Adiantum pedatum

Northern Maidenhair Fern

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Item #: 320

Zones: 3a to 8b

Dormancy: Winter

Height: 24" tall

Culture: Part Sun to Light Shade

Origin: Canada, United States

Pot Size: 3.5" pot (24 fl. oz/0.7 L)

Without a doubt, the widespread Adiantum pedatum (Canada south to Florida) is one of our most elegant North American native ferns. The horizontal horseshoe-like wreath of foliage rests atop 18-24" tall, wiry black stems. Northern maidenhair fern thrives in moist, rich soil, but also grows well in all but the driest of woodland garden sites. The light, airy, fine texture of the fronds serves as a perfect backdrop for hostas and other bold foliage plants. In early April, this deciduous native fern unfurls for a true Kodak moment. In 10 years, expect a 2' wide deer-resistant clump. In the 1900s, it was used medicinally to treat arthritis, asthma, nasal congestion, wound bleeding, and to cleanse and condition shiny hair...better plant several clumps.

Growing Conditions

Northern maidenhair fern prefers a cool, moist soil, but thrives in hot, humid climates as long as the soil doesn't stay dry for extended periods. This North American native often occurs naturally on calcium-rich soils, although they also perform well in woodland garden conditions on slightly acidic soils. They prefer light, open shade and do not thrive well in either part of full sun conditions.

Garden Maintenance

Because it's deciduous, it really doesn't require any garden maintenance since it dies back to the ground on its own in fall. There are not any significant pest issues for this and most other maidenhair ferns. If you continue to plant in your shade garden throughout the fall and winter, be sure to mark your clumps while they are in foliage to keep from losing track of them while they are dormant.


Adiantum pedatum is often confused with Adiantum aleuticum, which has a more Northerly distribution as well as being most prevalent in the US Pacific Northwest.