Botanical Name — Adiantum pedatum
Common Name — Northern maidenhair fern, Five-fingered fern
Plant Family — Pteridaceae
Native to the cool, moist forests of eastern North America, Northern maidenhair ferns prefer moist, organically rich soil, high humidity and mild temperatures. Well cared for plants can grow to be up to two feet tall. The genera, Adiantum comes from the Greek word adiantos meaning “unwetted”, and refers to the plants water repellent foliage. This plant spreads by creeping, branching rhizomes forming large colonies over time.
- These ferns, low-lying in their native environment, grow best in light shade.
- Place in a spot that gets indirect morning or afternoon sun. A north or east facing window would be a great place.
- Your Northern Maidenhair will thrive in high humidity environments. Ambient moisture is essential to keeping these feathery fronds lush and green in color. A bathroom or kitchen where there is plenty of humidity is a great spot.
- A temperature of about 70°F is ideal, avoid anything below 60°F.
- Consistent temperature is key. These ferns are not very tolerant of temperature fluctuations or cold, drafty air.
- Keep soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Water when the very top of the soil feels dry to the touch. For a 6 inch sized pot, this should be about every 2 to 3 days. In very warm conditions it could be as often as every day or every other day.
- In their native environment, maidenhair ferns are spoiled by a rich, moist, well-drained soil, and fertilized by decaying organic matter. Coco coir and compost are excellent amendments to ensure that soil provides adequate moisture and is high in organic nutrients.
- Ferns reproduce by spores, and therefore don’t produce any flowers.
- Fertilization is generally not necessary, but if you choose to fertilize feed your fern once every two weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer diluted at half the recommended strength. Ferns love fish emulsion.
- The easiest way to propagate these plants is by division. Using a clean, sharp knife or gardening spade, divide the roots into smaller sections, with two or three healthy fronds each. Plant each piece into its own pot and water thoroughly.
- Because these plants like moisture and high humidity, gray mold and other types of fungal infections are a concern. Prune away any unhealthy fronds and treat with a fungicide for plants. If mold is found in the soil prune away any affected roots and repot the plant in a clean pot using fresh soil.
- Aphids, mealy bugs, and scale are attracted to these plants. To treat, wipe leaves with rubbing alcohol or diluted neem oil.
- If infestation is especially bad, washing the foliage with a gentle soap is known to be effective. Be sure to rinse thoroughly.
Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)
- Repot when the plant is rootbound, and only during the spring and summer. These will do best in a plastic or glazed clay pot. Clay alone would wick away moisture and leave the soil prone to dryness.
- Even in the most ideal conditions, lower fronds will brown and eventually die. Pruning these away will allow the plant to dedicate energy to producing new growth.
- These plants are non-toxic to both pets and humans.