Potted plants: Adiantum, Capelvenere, Adiantum capillus-veneris, Adiantum caudatum, Adiantum cuneatum, Adiantum formosum, Adiantum macrophyllum, Adiantum pedatum, Adiantum polyphyllum, Adiantum rubellum, Adiantum venustum

Potted plants: Adiantum, Capelvenere, Adiantum capillus-veneris, Adiantum caudatum, Adiantum cuneatum, Adiantum formosum, Adiantum macrophyllum, Adiantum pedatum, Adiantum polyphyllum, Adiantum rubellum, Adiantum venustum

Classification, origin and description

Common name: Maidenhair fern (for A. capillus-veneris).
Genus: Adiantum.
Family: Adiantaceae or Polypodiaceae.

Etymology: the name of the genus comes from the Greek adiantos, which means dry, and which was already used by Theophrastus in Historia plantarum, probably due to the fact that the water slides on the leaves, without being absorbed.
Origin: temperate zones (Europe and North America) and tropical zones (Central America).

Genus description: includes about 200 rhizomatous ferns, which can be grown outdoors (the rustic species), in the greenhouse or in the apartment (the most delicate species). They have light and decorative foliage.

Maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) (photo website)

Species and varieties

Adiantum capillus-veneris: it is commonly called Capelvenere. The species originates from tropical and temperate areas; it is spontaneous throughout Europe (it grows in the cracks of the walls in damp and shady places). It has an almost erect habit and can reach 50 cm in height. The stems are dark and the fronds, very light, pinnate and with triangular segments of light green color, grow erect up to 40-50, after which they arch in an arch.

Adiantum caudatum: native to Eastern Europe and Asia, this delicate species does not reach heights greater than 15-20 cm. It has a hanging habit, which makes it suitable for growing in hanging baskets. The fronds are 30 cm long. The petioles of the small segments are brown. At the end of the fronds, small plants are formed, which can be used to obtain new specimens.

Adiantum cuneatum (also called A. raddianum): originally from Brazil, it has fronds up to 50 cm long, pinnate and consisting of cuneiform and lobed segments, fan-shaped. The petioles are purple-blackish in color. Suitable for growing in an apartment or in a cold greenhouse, three varieties are mentioned: "Fragrantissimum" very fragrant; “Fritz Luthii or Luth” which has fronds up to 50 cm long, thin and formed by numerous steel blue colored leaves; "Elegans", with compact fronds, first red-brown and then yellow-green.

Adiantum formosum: coming from Australia and New Zealand, this species is suitable for cold greenhouse cultivation. The fronds are quadripennate, triangular in shape and have purple-blackish petioles. It can reach 60-90 cm in height and 60 cm in diameter.

Adiantum macrophyllum: plant characterized by 30-40 cm long fronds. composed of numerous leaflets, with toothed margins, extremely fragile and reddish in color which then turns to green-yellow.

Adiantum pedatum: coming from Japan and North America, it is a deciduous species that reaches 20-25 cm in height and 30-40 cm in diameter. It has hanging, light green leaves that darken over time, carried by a dark petiole that originates directly from the rhizome.

Adiantum polyphyllum: it is perhaps the largest species, having leaves, with rigid and black petioles, which can reach the length of 1.2 m.

Adiantum rubellum (also called A. roseum): originally from Bolivia, it has fronds that are pink or red when young.

Adiantum venustum (also called A. microphyllum): originally from Kashmir, this rustic species of modest size (up to 15 cm. in height and 20 cm. in width) has triangular fronds with a convex top, consisting of many pinnules and carried by purple-blackish petioles. Particular is the coloring of the fronds: pink in spring, light green for adults, slightly blue in old age, brown at the first frosts.

Adiantum formosum (Berlin Botanical Garden) (photo website)

Environmental requirements, substrate, fertilizations and special precautions

Temperature: hot in summer; not less than 15-18 ° C in winter.
Light: it can also be moderate, but widespread and absolutely with the exclusion of direct sunlight.
Watering and environmental humidity: in spring-summer, water abundantly and keep the ambient humidity high (even with frequent spraying); in winter, reduce water doses to avoid rotting. Use lukewarm and not limestone water. If the earthen bread should dry out too much, immerse the jar in lukewarm water, until it is completely soaked. Take care to avoid water stagnation, so as not to damage the rhizomes.
Substrate: all Adiantum species need porous and very permeable soil such as a peat, leaf soil and sphagnum compound.
Special fertilizations and tricks: in spring-summer, administer liquid fertilizer every two weeks. It is good not to plant the rhizomes very deep and it will be better to use wider than deep pots. Remember to take special care of the drainage of the soil. The water should never stagnate and the pot should rest on a bowl with damp gravel in order to keep the environmental humidity high.


For division of rhizomes or by sowing spores. The latter method gives more vigorous specimens, but is decidedly complicated and not suitable for beginners. The mature spores are sown in warm bed in March, using terrines filled with moorland and peat in equal parts. The seedlings are then placed in small pots in groups of three specimens. Care must be taken to keep the soil always moist and well drained.
The division of the rhizomes is done in the spring, making sure that each piece contains at least 2-3 buds. The substrate used must contain soil, peat and sand in equal parts. The pots must be kept in the greenhouse in the shade, taking care to keep the soil always moist and drained and the temperature around 18-21 ° C.

Diseases, pests and adversities

- The roots of these plants can be attacked by the "piglets of earth”And from the root insects (these can cause discoloration and even the death of the plant).

- Miners of the leaves: attack the leaves causing the appearance of large black spots.

- Le leaves wilt: it can be caused by dry soil, lack of humidity or insufficient air exchange.

- Cold: the rhizomes and leaves rot more easily. Watering must be stopped and the soil slightly damp, but never too wet.

- Dry, pale and fragile leaves: these signs may depend on direct exposure to the sun from an insufficient supply of nutrients. Bring the plant to a shaded area and fertilize every two weeks (in spring-summer).

- Aleurotidi: can attack leaves. They are recognized because shaking the plant causes the appearance of a "white cloud" of small flying insects. They fight with specific products.

- Scale insects: may appear on the underside of the leaves. They are brown and should not be confused with spores. They are prevented by avoiding too hot and dry environments. They are fought with anti-coccide products or by rubbing the affected parts with a pad soaked in water and alcohol.

Video: How to Grow Maidenhair Fern Varieties as House Plants. Indoors