Plants are one of the most successful groups of organisms that are found in nearly every condition, from cold, rocky, and barren cliffs to the scorching habitat of deserts. They can tolerate any harsh conditions, and their seeds can survive for eons by going dormant and regenerating once the conditions become favorable. But the maidenhair fern is the exact opposite. It requires very specific, moist conditions to survive. You can not kill it by overwatering it. No matter how much you water it, maidenhair fern still needs more water. On the other hand, it rewards you with the generous growth of leaves once you start fulfilling its water requirements.
From Water to Land
Before we start talking about maidenhair ferns, let us clarify a few things about plants in general. Plants, like animals, moved from water to land. When we see different plant groups, taxa, and categories, we are looking at their stage of moving away from water to terrestrial conditions. Ferns share an intermediate stage, where they are neither too dependent on water to grow and reproduce, nor do they bear complicated reproductive organs, seeds, or flowers.
When plants migrated towards land, they still required water to germinate, grow, and reproduce. They did not have seeds, flowers, or fruit. On the other hand, they produced spores that could only swim through water. These spores were not air-borne. Ferns belong to that class of plants, then there are advanced groups of plants like gymnosperms that bear seeds (but not flowers), and flowering plants called angiosperms that bear spectacular flowers and delicious fruits.
Maidenhair fern is included in higher plants because it has vascular bundles, unlike algae and bryophytes that lack xylem and phloem, tissue meant for the transport of water and food. But, on the other hand, maidenhair fern is water-loving and requires moist places to grow well.
Seed-bearing and flowering plants have matchless longevity, and they can survive in very harsh conditions. But, on the other hand, maidenhair fern is very sensitive about its habitat and you will kill it if you do not take care of this fragile, delicate, and finicky plant.
What is Maidenhair Fern?
The name maidenhair refers to the stunningly beautiful, profuse leaves of the genus Adiantum that come in nearly 200 varieties grown around the globe. The word Adiantum is derived from the Greek word “adiantos” which means únwetted’. It is verbatim true for the leaves of these plants, as they are water-repelling. Ferns do not like water as much as mosses do, but they still need watery, moist places to grow well.
This plant bears fan-shaped, much-branched, bipinnate leaves attached with a delicate petiole. These leaves remain spectacular for all of their life, having great esthetic value for humans. That is the reason for it to be found indoors as well as outdoors.
Despite being an ornamental and decorative plant in houses, offices, and other buildings, it grows well on rocky mountains, in the crevices and depressions where it can find accumulated water.
How to Care?
Being very sensitive to humidity, these plants are a living hygroscope. They can detect even a minor change in the atmospheric moisture and respond to it. If you do not want to kill them, place them in a hydrant, moist, and humid environment. That is the reason for them being the most difficult plants to grow indoors. But, on the other hand, if you maintain the specific conditions it requires to grow, they add matchless and spectacular beauty to your plant collection.
When they grow in a natural forest, they love to grow under a tree canopy so that they can receive filtered, optimum light. This is because they detest direct sunlight by all means. If you are thinking of growing them indoors, try not to put them in direct sunlight, or they will scorch and their leaves will almost burn.
Maidenhair ferns require moist but well-drained soil to flourish. The soil must be of the texture that it can absorb and retain moisture. Try putting moss, organic matter, or compost in it to help it incorporate and retain water.
Ferns do not survive without water. Place them in a moist environment and ensure that you have multiple sources of water for them. You should water them several times a day, and make sure that they are wet most of the time.
Placing Maidenhair ferns in a plastic pot with drainage holes is a good idea. Then, the plastic pot with plants in it can be placed in a decorative cachepot. Do not use clay pots because they let water drain through them.
Keep in mind that water should not make the soil soggy.
Humidity and temperature
Try putting the pot near a humidifier or atop water-soaked pebbles. You can try putting it near some moisture-rich atmosphere such as a bathroom or garden greenhouse. You should try misting the plants with warm water a few times a day.
If you notice that the leaves are falling off or starting to dry out, it means that plants need more humidity. Try putting them where the temperature is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is not necessary to fertilize the ferns for them to grow properly, but if you want to use some to see a profuse growth, use a light one. Try diluting it several times and try to use it in minute amounts. If you put too much fertilizer in the soil, its leaves may start to burn and the plant could die.
Regular trimming of older and curled leaves is a good measure that ensures the rapid growth of foliage. On the other hand, if you must add fertilizer, try using animal manure. Maidenhair fern will enhance growth without being toxic.
Repotting the ferns
Maidenhair fern does not mind being over-crowded a little bit, so it is not necessary to report them. But, you can report them easily. You can carry out repotting every six months if your ferns are showing profound growth. However, you should not use fertilizer on new pots, because it can do more harm than good.