Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Southern Maidenhair Fern, Common Maidenhair Fern, Venus Hairfern, Venus's Hair
Adiantum capillus-veneris

Family: Pteridaceae
Genus: Adiantum (ad-ee-AN-tum) (Info)
Species: capillus-veneris (KAP-il-iss VEN-er-iss) (Info)

Synonym:Adiantum capillus
Synonym:Adiantum michelii
Synonym:Adiantum modestum
Synonym:Adiantum schaffneri

One vendor has this plant for sale.

26 members have or want this plant for trade.


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Partial to Full Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From spores

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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There are a total of 20 photos.
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14 positives
5 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Osmantha On Mar 24, 2015, Osmantha from Marietta, GA wrote:

I had 4 maidenhairs in the middle of a bright, north facing room, where they mostly died down over 2 years, despite keeping them moist and using mild fertilizer. When I moved these plants next to east-facing windows that receive 2-3 hours of direct sunlight, they grew into huge 2-3' specimens. I like to grow them in Target's large, clear plastic salad bowl so I can see how wet they are. I water them every 2-3 days with just enough water (about a cup per clump) to wet the roots, but not puddle in the bottom. I never let the soil dry out. Any time I've had a dead branch, the soil was too dry. It seems to be better to water more often with less water, and it's better to have some sheer curtains (but not as sheer as plain voile) on windows with more than one hour of direct sun. Otherwise, you will get some dried fronds. I plant mine in potting soil with 1/4 sand and rock dust, and I use an evergreen fertilizer at less than half the indoor rate. Winter seems to be a time for fronds to die down, but they are all replaced by new ones in short order. This might have something to do with heating vents and general dryness during winter, so I occasionally mist or spray them during winter, if the fronds start looking funny.

Positive yodecat On Nov 14, 2014, yodecat from Dallas, TX wrote:

Very easily grown with a few caveats. It does not tolerate excessive air dryness. It goes dormant in cold weather or dry conditions. It needs a generous helping of dolomite in the potting soil. The potting soil should drain freely. I fertilize it with a 20-20-20 formula that includes trace elements. It is fed every time it's watered with approximately 1/4 tsp/gal concentration.

I've a maidenhair that I collected from a seep on the Brazos river in Texas forty years ago. The patch was quite large. It was growing on limestone. In the winter the patch was deeply dormant and dormant during the dry season as well.

Positive kmm44 On Feb 26, 2014, kmm44 from Dayton, OH wrote:

30+ years ago I bought a maidenhair fern from a plant party in my neighborhood. The hostess was also in my bridge club. Months later, when it was my turn for bridge, my friend was amazed to see the fern thriving in the original pot hanging from a ceiling hook in my foyer. She told me they were hard to grow, (first I'd heard that, lol) and wondered what I did to keep it looking so nice. I confessed that I was surprised, too, because most of my houseplants died from lack of regular care. I had 5 small kids at the time and usually forgot to water. She said that my benign neglect was what was doing the trick. The plant was in a front hallway with northern exposure (minimal light) and the lack of regular watering was good for it. I guess I should have kept neglecting it because as soon as I started "taking care" of it--it died. LOL

Positive Jorgy57 On Mar 28, 2013, Jorgy57 from Navy Yard City, WA wrote:

I had planted three small pots of this fern to compliment some begonias in a large planter on my covered front porch. Little did I know that the ferns would out compete the begonias! I have enjoyed them for a year - but now I find that there are a great number of dead or nearly dead fronds. Is this an annual thing? Or should I discard them and start a new planting next May? Technically my area is too cold for them to winter over, but I believe the protected porch created a nice micro climate for them - at least up untill now.

Negative mavismr On Dec 18, 2011, mavismr from Missoula, MT wrote:

Alright...I know I live in Montana which I am sure is not condusive to ferns, but ....inside, it should grow...right? Can anyone give me info on the best way to keep one alive. I had it in a sunny south window with frosted glass, temp around 66, only watered when it was completely dry, but crispy leaves anyway. It was doing so well for a while until I let it dry out the last time. Help. these are my favorite. I had a Southern Maidenhair.

Positive BayAreaTropics On Sep 18, 2008, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

Ahh,That I could give this fern a double at home in the bay area that my largest Adiantum sp. I have is a Southern Maidenhair I never bought! It sprouted on it's own from spore in a 5 gallon pot of Cybidium Orchids a few short years ago.Now, it's mostly a fern pot with runners sprouting not only from the top but from every drain a very nice cascading fern well over 3' top to bottom and wide.
More wild Maidenhair ferns have sprouted on there own on lava rock bordering my fish pond in the shade. They never need watering and grow soiless by wicking up water through the sponge- like, rock .Interesting is that it always looks lush green,never needing fertilizer,while the pot grown fern does need a boost every now and then in summer.

Neutral dragonflydreams On Sep 10, 2007, dragonflydreams from Wilmington, NC (Zone 8b) wrote:

this plant is on NC USDA endangered plant list

Neutral Cretaceous On Apr 21, 2007, Cretaceous from El Sobrante, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Native to the southern-half of the United States (plus Hawaii and South Dakota), Canada (Alberta, British Columbia), the Azores, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland, Madagascar, Turkey, Ukraine, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, France, Spain, Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.

Considered an endangered species in the state of North Carolina.

Neutral frostweed On Nov 16, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Southern Maidenhair Fern, Adiantum capillus-veneris, is native to Texas and other States.

Positive Pashta On Jun 16, 2006, Pashta from Moncks Corner, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

I love these. I think I must have let mine dry out too much between waterings though, because it is starting to brown a bit, which makes me sad. They are lovely, delicate plants. I keep mine in somewhat low lighting. They are in front of a window that never gets full sun, and they seem to enjoy it there. I planted them in a large planter to give them room to grow.

Positive lobiwon On Sep 4, 2005, lobiwon from Vacaville, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is my favorite fern! I had purchased several of them in the past and tried to grow them in the house - without success. Two years ago a friend was thinning out their garden and gave me a large batch. This time I planted them in large containers and grow them outside in a bright shaded area. They are absolutely beautiful!

Neutral minphilic On Jul 5, 2005, minphilic from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I love this fern but it is not doing too well in my house. I recently found out that the maidenhair fern is one of the hardest of its kind to grow due to their delicate leaflets. I tried to make a humid microclimate by adding water to the saucer amongst some rocks (so not to waterlog the plant) and allowing it to evaporate, but it didn't work. Now, most of the fronds are crisp remnants of what they used to be. I'm hoping I can still revive it.

West of Austin, there is a place called Hamilton Pool that has Southern Maidenhair fern growing everywhere. It is a sight to see if you are ever in town.

Positive hashenk On May 5, 2005, hashenk from New Braunfels, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

My husband collected this plant growing under a ledge along the banks of the Blanco River. We brought it home and placed under the rocks of our loves the low light from being tucked in under the rocks and constant water its gets from the water fall.

Positive rplingaltx On Jan 15, 2005, rplingaltx from Galveston, TX wrote:

This beautiful fern grows under the front porch of my house. Every year in summer it retreats under the porch where it stays cool and moist and in the winter it sprouts up 2 to 3 feet out from the porch only to retreat again when the sun gets high in the sky in late spring. I have tried to get this fern established in other areas of my yard, but it doesnt take very well to being moved. I have even bought pots of it at nurseries but these are also slow to establish. It seems to do well wherever ajuga does well in my yard. Great old fashioned fern!

Positive Toxicodendron On Aug 31, 2004, Toxicodendron from Piedmont, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

This beautiful native fern is also found in Missouri, but it is usually much more limited in size and distribution than it is further south. I see it in crevices of limestone overhangs along the rivers here in southeastern Missouri, which is zone 6. I guess the water moderates the zone somewhat.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 30, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant is on the threatened/endangered list in KY and NC. It is a protected species.

Leaves arch and are closely spaced. It is also called Venus's-hair fern.

Positive petevllx On Jul 5, 2004, petevllx from Oakland, CA wrote:

i've been growing adiantums for years - by spores the last few. i find that they grow particularly well if grown in wooden containers that are 3" high and at least 12" square. if given daily water and high / open shade, they grow very quickly. they do not do well in closed, dark places. they seem to respond well to phosphorous/potassium fertilizer. when i grow them in sunnier locations, i plant them w/ their roots under a big rock - on the shady side.

Positive punaheledp On Jul 3, 2004, punaheledp from Kailua, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

My favorite fern (wherever it's native to)... at least this is the one that most resembles the one I discovered growing under my deck. It had been growing there a while and managed to survive long periods without water, possibly dying back and then sprouting when it rained?. I dug it up and put in pot and it's doing quite well on top of rather than under deck. gets a good amount of midday to late afternoon sun but is OK as long as it gets daily water. Used to see them sometimes when hiking in the valleys.

Positive Wingnut On Jun 16, 2004, Wingnut from Spicewood, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I LOVE this Texas native!!! I have tried to transplant one to a pot in my garden, but it didn't care much for it. I think I kept it too dry. I've also heard it called Black Stick Maidenhair.

Positive wannadanc On May 16, 2002, wannadanc from Olympia, WA wrote:

This is a wonderful addition to a shade garden, providing it is not allowed to dry out. It is a native plant in the Pacific Northwest, and is often found on rock faces where there is a trickle of water and seemingly little soil.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Bellflower, California
Gilroy, California
Hayward, California
Lakewood, California
Los Angeles, California
Sacramento, California
Santa Barbara, California (2 reports)
Stockton, California
Vacaville, California
Deltona, Florida
Loxahatchee, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Marietta, Georgia
Honomu, Hawaii
Kailua, Hawaii
Deerfield, Illinois
Independence, Louisiana
Lake Charles, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Piedmont, Missouri
Brevard, North Carolina
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Dayton, Ohio
Brookings, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Conway, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina
Austin, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Nacogdoches, Texas
New Braunfels, Texas
Spicewood, Texas
Newport News, Virginia
Vienna, Virginia
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Kalama, Washington
Olympia, Washington

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