Maidenhair Ferns are one of the most popular of all ferns for house culture. Many are also excellent garden plants.
There are more than 200 species and many cultivars varying from hardy to tender varieties. Australia & New Zealand have has many native species of Maidenhair. Foliage varies from beautifully tinted new leaf growth to curiously shaped, interesting leaves. Sized from compact dwarf up to a metre or more in height. All Maidenhair Ferns have black shining leaf stems.
Maidenhair Ferns grow best in a well-lit position, even tolerating a little early morning sun. They like either a warm or a cool position, however best growth is achieved with warmth. Maidenhair Ferns need a consistent environment to thrive. The most difficult position is the bathroom where it is warm and humid after a shower but cold dry for the rest of the time. Maidenhairs prefer a situation that has stable temperature and humidity levels like kitchen windowsills and sunrooms. They do not like being moved as this sets them back until they can adjust to the new set of conditions. Provide humidity indoors by standing the pots on top of pebble filled trays or saucers, keep the saucers filled with water to just below the bottom of the pot. In this way the evaporating water provides humidity without the pot and potting mix becoming waterlogged.
Maidenhair Ferns grow well outside if, they are protected from winds. Good locations are, protected patios, shade houses. They do well in positions where they get some early morning sun or filtered sunlight.
Watering & Fertilizing
Maidenhair Ferns need to be keep evenly moist all year round. From September to March feed them every two weeks with one of the liquid organic fertilizers like Maxicrop or Nitrosol.
Re-pot between September and February, using a Premium Quality Potting Mix. Take care not to pot the crown of the plant below the soil level as it is from this point that the new fronds develop.
The main problem is finding the right position for the fern to grow in. Maidenhairs sometimes get Aphids and Mealy Bugs, which can be controlled with a Pyrethrum spray or cotton buds dipped in Methylated Spirits. Occasionally mealy bugs can be a problem and appear as small balls of white fuzz looking like cotton wool. Under this fuzz is an insect, sucking out the plant’s sap.
Another thing, which appears to be a pest, BUT IS NOT, are the fern’s seeds. Often in spring the fern produce leaves with dark brown spots around the leaf edges. These are in fact fern “spore”. If the appearance of these fronds is not liked, they can be cut off without injuring the fern in any way. These fronds do not usually last as long as spore free fronds.