Maidenhair Fern

A Maiden Hair fern, which originated in the Brazilian tropics, can be found growing in temperate climates throughout the world. The graceful, delicate fronds sometimes reach 20″-24″ in length and are covered in tiny, triangular, bright green leaflets called pinnae. During the spring, a Maidenhair Fern produces fronds that seem to have tiny dark brown “spots” on the underside of the leaf edges. The “spots” are really fern spores; this is how the fern propagates in nature. These specialized fronds do not live as long as regular fronds and if you don’t like the way they look just cut them off.  Although a Maidenhair fern does require more care and attention, with the proper care this plant can live for a long while, growing more beautiful with each passing year.

Plant Care


A maidenhair fern prefers bright indirect light but still grows slowly in medium light. It can handle early morning sun, but afternoon sun burns the fronds.


Keep the soil moist but not soggy and never allow it to totally dry out. If the soil is too wet, a maidenhair fern develops root rot and fungal diseases.


Feed every 2 weeks during the late fall and early spring (Sept-March) with a liquid fertilizer diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. These plants love fish emulsions a plant food.


Maidenhair ferns need consistent temperatures. They can handle warmth or cold, but prefer warm areas. Never place a maidenhair fern where the temperature fluctuates constantly.


As with temperature, consistent humidity is very important. Maidenhair ferns prefer high humidity but do not like to be misted. Placing them on a pebble tray filled with water is the best solution. Be sure the plant is sitting on the pebbles and not in the water. Dry air causes the leaflets on the fronds to shrivel.


Aphids, mealy bugs, and scale are attracted to these ferns. Rinse the entire plant in soapy water to treat a pest infestation.


Because maidenhair ferns like high humidity, gray mold can be a problem.


Use a very rich, quick-draining soil.

Pot Size

These plants like to be in a small pot. Don’t move a maidenhair fern to a larger pot until its roots have filled the existing pot.


Quickly remove any dead or dying fronds; they drain the plant’s energy and slow down growth.


In nature, maidenhair ferns are propagated by the tiny spores released from the underside of their leaves. Indoors, try plant division in the spring to start new ferns.

Poisonous Plant Info

A maidenhair fern is a non-poisonous plant.


I Have My Maidenhair Fern in the Bathroom Where It’s Getting Great Light and High Humidity but It’s Still Not Doing Well. What’s Wrong?

Maidenhair ferns need consistency and they don’t get it in the bathroom. After a shower the room is warm and humid, but the rest of the day and night it’s colder and the air is much drier. Find a spot where the temperature and humidity don’t fluctuate.

I Think My Maidenhair Fern Has Aphids or Some Other Pest. There Are These Tiny Brown Things on the Fronds.

The tiny brown things are reproductive spores and are perfectly normal. The spores only appear on certain fronds so if you don’t like the way they look, cut off those fronds.

My Maidenhair Fern Was Beautiful Until We Moved to Our New House, Now It Looks Sad and Hasn’t Produced Any New Leaves in a While. It’s in a Great Location. I Don’t Understand What’s Going on?

These ferns just don’t like being moved even if it’s from one good location to another. It will take a while for it to acclimate to its new home, so be patient, sooner or later it will start growing again.