The maidenhair fern is a fern that is suitable for both outdoor and pot cultivation, as an indoor plant. It is highly appreciated for the beauty of the foliage which combines a lively color with a light and vaporous appearance. It should certainly not be missing in our garden to give elegance to the shady and damp corners, given that the varieties offered on the market, with some care, are now adapted to any type of climate.
The Latin name is Adiantum capillus-veneris, and it was attributed to it because the delicate foliage recalls the hair of a goddess, in ancient times there were myths linked to this plant, which in µEurope is also widespread as a wild plant; it is an evergreen fern, with a small rhizomatous root system.
The maidenhair it is widespread in nature in most of the temperature zones of the globe, in Europe, Asia, Africa and America, northern and central; it is a fern with characteristic features, the leaves are composed of small leaves with a particular shape, very thin and delicate, with jagged edges, attached to each other by thin filaments with a particular black color, which stands out among the bright green foliage.
Small plants do not exceed 25-35 cm in height, and in nature tend to become falling with age; they are typical ferns of the undergrowth, which develop especially in areas characterized by streams, streams and small rivers, or by proximity to caves or other particularly shaded areas.
In Italy it is mainly used as a houseplant, while garden cultivation is almost never practiced.
Cultivating maidenhair fern
The cultivation of this fern is not easy outside of its natural environment unless it is able to reproduce it perfectly. The greatest difficulty consists in providing it with a high and constant environmental humidity as well as suitable exposure and soil. People who own shady ponds, wells or stretches of streams can put it in the garden. Elsewhere it will be necessary to be assiduous with watering and especially vaporizing.
As we all know, most of the ferns, they are plants that love semi-shaded, wet and cool areas; and Adiantum capillus is no different from most ferns. It is placed in small containers, as the root system is quite small, if compared to the size of the whole plant; it prefers semi-shaded positions, but we avoid the dark and gloomy shadow, and we prefer rather bright places.
The right brightness is indicated to us by the coloring of the leaves, which become almost yellowish when the light is excessive, and darken a lot when the light is very low.
In nature they develop in cool and humid places; in apartments they live in a constant spring, often characterized by an excessively dry climate; to keep the humidity high, we place the pots in a large pot cover, half filled with expanded clay, on which we can leave the pot on the surface; about half of the depth of the clay must be constantly immersed in the water, so that through evaporation it increases the humidity around the plant; frequent vaporizations further improve the climate. They are fairly resistant plants, which often survive even in not completely favorable conditions, but certainly good environmental humidity and the correct watering lead to healthier and more luxuriant specimens. The maidenhair ferns are watered very regularly, all year round, trying to keep the soil slightly damp and fresh: as soon as the substrate tends to dry, it is best to water it again, with small quantities of water. Every 15-20 days, add the fertilizer for green plants to the irrigating water, to slightly increase the presence of mineral salts in the soil.
We also remind you to avoid positioning the plant in a place where it is very close to direct heat sources, such as radiators or fireplaces, and also close to fans or air conditioners, which excessively dry the air. These plants can also be grown in the garden, in a humid and cool area, with a few hours of direct sun every day, but not in the hottest hours of the year; in the event of particularly cold or dry seasons, maidenhair ferns tend to reduce, or completely lose, the aerial part: they will begin to develop again as soon as the climate returns favorable. In Italy it is very easy to find specimens of Adiantum capillus grown in the nursery to be kept in the apartment; even if it is a cold-resistant plant, the fact that it has been kept for months in a temperate greenhouse makes it quite difficult to re-educate this plant to life in the open air. So if we want a maidenhair fern to grow in the garden, we avoid buying it in the autumn, rather choose a nice healthy and luxuriant one in the spring, and let's place it outdoors as soon as the night minimums are high enough; in this way the winter cold will come very gradually, allowing the plant to get used to it.