A common fern in rich, moist woods, Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum) ranges from Minnesota to Maine, south to Oklahoma, Louisiana and Georgia. It is one of our most beautiful native ferns, with a palmate leaf pattern and very architectural look to the whole plant.
Maidenhair Fern emerges in April, and the leaves remain clean and bright throughout the growing season until they go dormant in the Fall. Plants will grow 18 to 24 inches tall, with each frond measuring about 6 to 12 inches across depending on light exposure. The fronds are nearly parallel to the ground, which gives an interesting "canopy" effect to a mature planting.
Maidenhair fern is highly useful in a woodland garden setting, although its form lends itself well to more formal shade gardens. Because it persists through the summer, it makes a good filler plant over top Spring Ephemerals that go dormant.
Maidenhair fern doesn't provide much in the way of food for butterfly larvae, but it does offer shelter for smaller insects and ground-foraging woodland birds. The plant is very bitter-tasting, which makes it resistant to deer and rabbit browse.
Maidenhair fern is very easy to grow - It is one of the few woodland wildflowers that like a limestone-rich site, and there are some excellent colonies overtop limestone and sandstone bedrock at McCormick's Creek and Shades State Parks here in Indiana.
Maidenhair fern does best in an area with mature trees, especially where the lower limbs have been removed to allow more light into the understory. Morning sun is fine as well, but direct sun during the hot afternoon hours will cause this plant to languish. Space 10 inches apart for a solid mass, and 24 inches apart to show off individual clumps.
We currently grow Maidenhair Fern in our 1-Quart SuperPlug fabric containers; these are well-rooted plants that will establish quickly after planting. To plant, simply cut a slit down one side of the pot and peel back the fabric.
|Common Name:||Maidenhair Fern|
|Botanical Name:||Adiantum pedatum|