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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Maidenhair (Adiantum pedatum) Fern in Terrariums

I received a great question from Mariann:

Question: Is there a good way to collect maidenhair spores? would they grow, if dropped over moss in a terrarium?

Answer: I would have to say 'yes' and 'no' to this question. I have collected maidenhair spores by saving the fronds that have the dark colored spores on the underside. To test the viability I sprinkled them over damp dirt in a tray and put a lid on it and a few did grow. They are very delicate translucent little fiddleheads and a lot of fun to watch "sprout."

When the spores grew in the tray I did try dropping some into a bottle terrarium and one grew. However the baby adiantum pedatum are extremely fragile and dislike being moved. I eventually killed it by moving other stuff in the terrarium around the baby maidenhair and upsetting it too much.

If you are interested in growing adiantum pedatum in a small space there is one other option I have discovered that seems more reliable than sprouting the spores. You can cut a small section (maybe .5"x.5") of the matted roots and stems that make up the base of maidenhair clusters and plant this in the soil. These root clusters are extremely durable and will almost always sprout fronds given enough moisture.

Granted I have never had much luck keeping mature maidenhair ferns alive in my terrariums or in my room or in my yard. I see them in the wild in Santa Barbara all the time but I can't seem to keep them healthy for long. I think the adiantum pedatum ferns require more air movement than is provided in bottle terrariums.

Hope that helps!


  1. You are so right, they do need air movement. I have studied them for the last 3 years, when I had a maiden hair fern it did great on a humidity tray with a small fan circulating above it, then I tried it without the fan and it died later on, go figure! now I have to find another fern.

  2. I agree with Cathy. I love this ferm but it is tricky as to moisture and (for me anyway) light.

  3. i have tried to grow maidenhair ferns but was unsuccessful each time. I provided moisture, humidity, even air circulation, nothing worked!! I love this fern but it's just to hard to grow

  4. Succulents in terrariums her a new thing for me and my granddaughter and I are doing a very loud one and we went behind our home looking for Moss and phones in the words I found something called hair Mass which I think is the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen in my life is so delicate and so beautiful so we tried to retrieve some and ended up with a type of fungus that was pretty much under the skin and I had to be treated at the yard. Trying to re-get things out of the woods for a terrarium is that a bad idea . I saw that you were mentioning fungus and mold that can go into the plants or terrarium need a little help or a lot thanks

  5. I apologize for using the voice text but unfortunately I’m very under the weather. I just really want to continue doing this with my granddaughter because she told me that the day that we were in the woods looking for the fairyland terrarium items was the best day in her life. She has severe ADHD and has a hard time concentrating but that day in the words she had an absolute blast and didn’t Want to stop at all. She is really enjoying this and I’m enjoying her being outside. I think we need to have our children outside and off the computers and video games is much is possible thank you so much for your help and I do apologize for the very very poor text but I am computer phone anything technical illiterate. Thank you

    1. Thanks for your comments Tina. I'm so glad to hear you enjoy being outdoors with your granddaughter and making terrariums. They can be difficult once mold sets in. It might be best to try a new one!


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