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Plant Profile: Southern Maidenhair Fern aka Venus Hair Fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris)

Adiantum capillus-veneris1bA native of tropical and temperate regions in the United States, Central and South America, Eurasia, western Asia and Australasia this deciduous fern is widely grown in the garden and as a houseplant for its delicate foliage. The bi-pinnate and tri-pinnate fronds have bright green, fan-shaped pinnae and wiry black stems that arch gracefully downward. Sori (clusters of spore cases) appear in summer on the undermargins of the pinnae. The plant is clump forming and has a creeping rhizome. It may go dormant in summer if water is lacking. The genus name, Adiantum, comes from the Greek work meaning unwettable and refers to the fact that the fronds shed water. The specific epithet, capillus-veneris, means “hair of Venus” hence the alternative common name, Venus hair fern. This fern is a good choice for a shade garden and is especially attractive growing in moist crevices. The foliage is highly deer resistant.

Type: Deciduous fern

Bloom: Not applicable

Size: 8-18” H x 8-18” W

Light: Part shade to shade

Soil: Average, moist, well drained, neutral to alkaline

Hardiness: Zones 5-8

Care: Cut back stems after the first killing frost

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Division of rhizome; spores

Companion plants: Hosta, coral bells, lady’s mantel.

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