Ferns are awesome – there’s something decidedly prehistoric about them that is just delightful. If I had to pick a (fern) favourite, it will have to be the Maidenhair Fern. More specifically Adiantum raddianum with its lush fronds of delicate green leaflets. Up until recently though, I have been terrible with Maidenhair Ferns – I think the record was about 5 whole days between bringing the plant home from the garden store and it dying on me. This is the story of the first Maidenhair I managed to rescue.

I live in New Zealand (sub-tropical climate), so we definitely don’t have that tropical rainforest-like humidity outdoors. We could however, with a bit of thoughtfulness, make the Maidenhair happy enough to thrive indoors.

First, here’s a look at what I had to work with:

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Actually, it was even worse that that.

The above photos were about a week after I brought the plant indoors in the middle of winter. It was outside, forgotten after a rather hectic house move and I happened to find it behind some larger plants outside – It was almost gone with the tiniest bit of green still holding on for dear life.

I moved it to the bathroom – basically the most humid room in the house, and what followed was watering the drip tray (never the plant directly) and misting the leaves thoroughly every couple of days. And it worked!

1 Month Later

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2 Months Later

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3.5 Months Later

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How lush are those fronds!

Here are some handy tips to save a potted Maidenhair:

  • Bring it indoors – unless you’re in the tropics, leaving this little gem outside would be quite a gamble. If you’re in the tropics though, you’re probably swimming in Maidenhairs! Lucky you!
  • Do not repot right away unless you have to – your plant is probably under a lot of stress so don’t stress it out even more by repotting it, unless you absolutely have to. Unless the soil condition is very poor or ‘wrong’, don’t repot it yet. You can do that when the plant is healthier.
  • Find a humid spot for the plant to live indoors – the bathroom worked for me. But if this is not an option for you, pick a spot with filtered sunlight away from draughts.
  • Place the pot on a pebble tray – A pebble tray is exactly what it sounds like, and this will help increase humidity for the plant
  • Water the pebble tray and not the plant directly – I admit I have no idea why this worked, but it did. I have had former plants die in this state, after watering the plant/soil directly.
  • Mist the leaves occasionally – again, increases humidity.

After treating the plant this way for about 4 months, it was looking rather healthy and happy. It’s now out of the bathroom, still indoors but kept away from any ventilation ducts or draughts.

 

7 months later – this is what we have!

Maidenhair fern

All the best!

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