Adiantum maidenhair fern

Height: 23-38cm (9-15in)

Type: herbaceous

Height: 15-45cm (6-18in)

Planting: distance: 23-60cm (9-24in)

Features: decorative foliage

Soil: peaty, moist

Site: partial shade

Maidenhair fern unfurls in spring to form a mass of delicate foliage. It is a good toil for flowering plants and looks attractive beneath trees and beside cold sunless walls.

Popular species

Adiantum pedatum has purple stems bearing graceful drooping fronds which form a cloud of light green foliage, darkening slightly as it matures. It is 45cm (1 1/2) tall and 60cm (2ft) across. The fronds die down after the first frost. Adiantum venustum has copper-pink fronds in spring, later becoming light green, then gaining a blue-green tinge as it matures. Fully-grown it is 15cm (6in) tall and 23cm (9in) across. The fronds survive the winter, turning a warm brown after the first frost.


Plant in mid spring in semi-shade in moist soil enriched with bonemeal and leafmould or a peat substitute. Plant the rhizomes of A. pedatum no more than 2.5cm (1 in) deep; A. venustum 1.2cm deep. Top dress with bonemeal each spring.

Propagation: Divide in early spring or early autumn. Pot out in a shady place and keep moist.

Pests and diseases: Woodlice may eat the roots and root mealy bugs can infest the root system and check growth.

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