Heart Ferns

Heart Fern
Heart Fern (Hemionitis arifolia)

This is the time of year that we are in full swing getting ready for Valentine’s Day and one of the usual side effects is that we start seeing hearts in all kinds of places. It’s kind of like when you get a new car and suddenly start seeing the same make and model all over town.

Many houseplants exhibit a heart-shaped leaf, such as the appropriately named Heart Leaf Philodendron and all the varieties of Pothos also have a similar appearance.

One of the lovely new plants that is also in this category is the Heart Fern (Hemionitis arifolia). It’s a delicate dwarf fern and also an epiphyte, meaning it grows upon trees as well.

This fern has dark green heart-shaped fronds, about 2-3 inches long and borne on black stems. The foliage is thick, leathery, and slightly waxy. It reaches a height of between 6-8 inches tall.

Because this fern is native to Southeast Asia in regions of warm temperatures and high humidity, the challenge for the gardener growing heart ferns as houseplants is in maintaining those conditions. Household temperatures should be fine as the fern likes temperatures between 60-85 degrees F with lower temps at night and high ones during the day. You can increase the humidity level by keeping a gravel filled drainage tray beneath the fern. This little fern also grows well in a terrarium.

The heart fern needs bright, indirect light. Keep it moist, but not wet. In general, ferns don’t need a lot of extra fertilizer, so only feed once a month with a water-soluble fertilizer diluted in half.

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