Maidenhair fern

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 Adiantum subsp. var.  Maidenhair fern
Northern Maidenhair (Adiantum pedatum)
Habit: fern
Height: to
Width: to
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Lifespan: perennial
Exposure: shade
Water: moist
Features: foliage
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Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: to
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
Adiantaceae > Adiantum var. ,

Adiantum (pronounced /ˌædiˈæntəm/),[1] the maidenhair ferns, is a genus of about 200 species of ferns in the family Pteridaceae, though some researchers place it in its own family, Adiantaceae. The genus name comes from Greek, meaning "not wetting", referring to the fronds' ability to shed water without becoming wet.

They are distinctive in appearance, with dark, often black stipes and rachises, and bright green, often delicately-cut leaf tissue. The sori are borne submarginally, and are covered by reflexed flaps of leaf tissue which resemble indusia. Dimorphism between sterile and fertile fronds is generally subtle.

They generally prefer humus-rich, moist, well-drained sites, ranging from bottomland soils to vertical rock walls. Many species are especially known for growing on rock walls around waterfalls and water seepage areas.

Many species are grown in the horticultural trade, including all three of the species mentioned, as well as a number of tropical species, including A. raddianum and A. peruvianum. Both A. pedatum and A. aleuticum are hardy to zone 3, and are by far the most cold-hardy members of the genus. A. venustum is also cold-hardy to zone 5. A. capillus-veneris is hardy to zone 7.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Adiantum (Greek, unwetted). Polypodiaceae. Maidenhair Fern. A large, widely distributed genus of ferns, mainly of tropical countries, some of them popular greenhouse and conservatory plants.

The leaves have usually polished black or purplish stalks, the blades thin and delicate, simple or divided into usually fan-shaped segments, with the outer margins revolute, covering linear sori. Of the one hundred or more species, only one, A. pedatum, occurs, commonly in temperate North America. A few others are found in the southwestern states and in Florida. A. cuneatum is the most frequently cultivated of the exotic species.

The genus Adiantum furnishes some of the most useful and popular species of commercial ferns. They are easy of cult. They need a slightly shaded position, moderately moist atmosphere, and a temp, of 60—65° F. The soil should be composed of rich loam and leaf-mold in equal parts, and should be kept moderately moist. Some of the most useful ones for general purposes (given under their trade names) are: A. aemulum, grows about 12-15 in. high, and has very graceful dark green fronds; A. bellum, a dwarf, very compact species, 6-8 in.; A. cuneatum, A. cuneatum var. grandiceps, with long, heavily crested, drooping fronds; A. cuneatum var. variegatum making a neat specimen; A. concinnum, gracefully drooping dark green fronds 15 in. long, with overlapping pinna;; A. concinnum var. laetum, of upright growth, is 24 in. high; A. decorum very useful, 12-15. in., and has young fronds of a pleasing metallic tint; A. excisum var. multifidum; A. formosum; A. Fergusonii; A. fragrantissimum; A. pubescens; A. tenerum and var. roseum; A. Wiegandii; A. LeGrandii, very dwarf; A. mundulum, a very neat, dwarf species; A. rubellum, a dwarf species with mature fronds light green, young fronds of a deep ruby tint. The above may easily be grown from spores, if sown on a compost consisting of half each of finely screened clean soil and leaf-mold or peat, and placed in a moderately moist and shady place in the greenhouse in a temp, of 60° F. To be grown most economically, they should be transplanted in clumps of 3 or 4 plants as soon as the first pinnae have appeared, and, as soon as strong enough, potted off, either in clumps or singly. Some very desirable species to grow into large, tall specimens are: A. aethiopicum, A. Bausei, A. Collisii, A. Fergusonii, A. formosum, A. Lathomii, A. peruvianum, A. princeps, A. rhomboideum, A. Sanctae-Catharinae, A. trapeziforme, and A. Williamsii. The following are also recommended for special purposes: for fern-dishes, A. fulvum; for cutting, A. gracillimum. The following kinds are economically prop, by division, temp. 65° F.: A. Farleyense, the different varieties of A. Capillus-Veneris, A. rhodophyllum, A. assimile. Some kinds, as A. dolabriforme, A. caudatum and A. Edgeworthii, form small plants on the ends of fronds, which may be detached and potted separately, and if kept in a close atmosphere will in a short time grow into choice little plants. Temp. 65-70° F. (Nichol N. Bruckner.)

The following directions (mostly for commercial growing) are prepared for this entry by James C. Clark:

Adiantums, when grown in large quantities, are best propagated from spores sown in pots or pans, 6-inch being a good size, pots being preferred to pans as they maintain a more constant and equal moisture. The pots should be filled with two-thirds good drainage (coal- ashes or potsherds are very suitable), top-dressed with one-third sterilized loam mixed with one-tenth part of sharp sand finely sifted and evenly pressed down in the pot, so that the top of the soil will be about 1/4 inch below the rim. The pots should then be placed on a greenhouse bench, under shaded glass, and where a temperature of 65° to 70° can be maintained. Then water until they are thoroughly soaked (and to make sure that they are wet, water again; it is impossible to make too wet). Allow to drain for an hour or so and then dust the spores evenly, and as thinly as possible, over the surface and cover immediately with glass. The glass should remain on, and no water should be required or given, unless by dipping, until the spores have developed to the prothallus stage, when it will be advantageous to give a slight watering, using a very fine rose, and raise the glass 8 inches above the pots, supporting so that a free current of air can pass directly over the pots.

At this stage of their development adiantums, like all other fern prothalluses, must never be allowed to become dry. At the same time, great care must be exercised so that there will be sufficient air to prevent damping and yet no direct draft either from the heating pipes or ventilators to cause wilting or drying out of the pots.

As soon as the first real fronds appear (generally in eight to twelve weeks from time of sowing, according to season of year; eight weeks in spring and summer; twelve weeks in fall or winter), the seedlings should be transplanted in small clumps of three to five seedlings each, into flats or seed-pans, spaced about 1 inch apart, and placed in a close warmhouse, in a night temperature of 65° to 70°, until the seedlings show signs of taking root and making new fronds, when the temperature may be lowered to 60° at night and 65° to 70° in the day. This temperature will be found to suit all adiantums (except A. Farleyense), in all stages of their future development.

When the transplanted seedlings are about 1 inch high, they may be placed in small pots and repotted into larger ones as soon as they require it. In potting, a good compost consists of nine parts of loam and one part of well-rotted cow-manure, the pots being provided with good drainage, especially the larger sizes. In potting, the crown of the plant should be placed deep enough so that it will be covered with 1/4 to 3/4 inch of fresh soil, making the soil only moderately firm (never hard). Place the plants in a greenhouse, spaced so that there will be a free circulation of air all around the plants, the glass moderately shaded from March 15 to November 1, and all shade removed during the winter months, giving as much ventilation (without draft) as possjble. The soil should be kept mctderately moist at all times and a good atmospheric moisture maintained by wetting down the walks, but at no time should the foliage be wet more than possible. Well-drained, solid beds are better adapted to the growth of adiantums than tables, but, if grown on the latter, a 1/2-inch overhead heating-pipe over each table, say 18 inches above the foliage, will be found of great assistance in overcoming the condensation that is so destructive to the foliage when the plants are grown on tables.

Treatea as above, adiantums can be grown into 6-inch pot specimens in one year from time of sowing spores, and when grown rapidly are seldom troubled with insect pests, unless it be green-fly, which can be kept under control by a weekly application of nikoteen, using two ounces to five gallons of water, applied in as fine spray as possible.

Specimen adiantums, in 8-inch pots or larger, can be grown in the same-sized pots for several years, provided they are slightly rested during the winter months by being kept on the dry side and in a lower temperature, say 45° to 55°. In February the plants should be removed from the pots, the drainage examined, a little of the top-soil removed, and then top-dressed with old rotted cow-manure, and the plants returned to a growing temperature and given more water as required. Feed either with liquid manure or dust with pulverized animal manure every second week during the growing season. Some of the finest specimen adiantums in this country have been grown in the same-size pots for five to seven years.

Scale sometimes attacks old specimen adiantums, and there is only one remedy,—rest the plants by keeping to the dry side and in a cool temperature for about a month; then cut off all the fronds clear down to the crowns, and treat the same as old specimen plants.

For amateurs and small growers, all adiantums can be propagated by division of the crown and rhizomes. This is best done in January and February. Wash off all soil and cut the roots on as close to the crowns as possible. Then divide to single eyes. Place the eyes in sharp sand, merely covering them. Place in a situation such as advised for spores and cover with glass; when the first fronds appear, treat exactly the same as recommended for seedlings, when they will make plants about as quickly and equally as good as those grown from spores.CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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