Rosy Maidenhair Fern Care Guide (With Tips)

The rosy maidenhair fern (Adiantum hispidulum) is a tropical fern with some unique coloring that distinguishes it from other types of ferns. When the fronds first emerge, they’re usually a light bronze or mild rose color, but they eventually become dark green as they age. 

A fern is an ideal houseplant because you can place it near a bright window and not really worry about whether it’s getting adequate sunlight. As a shade-loving plant, a rosy maidenhair fern opens all sorts of possibilities for indoor gardening.

Rosy Maidenhair Fern Care
Photo by David J. Stang, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s look at some of the particulars of the rosy maidenhair fern to help you decide whether this cheerful plant will find a comfortable life in your garden or home.

Rosy Maidenhair Quick Care Guide

Scientific NameAdiantum hispidulum
Common Name(s)Rosy maidenhair fern, rough maidenhair fern, five-fingered Jack
FamilyPteridaceae
Size2 feet tall and 3 feet wide
LightBright, indirect light, or mostly shade
SoilWell-draining soil
WaterWatering to keep the soil moist but not wet
TemperatureAs close to 70 degrees Fahrenheit as possible
HumidityMedium to high humidity
FertilizerOnce a month in the summer
PropagationDivision or via spores in the warm months
Pests and DiseasesMealybugs, aphids, and scales
ToxicityNon-toxic to dogs, cats, and humans

Your rosy maidenhair fern doesn’t like arid desert-like conditions. It can’t tolerate direct sunlight, so find a humid area of your home with bright, indirect light.

A hanging basket right outside the direct sunlight in a window is appropriate, but avoid low-light situations in dark corners.

Keep the fern moist at all times, but don’t over-water it and risk getting an infestation of bugs. Regular potting soil is the best way to keep the fern moist and keep you from constantly having to check whether the soil is moist or whether the plant needs some water.

Rosy maidenhair ferns don’t need any fertilizer, but they won’t die if you feed them.

Stick to the warmest months of the year for fertilizing the fern, and avoid fertilizing when the plant is dormant or not actively growing. Always try to use the weakest possible fertilizer.

All About the Rosy Maidenhair Fern

Most ferns range from light green to dark green, but the rosy maidenhair fern actually starts its life with rosy bronze leaves or fronds that eventually turn green as they grow.

Most types of maidenhair ferns grow wonderfully as houseplants, but it’s also possible to grow this fern outside if you live in a relatively mild climate.

The rosy maidenhair fern can grow anywhere from 12 to 18 inches tall, which makes an established fern an ideal size for your hanging basket.

The fern will benefit from a new pot every few years, but you should be fine with the plant outgrowing the space you have in your home.

If you want a beautifully lush plant in your home and are willing to pay attention to it regularly, the rosy maidenhair fern is a great choice. The plant is also non-toxic to dogs and cats, so you don’t need to worry about a curious pet taking a bite out of the plant.

Rosy Maidenhair Fern Care

Light

The optimal amount of light for the rosy maidenhair fern is a day full of bright indirect light.

The fern can survive up to an hour of sunlight a day, but only if the sunlight occurs in the morning or late afternoon. The best place for a rosy maidenhair fern is near bright sunlight but not inside it.

However, it’s important to remember that rosy maidenhair ferns aren’t true low-light ferns. The best way to figure out whether the room has enough light for the fern is to take note of when you turn on the interior lights.

The fern should do fine if the room remains bright enough for most of the day that you don’t need to use artificial lights.

Water

The rosy maidenhair fern likes water, but you don’t need to dunk it in a bathtub every week.

You may need to experiment a little with the watering schedule to figure out how often to water it to prevent the soil from drying out. Too much water can kill the plant, but so can a lack of enough water.

Consider employing a humidifier to amplify the effect of watering and misting.

In some dry areas, the fern may need watering every day or every other day. In humid areas and in places where the fern isn’t getting any drafts—like in the interior of a home—the fern may survive fine on just a once-a-week visit with the watering can.

Soil

The rosy maidenhair fern is an interesting plant as far as its soil is concerned because it likes dense, moist soil.

Don’t try to plant the fern in a pot with soil meant for succulents and cactuses. This will allow water to dissipate too quickly and make keeping the fern in a moist environment challenging.

Instead, choose a standard houseplant potting mix to help the plant remain moist between regular watering.

If you live in a very dry area and are concerned about the plant drying out, consider adding peat moss to the soil mixture, which can help the plant retain moisture.

Fertilizer

Like many ferns, you don’t need to fertilize the rosy maidenhair fern. If you decide to fertilize your fern, don’t bother in the fall and winter because the fern doesn’t actively grow during those seasons and won’t benefit from the fertilizer.

If you want to boost the growth of the fern in the spring and summer, you may feed it mild organic plant food once a month when the weather gets warm.

Always dilute the fertilizer if you give it a standard liquid fertilizer because ferns can get angry and brown when you overfertilize them.

Propagation

The most common methods of propagating rosy maidenhair ferns are through division or by using their spores to create new plants.

The best time to propagate is in the warm months when a newly divided plant is actively growing and likely to stabilize quickly after the division occurs.

You may see a few leaves die after you divide the plant, but there’s no need to worry, as a few brown leaves are natural.

If you use spores to propagate your fern, sprinkle them on some damp compost and keep the area covered and warm to help it retain moisture. Eventually, the spores will emerge as a green carpet.

Troubleshooting

Common Problems

Low humidity. One of the most common problems rosy maidenhair fern owners will face is a plant suffering from low humidity.

Ideally, the humidity level should remain at 50% or above. Misting the plant regularly can help prevent a dry climate from negatively impacting the plant.

Brown tips. Another problem that rosy maidenhair fern owners report is small brown spots on the fronds. Actually, this isn’t a problem and is just the reproductive spores of the plant.

However, if the tips of the leaves become brown, you’re probably dealing with a fern that’s getting too dry and needs a little extra attention.

Pests and Diseases

Rosy maidenhair ferns aren’t particularly vulnerable to insects and diseases. Still, they can attract aphids and mealy bugs or suffer from scale infestations.

Infestations are rare inside the home, but these infestations are treatable with insecticides or a spray bottle filled with dish soap and water. 

If you catch an aphid infestation early, you can often pull the bugs off the plant with your hands to clear the problem.

Another option is a strong blast of water, but don’t use water that’s so strong that it damages the tender fronds of the rosy maidenhair plant. Try an insecticidal soap if the infestation is getting out of hand.

Related: Why Is My Maidenhair Fern Dying?

Author: Stanislav Lem

Bio:

Stanislav Lem is the founder of Big Time Living, where he provides tips for gardening, traveling and lifestyle. Stan is an entrepreneur, journalist and traveler.
His mission is to provide information to help people become better planters, travel more and live a happy life. His blog has been featured on Huffpost, Yahoo and MSN.
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