How to grow and care for Maidenhair Fern Indoors

Houseplant, Maidenhair Fern

Botanical name: Adiantum raddianum
Synonmy: Adiantum cuneatum
Family: Pteridaceae

Maidenhair Fern also called Delta Maidenhair Fern bears wiry, shiny, dark stems which resemble human hair. The fronds are semi-erect in young plants but they droop as the plant ages. The fronds are small and have a lace-like appearance. The fern can grow to a height of 2 ft with a spread of 1-2 ft. These ferns have a delicate constitution. They require moist air, warmth and bright indirect light, which make them ideal for growing in a terrarium or a warm, humid bathroom. The genus name is derived from the Greek word adiantos, meaning "unwetted" in reference to the leaves ability to repel water without being wetted. Maidenhair Fern is native to North America where they can be found growing on rocks and in between rocks around waterfalls where moisture seeping through sustains them.

How to Grow Maidenhair Fern Indoors


Maidenhair Fern thrives in bright indirect light. Keep it away from direct sunlight as it can scorch the fronds. Turn the pot regularly to ensure even growth. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.


For optimum growth of Maidenhair Fern, keep the soil consistently moist at all times, never allow it to dry out. Reduce watering during cold months. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to rotting. Learn more on how to water houseplants.


Average warmth between 18-250C is ideal for Maidenhair Fern. Protect the fern from draughts; it requires consistent warmth. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.


Maidenhair Fern requires high humidity. Employ these techniques to raise humidity for this fern.


Feed Maidenhair Fern with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer once a month during the growing period. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is reduced. Avoid Nitrogen-rich fertilizer as it can cause brown leaf tips. Find out more on how to feed houseplants.


Remove dead and damaged fronds. As the plant ages, the older fronds turn brown. Cut them off at the base to maintain the plant looking neat and tidy.


Repot Maidenhair Fern at the beginning of the growing season when it becomes overcrowded. One sign of an overcrowded fern is wilting leaves. Failure to repot an overcrowded Maidenhair Fern can result in death of the plant. Use a pot that is 1 size larger and one that has drainage hole(s) to avoid waterlogging. Use loose, free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. The plant can also be divided into several sections and potted individually.

How to Propagate Maidenhair Fern

Maidenhair Fern can be propagated by division at the beginning of the growing season.

Propagating Maidenhair Fern by Division
Carefully remove the fern from its pot and divide into several sections. Ensure each section has adequate roots. Pot up these sections into individual pots. Place the pots in a warm shaded place and maintain the soil moist through out until the plants are well established.

Propagating Maidenhair Fern from Spores
Spores are brown dots on the underside of the fronds. When the ripen, the cases ope and tiny dust-like spores fall out. Cut the frond and place it on a piece of paper with spores side down. Allow time for the spores to fall out of the cases onto the piece of paper. The spores can also be obtained by shaking the frond occasionally. Thinly spread the spores on moist soil and cover the set up with clear polythene to maintain humidity and warmth. Place the set up in a brightly lit area. The spores should sprout in 1-2 months. Allow the plants to be well established before transplanting.

Common problems in growing Maidenhair Fern

  • Culred leaves, brown leaf tips, leaf drop
  • The cause of curled leaves, brown leaf tips and leaf drop in Maidenhair Fern is dry air. Employ these techniques to raise humidity for this fern.

  • Yellowing leaves
  • Soggy soil is the reason for yellowing leaves in Maidenhair Fern. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining.

  • Wilting leaves
  • Wilting leaves in Maidenhair Fern is an indication of overcrowding in the current pot resulting in underwatering of the fern. Repot the fern into a larger pot or divide it up for more plants.

  • Excessive leaf drop
  • Leaflets drop in Maidenhair Fern is indicative of underwatering. Maintain the soil consistently moist but not soggy. Do not leave the soil to dry out.

  • Brown shells scattered on fronds
  • Brown shells scattered on fronds in Maidenhair Fern is an indication of an infestation by Scales. Isolate the affected plant to avoid spread to other houseplants.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Maidenhair Fern are Scales and Mealy Bugs. Isolate the affected plant to avoid spread to other houseplants.


Maidenhair Ferns are non-toxic to humans and pets. The plants are safe to grow indoors.

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