Heart Fern Care: Tips On Growing Heart Ferns

Heart Fern Care: Tips On Growing Heart Ferns

I love ferns and we have our share of them in the Pacific Northwest. I’m not the only admirer of ferns and, in fact, many people collect them. One little beauty begging to be added to a fern collection is called the heart fern plant. Growing heart ferns as houseplants may take a little TLC, but is well worth the effort.

Information About the Heart Fern Plant

The scientific name for the heart leaf fern is Hemionitis arifolia and is commonly referred to by a number of names, including tongue fern. First identified in 1859, heart leaf ferns are native to Southeast Asia. It is a delicate dwarf fern, which is also an epiphyte, meaning it grows upon trees as well.

It makes not only an attractive specimen to add to the fern collection, but is being studied for purported beneficial effects in the treatment of diabetes. The jury is still out, but early Asian cultures utilized heart leaf to treat the disease.

This fern presents itself with dark green heart-shaped fronds, about 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm.) long and borne on black stems, and reaches a height of between 6-8 inches (15-20 cm.) tall. Leaves are dimorphic, meaning some are sterile and some are fertile. The sterile fronds are heart shaped upon a 2- to 4-inch (5-10 cm.) thick stalk, while the fertile fronds are shaped like an arrowhead on a thicker stalk. The fronds are not the stereotypical fern leaves. Heart fern’s foliage is thick, leathery, and slightly waxy. Like other ferns, it does not flower but reproduces from spores in the spring.

Heart Fern Care

Because this fern is native to regions of warm temperatures and high humidity, the challenge for the gardener growing heart ferns as houseplants is in maintaining those conditions: low light, high humidity and warm temperatures.

If you reside in an area with climactic outdoor conditions that mimic those above, then heart fern may do well in an area outdoors, but for the rest of us, this little fern should grow in a terrarium or a shaded place in an atrium or greenhouse. Keep the temperature between 60-85 degrees F. (15-29 C.) with lower temps at night and high ones during the day. Increase the humidity level by keeping a gravel filled drainage tray beneath the fern.

Heart fern care also tells us that this evergreen perennial needs well-draining soil that is fertile, moist and humus rich. A mix of clean aquarium charcoal, one part sand, two parts humus and two parts garden soil (with a bit of fir bark for both drainage and moisture) is recommended.

Ferns don’t need a lot of extra fertilizer, so only feed once a month with a water-soluble fertilizer diluted in half.

The heart fern houseplant needs bright, indirect sunlight.

Keep the plant moist, but not wet, as it is prone to rot. Ideally, you should use soft water or let hard tap water sit overnight to dissipate the harsh chemicals and then use the next day.

Heart fern is also prone to scale, mealybugs and aphids. It is best to remove these by hand rather than relying on a pesticide, though neem oil is an effective and organic option.

All in all, heart fern is a fairly low maintenance and thoroughly delightful addition to a fern collection or for anyone that wants a unique houseplant.


Fern Plant Care- How do you take Care of a Fern at Home and Garden?

Ferns or Vascular plants are grown as landscape plants for foliage and ornamental flower purposes. The stems are referred as rhizomes though they can grow undergrounds only. Green color photosynthetic part is often referred as frond that typically divided into 2 layers namely fertile and sterile leaves. Fertile leaves are much narrower than sterile leaves and have no green color tissue.

Ferns have been used in the removal of heavy metals like arsenic from the soil. Some fern varieties are used in cooking in North America and to treat several health problems all over the world.

It is easy to grow as a houseplant for gardeners that purifies air when planted indoors and as landscaping for its beautiful flowers and foliage. Here in this article, we share the information about how easily you can grow fern plants from spores and care for it without any effort.


Pteris Fern Care

The key to growing good Pteris is to provide enough humidity and bright, filtered light to keep the plant thriving. True to their tropical nature, they like a steady supply of water and warm temperatures, but will quickly show signs of stress in very dry environments.

The leaves of this fern can be somewhat brittle, so avoid placing them in areas where people or animals are likely to brush up against them. Although there are some deciduous varieties, the most commonly grown are evergreen and should not drop leaves during the winter.

Light

Pteris ferns prefer bright filtered light, similar to what they would receive in their natural tropical environment under the canopy of larger trees. Filtered light is especially important in the warmer summer months when the plant is actively growing. Avoid harsh direct rays, especially mid-day, which can singe or burn the leaves.

Luckily, pteris ferns are not picky about their soil mixture and can thrive well in basic potting soil. The mixture should be well-draining and easy to keep moist, but it should not get boggy or waterlogged. Generally, any peat-based mixture will allow the plant to thrive just fine.

Water

Pteris ferns are not overly demanding when it comes to water. While most ferns will almost immediately die if left to dry out, pteris ferns are a bit more tolerant of dry soil (though they are not drought-tolerant). For best results, aim to water your plant at a regular cadence, keeping the soil consistently moist. They don't like being waterlogged, either—plants that are allowed to sit in saturated or soggy soil will quickly succumb to root rot.

Temperature and Humidity

Keep your pteris fern in a warm environment in your home. An ideal temperature range is between 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, though the plant should never be allowed to dip below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, keep the plant away from any harsh drafts (either hot or cold), like those from an open window or radiator.

The most important factor in caring for a pteris fern is maintaining the proper humidity level. Pteris ferns have a high need for humidity and will need to be misted daily, along with providing an additional humidity source, like a small-space unit or keeping the plant on a tray filled with pebbles and a bit of water.

Fertilizer

Feed your pteris ferns once a mother from April to September, using a a weak liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength.


Hemionitis arifolia - Heart Fern

This delicate fern is beloved by houseplant collectors for its perfectly heart-shaped leaves. Deep green and shiny, the 2-4" leaves grow on short fuzzy stems. The dwarf growth habit of the Heart Fern makes it a perfect choice for small spaces. What's more, since the it loves water, this fern is ideal for containers with or without drainage, and can happily be planted in an enclosed terrarium.

Plant Care

Light: Medium to bright indirect light
Water: Water when the top 1" of soil feels barely moist
Considerations: Heart Ferns are great for terrariums, because they love to stay moist. Take care not to let the plant dry out!

What to Expect

You'll get a healthy Hemionitis arifolia that meets our rigorous quality standards in your choice of a 4" or 6" nursery pot – Case Study Planter sold separately. No two plants are alike, and yours will have its own unique shape, size and personality expect this natural variation from the photos.

Our plants include detailed care instructions as well as our Houseplant Best Practices guide, with information on how to repot, seasonal care and more!

We include shipping box warmers at no charge as needed. Got questions? Check out our FAQ!

Plant Care

Light: Medium to bright indirect light
Water: Water when the top 1" of soil feels barely moist
Considerations: Heart Ferns are great for terrariums, because they love to stay moist. Take care not to let the plant dry out!

What to Expect

You'll get a healthy Hemionitis arifolia that meets our rigorous quality standards in your choice of a 4" or 6" nursery pot – Case Study Planter sold separately. No two plants are alike, and yours will have its own unique shape, size and personality expect this natural variation from the photos.

Our plants include detailed care instructions as well as our Houseplant Best Practices guide, with information on how to repot, seasonal care and more!

We include shipping box warmers at no charge as needed. Got questions? Check out our FAQ!


A common problem with heart fern care

If the heart fern is not growing dense then you need to thin the plant. By removing some leaves, you can speed up its growth.

Mealybugs, Aphids, Scales are the common enemies of heart shaped fern plants. to get rid of them spray the neem oil on the plant’s leaves. You can also use rubbing alcohol and cotton cloth to wipe them. Baby wipes are also helpful to kill them and to remove them.


How to Care for Ferns

Last Updated: November 17, 2020 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Artemisia Nursery. Artemisia Nursery is a retail plant nursery in Northeast Los Angeles specializing in California native plants. Artemisia Nursery is a worker-owned small business with plans to become a worker-owned cooperative. In addition to California native plants, Artemisia Nursery offers a selection of succulents, heirloom veggie and herb starts, house plants, pottery, and gardening tools and supplies. Drawing on the knowledge of the founders, Artemisia Nursery also offers consultations, designs, and installations.

There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Taking care of a new plant is never easy, especially if you aren’t familiar with what they need or like the best. Ferns are beautiful, shrubby plants that thrive in warm, moist environments either inside or outside. There are tons of different species of ferns, but they all generally need the same thing: water, warmth, and shade. By putting your fern in the right spot and keeping an eye on it, you can grow your fern to its full potential and keep it around for years to come (seriously—some ferns can live to be 100 years old!).


It’s Getting Humid in Here: How I’m trying not to kill anymore ferns.

I have a confession to make. I have killed every fern I ever owned. I put them on a tray full of water and pebbles as suggested but they just go crunchy and give up. I actually had a Hemionitis arifolia (heart-shaped fern) which was doing so well until one morning I saw all the leaves curled in! It clearly needed more water than I was giving and I probably should have paid more attention.

For those of you who have been fortunate enough to not see a wilted heart-shaped fern, there is a picture of how the leaves look like below. I cut off the leaves but left the rest of the plant intact in hopes that new leaves will grow. Will keep you posted.

I am still determined to grow ferns. Since my home is on the dry side, I decided to up the humidity some more by housing my ferns in a terrarium-like environment. I found a mini indoor/outdoor greenhouse from Ikea and thought that would suit my purpose well.

It is packaged as individual frames and very easy to assemble. I assembled mine in minutes. The roof opens up two ways and can be kept open if desired. I like that it is high and big enough to put a few plants in there. I even squeezed a Chamaedora elegans (aka Parlor palm or Neanthe bella Palm) in there.

These plants can tolerate shade to bright indirect sunlight. Their soil should be kept moist but not soggy. Since these are high humidity-loving plants, placing them on a tray of pebbles and water will raise the humidity around the plants. As mentioned earlier, this did not seem to work for me so I’m hoping that putting them in this terrarium-like environment will do the trick. The Japanese fern and maidenhair in the decorative planters are also sitting on pebbles with a bit of water. The mini greenhouse is not air tight so while raising the humidity around the plants it will also hopefully keep mold growth at a minimum if not prevent it.

I love the red-tinged leaves on this fern. I’m not sure if this is really a Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum) but that is the closest I came to identifying it. If you have the right ID on this fern please let me know in the comment section below.

The maidenhair fern is my favourite, but a Diva of plants. It has such delicate fronds and I try to stay away from touching them too often as their pores can easily get clogged with oil from fingers. They crave attention and if you don’t give them the Diva treatment, they will make you regret it. Most of all, they do not like being moved. I’ve killed a few so I would know. Once they are situated, let them be. They do not forgive easily when you move them. So once you have just the right conditions, never, ever, ever, ever change anything. I hope this greenhouse will do the trick. The maidenhair fern tops as the most pickiest of my plants. I used to think my Maranta plant, Princess was picky but she has nothing on this maidenhair. Princess is actually very happy in her new hanging pot and needs very little attention from me these days. As long as I water her weekly and leave her alone. Now onto the mini Parlor palms. They will tolerate even low light than ferns from my experience. They grow where most plants would not. As long as you can see enough to read a book comfortably in a room, the parlor palm will grow there. I’ve used it successfully in terrariums in the past so I know it will do well in here too.


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