50 Natives: Kentucky: Adiantum capillus-veneris – Maidenhair Fern

Maidenhair  Ferns have some sort of magnetic quality.  I am so overwhelmingly attracted to them,  like a moth to a flame, an aardvark to and anthill, a crack addict to…. whatever….I have purchased and subsequently  killed more of these plants than I care to admit.  I have a fatal attraction for Adiantum capillus-veneris that started in London after seeing it presented as a viable houseplant (well, not in my house) in a posh garden store. It’s a cruel and unforgiving addiction and I am thankful that Boston doesn’t have too many hip outlets offering it.

Adiantum capillus-veneris - Maidenhair Fern

1. Maidenhair at Montreal Botanical Garden, 2. Adiantum jordanii California Maidenhair Fern, 3. Maidenhair Fern – Adiantum pedatum ‘Japonicum’, 4. Maidenhair Fern

If I lived down south though, I would surely be a sucker for this delicate beauty again, but here, I have learned my lesson.  I simply look longingly when in the fancy floral shop and feel sorry for the poor fool who parts with her money to try it at home.

maiden hair fern

But In my imaginary southern (Kentucky?) garden I would have a beautiful waterfall feature with damp limestone ledges that would be the perfect place for my Maidenhair to thrive.   Or perhaps a a damp north facing hillside that I can walk through and enjoy the ethereal feeling of being amongst these airy, graceful plants.

I adore this plant combination of Gentians and Maidenhair Fern taken by Kay and DaveDo you have a fatal attraction to a plant?  Or perhaps you have no issue or even success with the maidenhair fern….I would love to hear about both.

maidenhair fern botanical drawing

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.
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  1. Megan on March 30, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    I kept mine alive indoors for about a year, but it was never happy. It finally went to plant heaven. I’m thinking about giving it a shot outside though.

  2. David Eickhoff on May 5, 2010 at 8:53 pm


    Just working on this species called ‘iwa’iwa here which is native to Hawaii, but not very common. This is one of my favorite ferns. It grows very well in shady wet conditions in my open air shadehouse year round. They love to grow on wet, mossy concrete bricks perhaps because of the fact that the bricks are made of limestone. it often comes up as volunteers on shadehouse floor and in pots of other plants.

    Visit us at http://nativeplants.hawaii.edu and let us know what you think. The profile for Adiantum capillus-veneris should e going soon, but won’t have pictures for a few more weeks.

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