The Southern maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) is a low-maintenance, shade-loving perennial fern. This fern has fan-shaped, light-green fronds that grow from thin, dark-colored stalks. Popular as both a houseplant and a shade-garden plant, if grown outdoors the Southern maidenhair fern grows best in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 5 through 8, where minimum annual temperatures don’t drop below -15 degrees F. Growing the Southern maidenhair fern is easy, and the plant will reach up to 2-1/2 feet tall and wide at maturity.
Select a planting site for your Southern maidenhair fern that is in partial to full shade and has moist soil. Dig a planting hole for each fern that is the same depth as and twice the width of the nursery container, spacing the holes about 2-1/2 feet apart.
Mix into the displaced soil some organic compost, as well as some coarse sand if the soil is compacted or extremely heavy. Remove the fern from the container and place the roots into the planting hole.
Backfill the planting hole with the amended soil. Water the soil thoroughly to soak it down to the root zone.
Spread a 2-inch layer of organic mulch on the ground around the base of the fern so that the mulch covers the entire root zone.
Water the Southern maidenhair fern once or twice each week to keep the soil moist to wet at all times. Water the fern more frequently during dry spells or droughts. Mist the fern’s foliage to provide added humidity.
Feed the Southern maidenhair fern once each month during the spring and summer. Apply a water-soluble fertilizer made for non-flowering plants and follow the dosage instructions on the package.
Cut the fern back in late winter or early spring to remove all the dead and old foliage.