top of page

Maidenhair Fern Care: How To Keep Your Ferns Looking Lush and Lovely

maidenhair fern care

If you're looking for a beautiful and easy-to-care-for plant to add to your indoor garden, you might want to consider the Maidenhair fern.

This delicate fern has feathery fronds that resemble hair and can bring a touch of nature and elegance to any room in your home.

But like any plant, it requires specific care to thrive. In this article, we'll take a deep dive into Maidenhair fern care, covering everything from when to plant and how to care for it to common problems and how to troubleshoot them. So, let's get started!

All About Maidenhair Fern

The Maidenhair fern, also known as Adiantum, is a type of fern that is native to the subtropical regions of the world, such as South America and Asia.

There are around 200 different species of this fern, but the most commonly grown is the Adiantum raddianum.

This fern has small, triangular fronds that are divided into delicate, lacy segments. The plant itself can grow up to 12-24 inches in height and width, making it perfect for small spaces.

When To Plant Maidenhair Fern

Maidenhair ferns can be planted at any time of the year, but it's best to do it in the spring or fall when the temperatures are mild.

If you live in a cold climate, it's important to make sure the fern is planted in a location that is protected from frost and freezing temperatures.

You can also plant your fern indoors in a pot or container, which allows you to control the temperature and environment.

Maidenhair Fern Care

Light & Temperature

maidenhair fern care

Maidenhair ferns prefer indirect, bright light, but they cannot tolerate direct sunlight. If you place your fern in direct sunlight, the fronds will burn and turn brown.

It's best to place the fern near a window that receives bright, filtered light. In terms of temperature, the Maidenhair fern prefers a range of 60-75°F, which makes it ideal for indoor growing.

It's important to keep the fern away from drafty areas, such as air conditioning or heating vents.

RELATED: Top 5 Best Grow Lights For Indoor Plants

Water & Humidity

maidenhair fern care

Maidenhair ferns require consistent moisture, but they do not like to be overwatered. It's important to keep the soil moist, but not saturated. If the soil is too wet, the fern's roots can become waterlogged and start to rot.

To water your fern, fill a watering can with room temperature water and pour it onto the soil until it drains out of the bottom of the pot. It's important to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged.

In terms of humidity, the Maidenhair fern thrives in high humidity environments. You can increase the humidity around your fern by misting it with room temperature water or placing a humidifier near the plant.

If the air in your home is particularly dry, you can also place a tray of water near the fern to increase the humidity.

RELATED: Top 10 Watering Cans to Keep Your Garden Thriving


maidenhair fern care

Maidenhair ferns prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. A good potting mix for this fern should contain peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite.

It's important to make sure the soil is loose and airy, as compact soil can prevent water from draining properly and cause root rot.

RELATED: Dirt Matters: A Guide to Choosing the Right Soil for Your Plants


maidenhair fern care

Maidenhair ferns do not require a lot of fertilizer, but they do benefit from occasional feedings.

It's best to use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season, which is typically spring and summer.

It's important to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package and not to overfeed the fern, as this can lead to fertilizer burn.

RELATED: 10 Organic Fertilizers for Optimal Plant Health


maidenhair fern care

Maidenhair fern plants generally do not require repotting very often, as they prefer to be somewhat root-bound.

However, if you notice that your fern's roots are starting to grow out of the bottom of the pot or the soil is becoming compacted, it may be time to repot. The best time to repot your fern is in the spring, before the growing season begins.

To repot your Maidenhair fern, gently remove it from its old pot and carefully loosen any tangled or compacted roots. Choose a new pot that is only slightly larger than the previous one and fill it with fresh potting soil.

Place the fern in the new pot, making sure the top of the root ball is level with the top of the soil. Water the plant thoroughly and place it in a location that receives bright, filtered light.


Maidenhair ferns can be propagated through division or spores. Division involves separating the fern into smaller sections and replanting them in new pots.

To do this, gently remove the fern from its pot and separate the root ball into sections using your hands or a sharp knife. Replant each section in a new pot filled with fresh potting soil and water thoroughly.

Propagation by spores is a bit more complex, as it involves collecting and sowing the fern's spores. To do this, wait until the fern produces spores on the undersides of its fronds.

Collect the spores by placing a piece of paper under the fronds and gently tapping them. The spores will fall onto the paper.

Sow the spores onto a tray filled with sterile potting soil and cover the tray with plastic wrap to create a humid environment.

Keep the tray in a warm, bright location and mist it with water as needed. After a few weeks, the spores will germinate and begin to grow into small ferns.


maidenhair fern care

Maidenhair ferns do not require a lot of pruning, but it's a good idea to remove any brown or yellowing fronds to keep the plant looking its best.

Use a pair of sharp scissors or pruning shears to carefully remove the damaged fronds at the base of the plant.

It's important not to remove too many fronds at once, as this can stress the plant and prevent it from growing properly.

RELATED: 10 Pruning Sheers that will Give your Garden a Professional Touch

Troubleshooting Maidenhair Fern Problems

Growing Problems

Maidenhair ferns are generally easy to care for, but they can develop some problems if their growing conditions are not ideal.

One common problem is stunted growth, which can occur if the fern is not receiving enough light or nutrients.

To fix this problem, move the fern to a brighter location and start feeding it with a balanced fertilizer every two weeks.

Another common problem is yellowing or browning fronds, which can be caused by overwatering or underwatering.

To fix this problem, check the soil moisture level and adjust your watering schedule accordingly. It's also a good idea to check the drainage holes in the pot to make sure water is not accumulating at the bottom.


maidenhair fern care

Maidenhair ferns can be susceptible to a few different pests, including spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects.

To prevent these pests, keep your fern in a clean and well-ventilated location and avoid overwatering.

If you notice any pests on your fern, isolate it from other plants and treat it with an insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Repeat the treatment every few weeks until the pests are gone.


Maidenhair ferns can develop a few different diseases, such as root rot and leaf spot.

Root rot is caused by overwatering and can be prevented by ensuring the soil is well-draining and not waterlogged.

Leaf spot is caused by fungal infections and can be prevented by keeping the fern in a well-ventilated location and avoiding getting water on the leaves.

If you notice signs of disease on your fern, remove any infected fronds and treat the plant with a fungicide according to the instructions on the label.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an overwatered maidenhair fern look like?

An overwatered Maidenhair fern will often have yellowed or wilted fronds, and the soil may feel constantly wet or waterlogged.

The fronds may also turn brown at the tips and begin to curl or shrivel up. In severe cases, the roots may become mushy or develop a foul odor.

Overwatering is a common problem for Maidenhair ferns, as they prefer to be kept consistently moist but not waterlogged.

If you suspect that your Maidenhair fern is being overwatered, it's important to reduce the frequency of watering and ensure that the soil has adequate drainage to prevent water from pooling at the roots.

Why does my maidenhair fern have brown tips?

Brown tips on Maidenhair fern fronds can be a sign of several different problems. One common cause is underwatering, which can cause the tips of the fronds to dry out and turn brown.

In this case, it's important to ensure that the fern is receiving adequate water, and that the soil is consistently moist.

Another possible cause of brown tips is overfertilization. Maidenhair ferns are sensitive to high levels of salts and minerals, which can build up in the soil over time and cause the fronds to turn brown.

If you suspect that overfertilization may be the problem, it's important to reduce the frequency of fertilization and flush the soil with water to help remove any excess salts.

Brown tips can also be caused by exposure to dry air, particularly in the winter months when indoor heating systems can dry out the air in your home.

To prevent this problem, try misting your Maidenhair fern regularly or placing a humidifier nearby to increase the humidity in the air around the plant.

Lastly, it's possible that the brown tips on your Maidenhair fern are simply a natural part of the plant's growth cycle.

As individual fronds age and mature, it's common for their tips to turn brown and dry out. In this case, simply trim off the browned tips to keep the plant looking neat and healthy.

Why are my maidenhair fern leaves crispy?

Crispy leaves on Maidenhair ferns can be a sign of several different issues. One common cause is low humidity levels, which can cause the leaves to dry out and become crispy.

Maidenhair ferns are native to humid environments, so they require a fairly high level of moisture in the air to thrive.

If the air in your home is dry, it's important to increase humidity levels around your Maidenhair fern by misting the leaves regularly or placing a humidifier nearby.

Another possible cause of crispy leaves is underwatering. Maidenhair ferns prefer consistently moist soil, so if the soil dries out too much between watering, the leaves may become crispy and dry.

In this case, it's important to increase the frequency of watering and ensure that the soil is staying moist but not waterlogged.

Overexposure to direct sunlight can also cause Maidenhair fern leaves to become crispy and dry.

These ferns prefer bright, filtered light, so it's important to avoid placing them in direct sunlight, which can cause the leaves to burn and dry out.

Instead, try placing your Maidenhair fern near a bright window that receives indirect light.

Lastly, crispy leaves can be a sign of pests, such as spider mites or mealybugs. These insects can damage the leaves and cause them to become dry and crispy.

If you suspect that pests may be the problem, inspect the plant closely and treat it with an insecticidal soap or other appropriate treatment according to the instructions on the label.


Maidenhair ferns are beautiful and delicate plants that can add a touch of elegance to any indoor space. With the right care and attention, they can thrive and provide years of enjoyment.

When it comes to caring for your Maidenhair fern, remember to provide it with bright, filtered light, regular watering, and a well-draining potting mix.

Keep an eye out for any signs of pests or disease, and take action promptly to prevent them from spreading.

Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a beginner, there's nothing quite like the feeling of successfully caring for a delicate and beautiful plant like the Maidenhair fern.

With the information and tips provided in this article, you'll be well on your way to growing a healthy and vibrant Maidenhair fern in your own home. Happy gardening!

Establish Growers is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

bottom of page