By Mark Lyke
The elegant, lacy foliage on black stems of the Himalayan maidenhair fern, Adiantum venustum, are a delight to grow. Only about a foot high, it forms a low, slow creeping rhizomes groundcover that is not invasive in our gardens. Small frond unfurl in late winter with a warm bronze blush that makes this fern refreshing to see on these gray overcast days of winter. The soft green, triangular fan-shaped segments are numerous and make up each frond.
This plant has to be one of my favorite ferns of all time. It is easier to grow than the native maidenhair, and was selected as a Great Plant Picks. As a companion plant it will help showcase one of your favorite plants. I grew mine with my Himalayan blue poppies. During the winter you see a field of maidenhair ferns, as spring approaches the poppies push their way through the mat of green and show off their beautiful blue flowers.
The fern is native to China and the Himalayans and is hardy as an evergreen to around 10 degrees Fahrenheit. If the plant does get zapped by the cold and has dieback, just cut off all the dead fronds and wait for a new covering to appear in the spring. We have a very nice example of this groundcover maidenhair in the fern garden at Lakewold.
- Plant type: spreading fern
- Foliage type: evergreen
- Height: 6-12 inches
- Plant spread: roughly 3 feet
- Hardiness: USDA Zones 5-8
- Flower color: none
- Sun/light exposure: light to dappled shade
- Water requirements: moist but well-drained soil in part shade
Available at Lakewold’s Garden Shop, 12317 Gravelly Lake Drive SW, Lakewood, WA 98499. Winter open hours are currently Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 4pm.