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The Care of Maiden Hair Ferns

By Kathryn Hatter ; Updated September 21, 2017
Care for maidenhair ferns to keep them healthy.
green fern image by yurik from Fotolia.com

Gardeners who live in USDA zones 9 through 11 can successfully grow maidenhair ferns outdoors in a shady flower garden. Other gardeners living in cooler regions must settle for growing maidenhair ferns indoors during the cold months and outdoors in a shady location when the weather is warm. Care for maidenhair ferns with diligent watering and fertilizing and they will thrive with healthy foliage.

Ensure maidenhair ferns have a soil rich in organic materials such as compost or peat moss. Strive for a balance of one part soil and one part compost or peat moss for best results.

Place maidenhair ferns in a growing location that receives partial shade for best results. Filtered morning sun is an ideal amount of sun for a maidenhair fern. Any sunshine a maidenhair fern receives should be filtered or indirect to avoid burning the fern.

Water the maidenhair fern when the soil dries slightly, and then water to saturate the soil evenly. Do not water so much that water creates puddles on the soil around the ferns. Decrease watering frequency and amounts in the autumn when the fern enters dormancy.

Fertilize maidenhair ferns once per month by mixing the fertilizer with water at one-quarter of the strength recommended on the fertilizer package. Pour the fertilizer carefully around the soil of the fern, without splashing fertilizer on the fern fronds. Stop fertilizing the fern in the autumn when the fern enters dormancy.

Prune away old fronds that turn brown at any time of the year to keep the maidenhair fern attractive.

Move maidenhair ferns growing in containers indoors if you live in regions below USDA zone 9. Allow the maidenhair fern to enter dormancy indoors in a cool environment (40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit), watering it approximately once per month during the winter.

Repot container-grown maidenhair ferns to a larger container when the fern roots grow out to the inside edges of the container. Repot a maidenhair fern while the fern is dormant. You may also notice roots growing out drainage holes of the container when the fern needs repotting. Select a container that is 2 to 4 inches larger, fill the container halfway with new potting soil, and move the fern from the old container to the new container. Fill potting soil in around the roots so the crown of the fern is just above the soil line.


Things You Will Need

  • Rich soil (enriched with compost or peat moss)
  • All-purpose fertilizer (water-soluble)
  • Pruning shears
  • Larger planting container

About the Author


Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.