Plant Profile: How to Care for Maidenhair Fern

Maindenhair fern plants are found in homes around the world. In fact, they are one of the most popular house plants. Although popular, the plants can be difficult to care for, which is why we have created this maidenhair fern care guide.

Maidenhair Fern Care Guide

  • Ideal light: Dappled
  • Ideal humidity: Over 50%
  • Ideal temperature: 21C/70F
  • Watering: Maintain moistness
  • Fertilise: Once a month
  • Bloom? No
  • Toxic? No
  • Propagation: Spores
  • Pests: Mealybugs, scale, and aphids
  • Potting medium: Potting mix + perlite

Where do maidenhair ferns come from?

 You will find wild maidenhair ferns in North America, Japan, and the Pacific Northwest. In fact, you should be able to find some in all continents around the world (but not Antarctica). Basically, anywhere that is moist and warm. To find them, you should look between the rocks in forest environments.

With their natural environment in mind, it is clear to see why this plant can be hard to take care of. Well, unless your front room is a moist forest. The aim of the game is to recreate the plants natural habitat as close as possible.

Where should I put my maidenhair fern?

The answer to this depends on which type of maidenhair fern that you own. In fact, there are over 200 types available. While some of these can be kept in your garden, the most common types are to be kept indoors.

Personally, I like to keep my maidenhair fern plants in the front room, only a few feet from a large window. However, in the height of summer, I like to move my plant to somewhere with slightly less direct light.

Best light conditions for maidenhair ferns?

Maidenhair ferns enjoy bright light conditions, but they are vulnerable to long times in direct light. The best idea is to copy the natural light conditions. In the wild, maindenhair ferns receive dappled light, so I recommend replicating this. Be sure to check for signs that your plant isn’t getting enough light. If it isn’t, your fern may have yellow fronds.

My maidenhair fern receives direct sunlight every morning, which is why the plant is rapidly growing month on month.

Best temperature for maidenhair ferns?

Maidenhair ferns can be kept in different temperatures. However, the Peruvian maidenhair fern should be kept in temperatures above 16C/60F. The ideal maidenhair fern temperature is roughly 21C/70F.

Best humidity for maidenhair ferns?

Maidenhair ferns are plants that appreciate high humidity levels. We recommended buying a humidifier if you plan to care for maidenhair ferns. You could also store the plant in your shower room or other room with higher humidity levels.

A small, natural breeze from an open door or window is okay. However, you should protect your plant from artificial hot or cold air. This is not stop dry air from damaging the natural transpiration process.

How to water maidenhair ferns?

You can water maidenhair ferns by using the water straight from your tap, but the water shouldn’t be too hard.

Like with all plants, you should only use water that is roughly room temperature, so that the plant isn’t shocked. You will also want to ensure that the water reaches every corner of the pot.

The number one priority is to not let your maidenhair fern become dry. It is best to overwater your plant, rather than underwater it. The plant will still survive is left dry for a day or two, but you should water regularly for the healthiest maidenhair fern plant.

I recommend keeping the soil moist, but that doesn’t mean you should allow the soil to become soggy and waterlogged. Maidenhair ferns that sit in water are vulnerable to root rot and other problems.

Asparagus ferns are better for people who don’t have the time or patience to water their plant frequently. These plants aren’t technically ferns, but they look very similar.

How to fertilise maidenhair ferns?

It is simple to fertilise maidenhair ferns. I recommend using a diluted fertiliser once a month. I like to add a small drop to my watering bottle, but you may want to follow the instructions on the fertiliser bottle. Pro tip – use half the amount of fertiliser that is recommended.

Pests common to maidenhair fern?

There aren’t loads of pests that like maidenhair ferns, but you may notice mealybugs, scale, and aphids. These pests won’t harm your plant, but you can get rid of maidenhair fern pests by spraying the plant with a soapy solution of insecticide.

Potting mix for maidenhair fern?

You don’t need a special potting mix for maidenhair fern plants – Phew! I like to use a combination of plotting mix and perlite. Ferns enjoy moist soil, but a potting mix that drains easily is recommended.

What is the best pot for maidenhair ferns?

Your choice is personal preference. Many people keep their maidenhair ferns in terracotta pots, as they are great for preventing overwatering.

However, using terracotta pots will mean that you have to check on your plants more often, which could mean checking them every day during summer.

The rule is to not let your maidenhair fern dry out, so I recommend using a solid pot with a single drainage hole.

Are maidenhair ferns toxic?

Maidenhair ferns are not toxic plants.

In fact, maidenhair fern is a common ingredient in herbal remedies, although it hasn’t been proved if they can successfully treat any conditions.

How to propagate maidenhair ferns?

Maidenhair ferns are able to propagate by releasing their spores. You can propagate your plant by using the division technique. Whatever technique you decide to use, you should propagate during summer for the highest chance of success.

Maidenhair fern facts

  • Wild maidenhair fern plants are found in New Zealand
  • There are over 200 species
  • They can reach up to 1m (3 feet) high
  • They dry out very quickly
  • People grow maidenhair ferns in terrariums
  • They can be difficult to care for


Even though maidenhair ferns have a notorious reputation for being hard to care for, this doesn’t have to be the case. You just need to keep two things in mind: light and water.

A frequently watered maidenhair fern in a bright environment will flourish and grow in size. In fact, maidenhair ferns grow so rapidly that you may want to invest in a large pot to start.

If you’re every in doubt about your maidenhair fern, you should think about the plant’s natural habitat. Does your home have forest-like conditions to keep the plant happy? Only you know.