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Adiantum raddianum -The ‘Delta Maidenhair Fern’. 

The Adiantum is one of the most delicate ferns for growing indoors. Its common name of Maidenhair Fern describes it well.

It has few likes and dislikes. Take care of these as set out below and you should have years of pleasure from your Maidenhair fern as a houseplant. Most of the Maidenhair Ferns we grow indoors (there are several types) are from tropical and sub-tropical climes, and they should not be confused with the hardy Adiantum ferns that can be seen growing in woodland or on walls.

Tender Maidenhair Ferns are normally at home in wide range of habitats, including the edges of woodland areas, in dense shade of forests. Basically it is one of the shade or semi-shade loving groups of ferns.

The Plant: Delicately waving light green fronds on thin black stems. The Delta Fern, is fully evergreen, so loss of foliage is a sign that something, somewhere is wrong!

Advice and information for successful care of Maidenhair fern.

 Its needs: Maidenhair Ferns need a draught-free shady spot, which  should not be too hard to find for your prize indoor plant. A window sill is the last place to put it, unless it is totally away from the sun, and then only for short periods. Here we have a house plant which is for the darker areas of the house!

So, no direct sun. It prefers a free-draining organic-based compost, rather than the soil type composts (Its' natural habitat is normally richly organic. The compost should be kept moist kept moist from spring through to autumn, but not stood in a permanent saucer of water. Less water required during the winter rest period, but do not let it dry out completely.

Feed monthly except during winter, using a general liquid feed. Be careful not to overfeed this or any other ferns you might grow. They depend upon the slow release of nutrients from organic soils generally. Cool humid conditions, but avoid temperature ‘swings’. In very dry conditions, use a fine mist spray of cool water on the foliage of your Maidenhair Fern.

Maidenhair Fern - a dainty houseplant indoorsCare of Maidenhair Fern:

Cut off dead or fading fronds as they appear. Other than keeping the plant tidy, this will allow space for new shoots to emerge. Do not allow the compost to dry out, but neither should it be kept soggy. Remember its' natural habitat. It is not a bog plans.

If it needs re-potting, then this should be carried out in the spring, trying to match the existing compost type. It should not be re-potted in the winter.

Mature Maidenhair Ferns produce spore-sacs, (sporangia), on underside of the leaves. Do not confuse these with leaf scale, (brown ‘blimps’ on leaf underside).

Good for:

Adiantum - Maidenhair Fern - is decorative on its own and can be a good specimen house plant. It is also suitable for adding to indoor plant arrangements, or good for texture/softening a display. The foliage is normally a bright green.

Problems with Maidenhair Fern

 Brown Scale insects on the stems - hard to see because of the stem colour. Also prone to mealy bugs which hide in any stemn or foliage crevice they can find - white fluffy little insects. Also red spider mite, which is almost impossible to see indoors, but the first sign is normally a mottling of the small leaves or general look of 'something not being right!'

Propagation of Maidenhair Fern

Adiantum as an indoor plant, is best propagated by carefully dividing the root ball in the spring. You may also find a few small clumpy offshoots at the base. The y\do not grow from cuttings.

The spores can be scattered on peat compost as soon as ripe, and kept in a well shaded area with heat at minimum of 15C. The better way, is to cut a full leaf of ripe spores and lay on the compost.

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By David Hughes - info@gardenseeker.com