Meet the houseplant: maidenhair fern

Adiantum raddianum ‘Fragrantissimum’

I say this with the complete awareness that’s it going to make me sound like a full on #crazyplantlady, but when I first saw a Maidenhair fern in the flesh (in the leaf?), I gasped out loud in wonder at its beauty.

The delicate light green leaves, that dance around the plant, appear to float in space, so delicate are its stems. On closer inspection, the fine thin stems are a jet black, arching gracefully upwards and away from the base.

This, indeed, is the queen of houseplants, but, boy is it a bitch to keep it happy.

The first one I owned, I placed in my spare bedroom. Big mistake. This plant needs to be checked on daily (twice daily in the summer), to make sure it’s damp enough, that the soil hasn’t dried out, that the leaves aren’t crisping up with lack of humidity… I left my first plant for three days on its own and it was fully dead by the time I looked at it again.

This plant in the photos, the second one I’ve had in my life, lives in my bedroom and, by contrast, is incredibly happy. I water it almost daily, I mist it about once a fortnight, and I check the healthiness of its leaves morning and night. Any signs of curling or crisping and I water straight away and move it a bit further from the window. It lives about a metre from a West-facing window, so has good indirect light for most of the day and some late evening sunshine. It’s an absolute beauty and is growing bigger by the day.


This plant needs more light than you would expect for a fern. It thrives in bright, indirect light. Its leaves will scorch, however, in too much direct sun.


Water frequently and don’t allow the soil to dry out. It also enjoys humidity, so mist it frequently, or place it on a gravel tray, ideally surrounded by other plants.

Perfect for:

High humidity places, such as a (not too dark) bathroom or the kitchen (but keep away from the kettle or the oven, it won’t enjoy suddenly getting extremely hot!) Also happy in less humid areas such as bedrooms (where mine lives) or sitting rooms, as long as you take care to mist it regularly and check up on its happiness.