Maidenhair fern - Adiantum capillus veneris - How to care for and grow your maidenhair plant




The maidenhair is one of the most beautiful and attractive plants that we find most frequently in our homes.






: Ferns and related groups












Adiantum capillus veneris


The maidenhair whose scientific name is Adiantum capillus venerisbelongs to those plants that are commonly called FERNSThey are native to temperate and tropical areas around the world.

It is one of the most attractive and widespread plants with its delightful black stems that resemble the hair of a woman.

They are plants without flowers, fruits and therefore seeds and in the botanical classification they belong to the family of Polypodiaceaewhich groups about 170 genera and more than 7000 species divided into 14 subfamilies.

The peculiarity of these plants is that until 1850 they were considered living enigmas as you did not have the faintest idea of ​​how they managed to reproduce.Only in 1850 a German bookseller understood that it multiplied through the dirt that were found on the lower page of the leaves.


In general they are easily distinguishable from higher plants as they do not have the classic visible reproductive organs such as flowers and from lower plants (mosses, lichens, mushrooms, etc.) because the plant is a HORNthat is, a plant completely formed in all its parts with root, stem, leaves, etc. with the exception of the flowers, that is the reproductive organs of the upper plants

Leaves with sporangia on the underside

The FERNS they reproduce through spores (the name SPOROPHITE derives from this) which are observed on the underside of the leaves. The spores are found inside SPORANGIUM which are none other than the capsules in which the SPORESIn turn the sporangia are gathered in called formations SORI.

The spores, when ripe, are carried by the wind and end up in the ground where they germinate and give life to new independent plants that produce GAMETI calledPROTALLO or GAMETOFITO. The sexual organs, called male ones, develop on this protalum ANTERIDS and the female ones calledARCHEGONI where the ANTEROZOI and the OOSPHERE mature respectively. The male anterozoan moves in the plant thanks to the water (rain, dew, etc.) and fertilizes the oosphere which, once fertilized (FERTILIZED EMBRYO) germinates remaining in the Archegonium (in this phase the embryo produces a kind of root called austorio which sinks into the tissues of the gametophyte to nourish itself). From this embryo the maidenhair plant we know will be born.


Maidenhair ferns are plants that do not like the sun or too bright light. In nature they grow in the undergrowth and in order to survive these conditions, they have adapted their structure and physiology. In fact, the leaves are of a very intense green color and this fact allows them to exploit even a low light intensity.

They are not particularly demanding plants, in fact the best temperatures for a perfect cultivation are around 18 ° C.

They are plants that love the air but it is necessary to pay attention to cold air currents that are not appreciated.

If you find a point in your home where you see that the plant is growing well, do not move it as this means that it has found an ideal environment for its development.

The maidenhair is a plant with splendid fronds for which an important recommendation must be made: do not use foliar polishes that are very harmful for the plant (and for all plants in general) as they clog the pores and therefore prevent the plant from carrying out its normal physiological functions.


Humidity is a determining factor for the success of its cultivation, in fact an environment that is too dry can compromise its growth and its very survival.

If we look closely at the fronds we will notice that they are very thin and thin this means that they are not able to absorb large quantities of water and at the same time they are very easy to dehydrate if left for too long in a dry environment. All this is obviated by making regular nebulizations to the fronds, twice a day during the hottest periods. This system allows to significantly reduce water loss with evaporation.

To always maintain a humid environment you can also do this: put the pot on a saucer where you have placed some gravel or other material and place the pot there. In this bed you will always keep water which evaporating will create a constantly humid environment around the plant. Pay attention that the bottom of the pot does not remain in contact with the water because in this way there is the danger of rotting the roots.

In any case, the soil must always be moderately moist, not soaked.


Maidenhair ferns are fast-growing ferns so when we notice that the plant has become too big for the pot that contains it, we transfer it.

Repotting is done in March, choosing a pot that is only slightly larger than the previous one. Repotting is also the time to eliminate dry or damaged branches.

Remember to place a layer of gravel or pebbles on the bottom of the vase to allow the water to drain more quickly and not stagnate in the bottom of the vase.

The soil to be used must consist of three parts of peat, 2 of coarse sand and a good amount of basic fertilizer.


Since it is a fast-growing plant, during the spring-summer period it is fertilized regularly every 15 days using liquid fertilizers diluted in the irrigation water.

During the autumn-winter period the plant should not be fertilized.

As for the type of fertilizer to use, use a fertilizer that contains both the so-called macroelements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) which also has microelements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), magnesium (mg) all fundamental for the growth of your Maidenhair fern.


The maidenhair does not bloom.


For this plant there is no question of real pruning: damaged or dry leaves are simply eliminated to prevent them from becoming a vehicle for parasitic diseases.

When you do any operation on the plants, always make sure that your hands are clean and that the tool you use is disinfected, preferably with the flame to avoid infecting the tissues.


Multiplication can occur in two ways or by division of the tuftsor for propagation by spores, the latter very difficult to achieve.


The division is done in the spring, roughly every three years.

You remove the plant from its pot and grab the clod with your hands and divide it into two parts (or more depending on the size of the plant) as shown in the photo, taking care that each portion has at least two buds.

Each portion is then planted in a single pot using soil as indicated for adult plants and treated as such.


The maidenhair spore multiplication is not easy to do in the apartment but, if you want to try, here's how to do it.

In spring, get some spore-rich leaves. Collect the spores by scraping them and drop them on a sheet of paper. In the meantime, prepare a small box where you will have placed some earth and 50% peat. In this soil settle the spores.

Wet the soil so that it is evenly moist and close it with a glass plate or a transparent plastic sheet. This cassette should therefore be placed in a dark place and at a temperature around 20-23 ° C.

Every day open the box and check the humidity (if the soil has dried, moisten it) and remove the condensation that has formed in the plastic or glass.

After a period of two to three months the spores should start to germinate and you will see the new seedlings. At that point take the box and put it in a bright place (but not too bright and not in direct sun) and leave it there, without glass or plastic and continue to keep the soil always constantly moist.

Once the new seedlings have grown, transplant them in groups of 2-3 in small pots (diameter not exceeding 6-7 cm) and treat them as adult plants.


The leaves dry out and fall off

Dry leaves are a symptom of poor watering and low humidity.
Remedy: as a first step you must immerse the pot in a basin of water in order to wet the earth well. Then all the excess water is drained off and then the jar is put back in its place. However, for the future, remember to better regulate both irrigation and humidity.

The leaves appear very light and discolored

Contrary to what one might think, this syntony means that the plant is too exposed to the sun.
Remedy: it is necessary to place the plant in a less bright position.

The leaves curl

If the leaves appear curled, it means that the ambient temperature is too low.
Remedy: Place the plant in a warmer location.

The leaves appear dark edged and wither quickly

This symptom is a clear indication that the environment in which the plant is located is too hot.
Remedy: move the plant to a cooler place.

The leaves have dark spots

This symptom in maidenhair fern is often a symptom of an attack acting in general due to an excess of damp and / or water either as irrigation or perhaps a stagnation in the saucer.
Remedy: immediately eliminate the damaged parts and use specific anti-fungal products available from a good nurseryman.

Presence of spots on the underside of the leaves

The presence of brown spots could be an alarm bell that could mean that you are in the presence of cochineal: brown cochineal or mealy or cottony cochineal. To be sure, use a magnifying glass and observe them. Compare them with the photo shown and if you try to remove them with a fingernail, they come off easily.

Remedies: use a cotton swab soaked in alcohol or if the plant is large and potted, you can wash it with water and neutral soap by rubbing gently with a sponge to remove the parasites, after which rinse the plant very well to remove the soap. For larger plants you can use specific pesticides available from a good nurseryman.


Pteridophytes are plants that appeared on earth 350 million years ago and are still among us.

The great Italian writer Cesare Pavese (born in Santo Stefano Belbo in Langhenel 1908 and died in Turin in 1950) often speaks of the Maidenhair fern in his books as it was a plant he frequently encountered in the Langhe caves.


For its medicinal properties see: "Medicinal plants: the maidenhair fern".


To find out what the maidenhair represents in symbolism go to: «The language of the flowers and plants».

Video: How To Grow A Maidens Hair Fern. Adiantum. 4 Simple Rules. Nandanam Exotics. By Nirmal Kumar

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