Maidenhair fern is a dainty, deciduous fern that is ideal for shady, moist garden areas with high organic matter. It unfurls its delicately-fanned fronds from striking black stems in April and fades back during dry summer months. You’ll often find this gem in rocky crevices near flowing water or in the spray of a waterfall in natural areas like Forest Park and the Columbia Gorge. This stunning plant spreads slowly by rhizome, eventually forming a groundcover, and is also a reliable choice for areas with a deer problem.
- Plant type/canopy layer: deciduous, perennial, fern
- Size at maturity: 12"-18" tall, 12"-18" wide
- Light requirements: full shade, part sun/part shade
- Moisture requirements: moist to wet soil, well-drained
- Growth rate/ease: medium growth rate, moderately difficult to grow
- Native habitat/range: grows in wet/riparian, usually shaded sites, often rocky up to 2300m. Abundant in and west of the Cascades throughout the Pacific Northwest, but is largely absent from the more arid parts. Also found throughout similar habitat types in Idaho and Nevada. Portland Plant List - yes.
- Special & features uses: deer resistant; landscape uses include woodland and raingardens/bioswales
Gardening with Maidenhair Fern: Maidenhair fern is a beautiful addition to a shady woodland or water garden. Although it thrives in habitats with constant mist, it can be surprisingly drought tolerant - protecting itself by going dormant once the soil dries out. However, it has a strong preference for well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter and forest duff, rather than clay soils. Grow in your Portland woodland garden in shady, moist to wet (but well-drained) areas, possibly next to a mossy rock or log to keep roots protected and cool with companion plants like Oregon oxalis, inside-out flower, sword fern and pacific waterleaf.
Photo Credit 1: "Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)" by aarongunnar is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo Credits 2 & 5: Nikkie West, Sparrowhawk Native Plants
Photo Credit 3: "Adiantum pedatum" by Ashley Basil is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Photo Credit 4: "Northern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)" by wackybadger is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0