Family: Adiantaceae
Common Name: Maidenhair Fern

The delicate appearance of this popular genus of ferns belies the vigorous growth it can achieve under appropriate conditions. Comprising over 200 species worldwide, there are hardy maidenhair ferns suitable for growing in the garden as well as more tender kinds for growing as pot plants in the warm greenhouse or conservatory. This plant has a creeping rhizome, which differs with the species, dark glossy stems, and both upright and pendent fronds.


A. aethiopicum, zone 9, southern maidenhair, is native to Africa and Australia. The extensive, wiry rhizome has many branches and the numerous fronds, growing to 30 cm (12 in) long or more, have wedge-shaped leaflets with tiny serrations on their edges.

A. capillus veneris, common maidenhair or Venus' hair, zone 8, is found worldwide, in tropical and temperate regions. The rhizome is short. The fronds, up to 50 cm (20 in) long, have very dark, polished stems and serrated leaflets that vary in size and shape.

A. formosum, blackstem or giant maidenhair, zone 9, is found in Australia's New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria and also New Zealand. The extensive rhizome has many branches and many erect, forked fronds, up to 120 cm (48 in) long, with dark green, roughly diamond-shaped leaflets, 20 mm (1 in) in length.

A. hispidulum, zone 9, is from New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, the Northern Territory and New Zealand. It has a short, branched, wiry rhizome and erect fronds, up to 35 cm (14 in) long, with pale to dark green leaflets to 12 mm (½ in) in diameter. It adapts to hot, dry conditions by curling its fronds. The new fronds are pale pink in color. An extensive range of cultivars of maidenhair ferns can be obtained from specialist growers.


These ferns are not difficult to grow provided they have shade, moisture and protection from wind. Most species need additional water during the summer. They are good container plants and also grow well in gardens where there is filtered sunlight. they like a potting mix with a high peat content. Fertilize the soil with a weak solution of soluble fertilizer. Take care to avoid the foliage.


Warm humid conditions for most; zone 10 for the majority of species.

Adenium      Aechmea