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Plants We Love: Maidenhair Ferns

The delicate, ruffled fronds of maidenhair ferns (Adiantum species) belie their rugged nature. They’re easy to grow and they keep the shade garden looking lively all summer. Choose from three native species to find the best for your garden.
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Plant name: Northern, western and southern maidenhair ferns (Pictured right, southern maidenhair.)

Southern Maidenhair Fern

Botanical name: Adiantum pedatum (northern), A. aleuticum (western), A. capillus-veneris (southern)

Virtues: These low-maintenance foliage plants add delicate texture and lush light green color to the shade garden all summer long.

Foliage: Fan-shaped fronds are made up of small triangular pinnules (leaflets). Fronds branch from dark thin stalks.

Size: 1 to 2.5 feet tall and wide.

Season: Spring and summer.

Origin: Northern maidenhair: eastern North America. Western maidenhair: Alaska's Aleutian islands south to Mexico. Southern maidenhair: temperate and tropical regions worldwide, including the southern U.S.

Plant in part to full shade. Space plants to permit good air circulation, particularly in very humid areas. Maidenhair ferns like moist soil. Fronds will die if the plants dry out. Southern maidenhair is often grown as a houseplant. Hardiness: northern and western maidenhair, Zones 3–8; southern maidenhair, Zones 5–8.

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Above: Northern maidenhair

Left: Western maidenhair

Western Maidenhair Fern

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Images courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder