Anyone who has cared for maidenhair ferns knows it’s a labour of love. It’s not the easiest plant to tend to as it requires particular growing conditions and daily attention, but those delicate fan-shaped leaves on wiry black stems that move with the breeze are well worth the effort. Here are our top tips for caring for this high-maintenance plant.
How to care for maidenhair ferns
Just like Goldilocks, Maidenhair ferns like everything to be just right, from the soil it sits in, to the type of sunlight it receives. The best way to keep a maidenhair fern happy is to mimic the natural environment it’s usually found in. We’ve broken down each stage so you can learn how to care for maidenhair ferns and keep it alive.
Where do maidenhair ferns originate from?
Maidenhair ferns originate from the tropical parts of South America, particularly Brazil. This fern is part of the Adiantum genus that includes over 250 species. Most of the species prefer warm and slightly damp environments, but there are a few species that thrive in cooler regions.
Maidenhair ferns are considered hardy when compared to other fern species that require more humid growing conditions but don’t let that fool you. Maidenhair ferns are suited to those who are time-poor as this plant requires particular growing conditions and daily attention.
What’s the best soil type?
While most ferns prefer slightly acidic soil, maidenhair ferns grow best in well-draining, rich, deep hummus soil with a more alkaline soil pH. We recommend making your own mix containing one part potting mix, one part compost, one part peat and a sprinkle of limestone.
How much water does it need?
Humidity is the most important environmental factor when caring for maidenhair ferns. This plant thrives on moisture and needs a lot to survive, but it’s also fussy with the amount of water it receives. Maidenhair ferns like to stay hydrated, but the soil can’t be too dry or soggy. We recommend watering or misting daily to keep the soil moist. If you live in less humid areas, try misting the leaves twice a day and never let the soil dry out. Alternatively, place your maidenhair fern in your bathroom as it will soak up the damp air from your steamy showers.
What type of pot should I use?
As maidenhair ferns like to stay hydrated, it’s best to keep them in plastic pots. Terracotta pots and pots made from other materials tend to absorb moisture and can dry out the soil quicker than a plastic pot. If you want a decorative looking plastic pot, try a Pop Up Pot.
Where do I place it in my home?
In their natural environment, maidenhair ferns grow between the crevices of rock walls and are covered by a dense tree canopy that provides the perfect amount of dappled sunlight they need. When choosing a spot to put your maidenhair fern in your home, find a place that is bright but doesn’t receive direct sunlight as this will burn their delicate leaves. Also, keep them away from heating or cooling vents. Bathrooms and kitchens are typically the best spots for maidenhair ferns.
Feeding and additional care advice
Fertilise your maidenhair fern once a month in spring and summer and try to avoid touching the foliage as it can cause the leaves to turn brown. Yes, this plant is really that dramatic! If you need to trim dead frons, do so carefully using a clean pair of scissors.