Content Detail

Maidenhair fern is a unique, airy fern with fan-shaped fronds growing around a horseshoe-shaped stem. Maidenhair ferns spread to form dense patches.

  • Family (English) Maidenhair fern
  • Family (botanic) Pteridiaceae
  • Tree or plant type Ground cover, Perennial
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Medium plant (12-24 inches)
  • Light exposure Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, clay soil
  • Season of interest mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer
  • Shape or form Creeping, Irregular
  • Growth rate Slow

Size and Method of spreading:

Growing 1 to 2 feet high and 1 to 1 1/2 feet wide, the maidenhair fern can be used as a clump-forming ground cover. Clump-forming ground covers are plants that are not usually thought of as ground covers. They are perennials that can be planted closely together to provide the visual effect of a ground cover.

Native geographic location and habitat:

C-Value: 10. This plant is native to the eastern half of the United States.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Leaves are a delicate fronds that emerge in spring. They are green, fan-shaped fronds on horseshoe-shaped rachis.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

This is a non-flowering plant.

Plant care:

Excellent plant for naturalizing and shade garden. It prefers moist, humus-rich soils in full to part shade. Plants tend to burn in full sun. Divide clumps when the patch gets too crowded.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

No serious insect or disease problems.


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