-5) is OMRI and CDFA listed and it’s a ready to use blend of balanced nitrogen rich fertilizers and microorganisms. Mycorrizhal fungi are included to help increase root efficiency, which may enhance nutrient uptake and water absorption. It is super easy to use, just apply monthly as topdressing. This is an excellent choice for your indoor plants."

Here is what another source said...

  • For Adiantum tenerum, Plantopedia says, "Adiantum tenerum is very sensitive to fertiliser, so always use a fertiliser that is specifically sited for delicate ferns and be sure to dilute it to half strength."

As you can see, there are MANY ways to fertilize and it is completely up to you! There are tons of products out there you can try but an overall rule of thumb for houseplants is that it is best to under-fertilize, rather than over-fertilize. Always use the recommended amount, or less, when applying your fertilizer to houseplants.


You can propagate by division. Maidenhair Fern spread by rhizomes which can be cut and divided. Wait until the plant is a bit more mature before you cut the plant in half or pull the rhizomes apart. Both sections may take a few months to recover, but after that they should be good to go!

Other Facts

  • Part of the Pteridaceae Family.

  • Some are native habitat to parts of North American, South America, Central America, Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

  • Adiantum comes from the Greek word adiantos meaning “unwetted." This refers to the plants water repellent foliage.

  • In your house, these can grow up to 24 inches wide depending on the variety and environment.

  • Even with the ideal care, fern fronds will brown and die off. Don't be alarmed by this if some lower fronds do this. Just trim them off.

  • These are invasive in Hawaii! Check your local invasive species list if you live in warm, humid climates.

  • Non toxic to pets and humans. Check out Podcast Ep#31 for more info or the corresponding blog post!

  • Fun Fact: Gingko trees are sometimes called Maidenhair Tree because their leaves are shaped similar to a Maidenhair Fern!

Instagram Q&A

I asked followers if they had any specific plant questions I could address in this podcast and blog. Here are the questions and answers for Maidenhair Fern...

"Is there an easier variety of fern to care for than others? Or harder?"

  • I would say most ferns are easier than this. I think there are cousins of the Maidenhair Fern that may be just as difficult like the Silver Dollar Maidenhair Fern. Staghorn Fern are also difficult for some people as well. Most ferns need more moisture than your average houseplant and this is why people usually classify them as difficult. I believe Asparagus Fern, Boston Fern, Kimberly Queen Fern and Tiger Ferns are some of the easier varieties.

"Why is it called Maidenhair Fern?"

  • Adiantum capillus-veneris literally translated to "Venus’s hair." It is said the stems look like dark strands of hair. This is probably where this stems from!



Go to Apple Podcasts, Amazon, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and PodBean. Search for Houseplant Homebody to hear this episode and MANY more! You can also listen directly on my website under the Podcast page!


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Always written with extreme plant passion!

Love, Holly


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