Apartment plants


The maidenhair

The maidenhair fern is suitable for both outdoor and pot cultivation, as an indoor plant. It is very appreciated for the beauty of the foliage which combines a lively color with a light and fluffy appearance. It certainly must not be lacking in our garden to give elegance to the shaded and wet corners, given that the varieties offered on the market, with some care, are now adapted to every type of climate.
The Latin name is и Adiantum capillus-veneris, and it was attributed to it because the delicate foliage remembers the hair of a goddess, in ancient times there were myths related to this plant, which in µEuropa is also widespread as a wild plant; it is an evergreen fern, with a small rhizomatous root system.
The maidenhair It is widespread in nature in most of the world's temperature zones, in Europe, Asia, Africa and America, northern and central; it is a fern with characteristic features, the leaves are composed of small leaves with a particular shape, very thin and delicate, with a jagged margin, attached to each other by thin filaments with a particular black color, which stands out very much from the bright green foliage.
The small plants do not exceed 25-35 cm in height, and in nature tend to become with falling age; they are typical ferns of the undergrowth, which develop especially in the areas characterized by streams, streams and small rivers, or by the proximity to caves or other particularly shaded areas.
In Italy it is mainly used as a houseplant, while garden cultivation is almost never practiced.

Cultivate maidenhair

The cultivation of this fern is not easy outside of its natural environment unless it is able to reproduce it perfectly. The greatest difficulty consists in providing it with a high and constant environmental humidity as well as suitable exposure and soil. People who have shady ponds, wells or streams can enter it in the garden with tranquility. Elsewhere it will be necessary to be diligent with watering and above all vaporization.
As we all know, most ferns, they are plants that love semi-shaded, humid and cool areas; and Adiantum capillus is no different from most ferns. It is planted in containers of small dimensions, as the root system is quite small, if compared to the size of the entire plant; prefers semi-shaded positions, but we avoid the dark and gloomy shadow, and we prefer fairly bright places.
The right brightness is indicated to us by the coloring of the leaves, which become almost yellowish when the light is excessive, and they darken a lot when the light is definitely low.


Family, genus, species

Pteridaceae, Adiantum capillus-veneris
Type of plant Fern, plant with decorative foliage from outside or inside
Foliage Persistent or semi-persistent
Foliage color Light green, dark green, pink, glaucous; dark petioles
Height From 20 to 40 cm depending on the species
Width Up to 40 cm
Maintenance Moderately demanding
Rusticitа Rustica (the species); semirustics (apartment variety)
Ground Fresh, calcareous, well-drained
irrigations Frequent in spring-summer; no stagnation
Environmental humidity high
Exposure Half shade and shadow
Use Ground cover and decorative foliage (wet and shady areas); jar
pairing Hosta, heuchera, alchemilla, brunnera, lamium, astilbe, luzula

In nature they develop in cool and damp places; in the apartment they live in a constant spring, often characterized by an excessively dry climate; to keep the ambient humidity high, we position the vases in a large vase cover, half filled with expanded clay, on which we can leave the vase on the surface; about half the depth of the clay must be constantly immersed in water, so that through evaporation it goes to increase the humidity around the plant; frequent sprays further improve the climate. They are fairly resistant plants, which often survive even in not entirely favorable conditions, but certainly a good environmental humidity and the correct watering lead to more healthy and luxuriant specimens. Maidenhair watering very regularly, throughout the year, trying to keep the soil slightly damp and fresh: as soon as the substrate tends to dry, it is good to water again, with small amounts of water. Every 15-20 days we add water to the fertilizer for green plants, to slightly increase the presence of mineral salts in the soil.
We also remember to avoid placing the plant in a place where it is very close to direct sources of heat, such as radiators or fireplaces, and also near fans or air conditioners, which excessively dry the air. These plants can also be grown in the garden, in a humid and cool area, with a few hours of direct sunlight every day, but not in the hottest hours of the year; in the case of particularly cold or dry seasons, maidenhair tend to reduce or completely lose the aerial part: they will start to develop again as soon as the climate returns favorable. In Italy it is very easy to find specimens of Adiantum capillus grown in the nursery to be kept in apartments; even if it is a plant resistant to cold, the fact of having been preserved for months in a tempered greenhouse, makes it quite difficult to re-educate this plant to life in the open air. So if we want a maidenhair fowl to grow in the garden, we avoid buying it in the fall, rather we choose a beautiful healthy and lush in the spring, and place it outdoors as soon as the nocturnal lows are quite high; in this way the winter cold will come very gradually, allowing the plant to get used to it.
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Origins of the Capelvenere

The maidenhair fern is widespread in nature almost everywhere in the world, especially in areas characterized by a warm-temperate climate. It grows mostly on rocky soils or along the course of the rivers, but always in the presence of calcareous soils, with basic pH and weak and suffused light. The species is not perfectly rustic and in Italy it may fear frost especially in mountain areas; however, there are more resistant varieties that can be easily inserted in any garden.

Propagate a maidenhair

Like all ferns, maidenhair ferns are very ancient plants, which do not produce flowers, fruits and seeds, but propagate through the spores: they are essentially single cells of the plant, which, once released on the ground, are able to develop a new copy; in substance they behave like seeds, but they are difficult to handle, as the dimensions are tiny. Therefore the "seeding" of a fern is certainly not an activity for beginners.
For those who in any case wish to propagate their maidenhair specimen, the method by division of the rhizome is usually used: in autumn the roots of the plant are unearthed, and cut into portions, with the aid of a well sharpened knife. well cleaned. These portions must consist of a part of the original rhizome and a part of the bread of roots produced by it; these new plants are immediately buried in containers that are not too large, filled with a good fresh soil, built with universal soil, little sand and a few pieces of shredded bark.
Maidenhair rhizome portions usually root with good ease, and this type of propagation is therefore quite simple; moreover the division is often useful for very old plants, cultivated in pots for many years, which come as rejuvenated by this type of treatment.

The ferns, these unknown

Ferns belong to a particular group of plants, among the oldest in the world, their particular conformation makes them easily distinguishable from any other plant; generally they all develop starting from an underground rhizome, with a root system often not very conspicuous; the leaves emerge directly from this rhizome, without any stem. The leaves of the ferns are called fronds, as a petiole cannot be distinguished, but they develop directly from the rhizome; in the case of maidenhair, what is sometimes called stem or branch is essentially constituted by the veins of a single frond, black in color.
Some ferns of tropical origin have veins of the fronds so thick and large, to constitute, placed near, a sort of broad trunk, which makes these ferns (called tree ferns) of plants similar to palms.
Ferns they do not produce flowers or fruits, but propagate by means of spores, these cells are gathered in small groups under the leaves, it is a sort of pitting with a dry and lifeless aspect: these formations are called sporangia.

Classification and description Maidenhair

The maidenhair (scientific name Adiantum capillus-veneris) is a medium-sized fern (30-40 cm tall); belonging to the Pteridaceae family. It expands mainly thanks to its rhizomatous roots from which the beautiful bipinnate fronds emerge, extremely graceful and delicate in appearance. They are mostly triangular, up to 70 cm long, arched and divided 2 or 3 times in opposite pairs of pale green leaflets. Depending on the climate they will be persistent or semi-persistent; just ticked they are rolled up on themselves and then open and expand quickly. The whole is made even more pleasant by the very dark coloring of the petioles. The spores are placed under the outer edge of the leaf segment and form between early summer and mid-autumn.

Land for the Maidenhair

The maidenhair grows well in soils that can stay fresh, but always with good drainage. In the garden they are well grown in garden soil, perhaps made a little lighter by mixing fine, coarse gravel and some mature compost. Ideal are the gorges between the stones of dry walls (in the shade) or natural cracks (where generally they will arrive then spontaneously).

Climate for Maidenhair

The type species grows well throughout Italy, up to about 1400 meters above sea level. If sheltered from cold winds and excessive winter humidity it easily tolerates temperatures even around -10 ° C.
The heat can be a problem, especially if the exposure is not optimal and the humidity is too low: the plant could react losing a good part of the leaves.

Maidenhair exhibition

The maidenhair wants a light and very diffused light; It is very suitable for all shady or even dark areas of the garden, especially if it is wet. Absolutely avoid direct light, especially in the afternoon and from mid-spring onwards.
Excellent placement under deciduous trees or near hedges.
Home-grown potted plants grow well next to east-facing windows, that is, well lit only in the morning. In any case, the sun must never touch the foliage and in summer it is highly recommended to use light colored curtains.

Irrigation and Watering Capelvenere

These plants need always fresh soil during the vegetative period, but they are afraid of stagnation. In spring and summer it is important to prevent the area from drying completely: a great method consists in testing the humidity at a depth of about 2 cm by inserting a finger into it.
To avoid having to intervene too often it is advisable to prepare a thick mulch with leaves. On the arrival of autumn and during the winter it is instead important to suspend almost totally: the precipitations will be more than sufficient to keep the plant alive. Further contributions would only increase the risk of radical rot. In the home we follow the same rules, inducing a slight vegetative rest already from the beginning of October.

Environmental humidity

Environmental humidity is more important than irrigation. In all seasons these ferns need a very fresh environment. An excellent method to create the right habitat is to vaporize the branches often with demineralized or rainwater (to avoid the accumulation of calcium on the foliage).
Combining a large number of plants with similar needs (for example of the hosta, alchemille, heuchere, astilbe) will be of enormous help, as well as creating an aesthetically appreciable environment. At home, in addition to steaming, we can use electric humidifiers and place containers full of wet expanded clay near the vessel.

Repot the Maidenhair

They are quite vigorous plants, especially if kept in a suitable environment: repotting can therefore be necessary every year or at most every other year, at the end of winter. On the bottom of the container we create a thick draining layer with gravel or expanded clay. The ideal substrate is obtained by mixing 40% of garden soil with 40% of soil for green plants (not too peaty) and 20% of fine gravel.

Maidenhair fertilization

It is a greedy plant for nourishment; both in the ground and in pots, it is advisable to administer fortnightly a liquid product with a good nitrogen content. In the garden you can alternatively opt for a slow release granular product. When autumn arrives we can gradually suspend.

Crop care

Apart from the frequent watering and humidification, they are quite autonomous. It is important at the end of the winter to devote to cleaning the head eliminating the old, dry or somehow damaged fronts.

Maidenhair division

The maidenhair can be propagated by division (absolutely the simplest method) or by "seeding" the spores.
The division is carried out in spring: the head is extracted and the delicate roots are divided by hand so that each one is endowed with a bud.
Spore propagation is very difficult to implement, but, in a suitable environment, it is possible that it happens spontaneously (we can then move the seedlings where we like).
The spores begin to mature in the summer, but will not be ready until the following spring. At that time we will have to cut a frond and shake it on a sheet of paper. Let's then disperse them on a vase with soil kept always humid, in a partially shaded area. The first seedlings will sprout after about 3 months and can be placed in individual jars in autumn.
Maidenhair has been used since ancient times for medicinal and food purposes. In the north of our peninsula its leaves were used to produce an infusion similar to thì, useful also in case of affections of the respiratory system.

Species and varieties of Capelvenere

The genus Adianthum includes more than 200 different species; commercially they are widespread for many more hybrids and cultivars, some sold as houseplants (being similar to maidenhair, but more adaptable).
Here are some of the most common and valuable ones:
Adiantum caudatum
Fern suitable for gardens throughout the Center-South. It grows vigorously and spreads easily thanks to its ability to release offshoots and new seedlings on the apex of the leaves. It has beautiful elongated fronds and is excellent as a ground cover for wet and shady areas. Beautiful also as hanging for baskets.
Adianthum hispidulum
Beautiful species characterized by erect habit and initially bronze leaves, then dark green. Easily tolerates light frosts.
Adiantum venustum
It has beautiful arched and wide fronds, but very enlarged: the maximum height is about 20 cm. As soon as they are light they are a beautiful pink and then become light green, glaucous and finally brown. It is one of the most resistant to frost as it easily supports -15 ° C. It comes from the Kasmir heights.
Adiantum pedatum
Pretty rustic plant, suitable for almost all the Italian territory. Originally from Japan and the United States, it has an enlarged habit, almost ground cover. The fronds are initially light green and create a nice contrast with the almost black petioles.
Adiantum cuneatum (or raddianum)
Species suitable for cultivation in apartment or cold greenhouse. It is native to Brazil and has fronds that are even more than half a meter long, fan-shaped, extremely vaporous… Available in many cultivars, among which we mention “fragrantissimum” with an intense perfume, “gracillimum” with an erect habit and finely carved and elongated leaf segments , "Elegans" with compact fronds, first brunettes then acid green; "Luth" with very long glaucous fronds,



March April
Division February March
repotting January February
Frequent irrigation (vegetative period) April to November
Composting Every 15 days; from April to November
Irrigation reduction November to March
Frond cleaning March
Sowing spores April