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Most are of tropical origin; some are western natives. All form spreading clumps over time. Stems are thin, wiry, and dark. Fronds are finely cut; leaflets are mostly fan shaped, bright green, thin textured. Plants need steady moisture and soil rich in organic matter. Protect from snails and slugs. Most maidenhair ferns die back to some extent in winter. Kinds listed as indoor or greenhouse plants may succeed in sheltered outdoor spots in mild-winter areas.

Adiantum aleuticum
Adiantum aleuticum

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Adiantum aleuticum

Native to western North America and eastern Asia. Fronds fork to make a fingerlike pattern atop slender stems reaching 1–2 1/2 ft. tall. General effect is airy and fresh. Excellent choice for containers or shaded beds.

Adiantum hispidulum

Indoor or greenhouse plant. To 1 ft. tall. Young fronds rosy brown, turning medium green as they mature. Resembles A. aleuticum.

Adiantum pedatum
Adiantum pedatum

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Adiantum pedatum

Native to the eastern United States, this is closely related to Adiantum aleuticum, with similar fronds and shiny black stems. This delicate-looking fern often grows out of rock in the mist of waterfalls. Fronds grow 12 to 24 in., cluster on clumping rhizomes. Very cold hardy.

Adiantum venustum

Chinese native to 8 in. high. Young fronds are bright bronzy pink, maturing to medium green. Spreads slowly to form a 3–5-ft. clump. Shear in late winter to encourage new growth.

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