How To Care For Maidenhair Ferns: The Diva of Houseplants

How To Care For Maidenhair Ferns: The Diva of Houseplants

Awww the maidenhair fern, the designer’s delight of houseplants.  People rave of their beauty, their architectural impact, their lacy delicacy.

People also rage at their fickleness, their lack of motivation to live, and their weak compositions.  Let me just ease your minds, my friends.  The maidenhair fern is no weeping wallflower, she is not mousy, and she will not stand in the corner and rub her wispy fern extremities together.  She is a DI-VA.  D-I-V-A.  And she will be treated as such, darn it.  And if you don’t?  Even for a split second?  She will die – a slow, terrible, delicious death, and she will laugh the whole way down.  At you.  And your silly negligence.

So listen and listen close, as her diva demands and preferences are told to you.  Like your life depended on it.  And your maidenhair fern’s.




1.  She may not require her surroundings to be ALL WHITE like Jennifer Lopez does of her dressing rooms, but you had better not put baby in a dark corner.  Girl needs some light, but not direct light.  She prefers to be in a brightly lit room, one that is brightly lit most of the day.  A sunny window with a slight overhang or porch outside of it works best.



2.  If Katy Perry is around, do not even think about having a carnation present, and there had better be “at least two cream chairs, one with a footstool”.  Your little maidenhair fern?  All she asks is for water – clean, refreshing water.  Do not, and I repeat, do not, even think about letting your maidenhair fern get dry, not even for a few hours – or else.  Her soil needs to be damp at all times.



3.  Don’t worry, your maidenhair fern will not require a chauffeur for the dog or a designated assistant to handle beverages like Mariah Carey, but she will absolutely insist that you do not place her near a draft.  Do not position your fern near or underneath a vent, or close to a door that opens and shuts frequently, it messes with her circulation, duh!

getty images

getty images

4.  While Kanye West allows only Versace linens and towels to touch his delicate skin, your fern only desires to receive a gentle liquid fertilizer (nothing too strong) every couple of months.  Surely, that’s not too much to ask!




5.  The Material Girl requests a new toilet seat to be installed wherever she goes.  Your fern does not necessarily mind what kind of pot you place her soil in, but she does want the dead and brown leaves to be cut from its wisps.  She doesn’t want to see them, and let’s be honest, neither do you.


source unknown

source unknown

6.  While Lady Gaga asks for 28 bottles of chilled water, and 28 bottles of room temperature water in her dressing rooms, your fern asks that you not touch it every day very often ever.  The oil from your hands can clog its precious pores.  And if you make her break out?  Yup, you know what is happening.




7.  The Biebs diva requests are simple – keep his dressing room stocked with swedish fish, herbal tea, deli meats, veggies, Ritz Bits (BOTH KINDS PEOPLE – peanut butter and cheese), absolutely NO Selena Gomez music, and NO ONE should talk directly to him.  Your maiden hair fern does not require even one type of Ritz cracker, but does not want you to leave her.  Ever.  It is a well known fact in maidenhair owner circles, that you do not leave your fern.  If you must go out of town, you had better leave it in the hands of someone that will treat its delicate nature with precision and attention.  Consider yourself warned.

Absolutely necessary side note:  I am eons away from having a teenage daughter (or so it seems), but I, for the life of me, cannot figure out the maniacal fascination with Justin Beiber.  And it’s not like I never had a teen crush.  But let’s face it, he is no Uncle Jesse, Zack Morris, Jordan Knight, or Garrett Booth (bonus points if you know the last one – RIP Swans Crossing).  Not even close.  It’s a mystery to me.




8.  You do not have to supply red toilet paper, $900 Titanium straws with drinks, or alkaline water chilled to 21 degrees like Beyonce demands, but your fern does not like to be moved.  If you find a great spot for it using the guidelines I have laid out for you, your fern will NOT appreciate a change in scenery.  Maidenhair ferns loathe change.  Especially don’t ponder moving it because it will look pretty somewhere else.  That kind of thinking disgusts your maidenhair, and she will shrivel up faster than you can say Blue Ivy.

So now you know…you have the basic rules, and you are therefore responsible for the knowledge.  Don’t cry to your fern when it poops out on you, YOU KNOW THE RULES NOW.  I thought, however, I would give you a few extra tidbits of advice that work for me.

Prior to the ferns in my kitchen, I kept one of these babies alive a grand total of two weeks.  I have had my kitchen ferns for four months now.  Yes, I said four months.  And they are going strong.  I researched their care and gave into their diva demands, and here are my tried and true tips.

My ferns are in a bright window next to my kitchen sink.  That is a great window because it is light-filled most of the day, and my portecochere is on the other side of the window, so the light is bright but not direct.  Having the maidenhairs next to the kitchen sink is super convenient because I see them all the time, and it reminds me to take care of them.  (i.e. put your fern in a place it will be easy for you to take care of it)

The roots of a maidenhair fern are very sensitive, and if you are watering it with a pitcher or watering can, the soil can get compacted after time and will restrict oxygen supply to the roots.  My solution is that I put two handfuls of ice in each of my ferns every day.  Every day, folks.  It takes all of ten seconds.

If you see a few dead leaves, do not freak out.  Healthy, happy, satisfied maiden hair ferns still get wilted leaves every once in awhile.  Just snip them off.

Most importantly, never ever forget your maidenhair fern is THE diva of houseplants, and everyone will be happy.  And alive.

I’m out, snap.

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Written by Grace



  • Susan M.
    Posted at 09:10h, 02 July

    Crack me up but gotta say, there is no doubt that if I ever acquire one of these divas, it’s going to be easy to remember the do’s and don’ts! (Well, except for the Bieb tip – like you, I’d just as soon as forget him entirely!)

    What great fun this post was!

    • Grace
      Posted at 10:04h, 02 July

      Ha! It was fun to write! I am not much for pop culture, I must admit, so a good bit of research went into this. 🙂

      Thanks Susan!

  • Erin
    Posted at 09:15h, 02 July

    Love! I’m a low-maintenance girl with very little tolerance for divas of any variety (life is too short), but this was hilarious and your tips made me feel like maybe, actually, some day I might be able to focus on a houseplant of some variety long enough to keep it alive. And if that’s not empowerment then I don’t know what is. 🙂

    • Grace
      Posted at 10:05h, 02 July

      Erin, I hear ya! Whenever you are ready to take on some houseplants, I can’t recommend succulents enough if you want something low maintenance. I literally water them once or twice a month and have had them a little over two years!

  • Molly
    Posted at 09:37h, 02 July

    This was hilarious! So well written–and informative!!

    • Grace
      Posted at 10:06h, 02 July

      Thanks Molly! My brother just called me and said “he didn’t get it”, and I worried for a sec. 😉

  • Emily
    Posted at 10:50h, 02 July

    I totally got it!
    This was magazine worthy writing Grace…… clever and very informative!

    • Grace
      Posted at 11:06h, 02 July

      Thank you so much, Emily! I was channeling my college years Creative Writing courses while writing this. 🙂

  • susan nix
    Posted at 12:18h, 02 July

    YOU are so darned clever and yes, this needs to be in Martha’s magazine as a monthly edition. And you have 4 children…..amazing DIVA of Creativity. Claps, applause and kudos!!

    • Grace
      Posted at 13:55h, 02 July

      Susan, you are so kind! Thanks so much for the encouragement. G 🙂

  • Jennifer
    Posted at 15:20h, 02 July

    Such a cute and creative post, Grace! You’ve definitely convinced me I am not the type to own a maidenhair fern – way too much maintenance for me. But yours look beautiful!

    • Grace
      Posted at 23:09h, 02 July

      Thanks Jennifer! I bet you could do it. 😉

  • Nanette
    Posted at 21:21h, 02 July

    What a fun read…loved it! I totally agree about the Justin Bieber thing…and am wondering why someone would care about red toilet paper? Very cute…

  • Melissa
    Posted at 21:35h, 02 July

    How funny and educational– a very tough combination that you pulled off. Great post, now if I can just keep that darn fern alive…

    • Grace
      Posted at 23:14h, 02 July

      Thanks Melissa! Good luck! 🙂

  • Sarah Wolfe
    Posted at 22:31h, 02 July

    Such a funny post, Grace!!

    • Grace
      Posted at 23:14h, 02 July

      Ha! Thanks Sarah! xoxo, G

  • Julie S
    Posted at 11:20h, 05 July

    Ye gods! I must have gotten lucky with my first maidenhair fern which lasted at least 6 months… and then I moved (so did the fern, and it thumbed its nose and died). Then the two replacement ones to follow each lasted a month or two, then I switched to a hardier type of fern. But now I know 🙂