Adiantum macrophyllum

Maidenhair Ferns are among the loveliest of all. There are approximately 200 species distributed mainly in South America. The pinnate leaves are composed of numerous leaflets with faintly curved margins and sori on the underside. The sori are green at first, turning dark brown when ripe. The large leaves with four to six pairs of leaflets, almost rhomboid in outline, are typical. It is a shade-loving plant and is fairly demanding in terms of water and humidity.

It does well at a temperature of 18°-20°C (64o-680F) in winter, but tolerates temperatures up to 25° C (77° F). It must never dry out, so water regularly even in winter. Repot after two years, at which time it can be propagated by division.

Adiantum tenerum

This species is a very decorative, though tender, house plant, native to the rain forests of tropical South America. Numerous cultivars, which are hardier than the type species, are commonly grown as house plants. The most familiar is probably ‘Scutum Roseum’, with leaflets coloured deep red when young. There is also one species, A. capillus-veneris, with a range that extends from the tropics into Europe; it can be found on the At lantic seaboard and in the Mediterranean region. It has black stalks and triangular leaves, 80 cm (31 inch) long and 50 cm (20 in) wide, that are multipinnate with very thin, wedge-shaped leaflets bluntly toothed at the tips.

It requires an environment as similar as possible to its natural habitat. Very high humidity is especially important so a Ward-ian case or other glass-enclosed space is ideal. Propagate by dividing older plants or by means of spores.

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