En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - October 05, 2009

From: Bay Point, CA
Region: California
Topic: Ferns
Title: Fertilizer for Maidenhair Fern in Bay Point CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Is it possible to feed a Maidenhair Fern the same plant food as a African Violet? I use Schultz African Violet Plus.


Since our specialty is plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown, we don't know much about African violets, which are native to (of course) Africa.  Adiantum capillus-veneris (common maidenhair) is native to California and, in fact, is shown as growing in the vicinity of Contra Costa County by this USDA Plant Profile. Ordinarily, we don't consider it necessary to do much fertilizing of plants native to the area, because they are already accustomed to growing in the climate and soil. However, if you are growing them as container plants, they should probably have a yearly application of a 10-20-10 garden food; that is, 10% nitrogen, 20% phosphorus and 10% potassium. We did check on what was recommended for African violets, and they apparently prefer a 20-20-20 plant food, much more frequently applied. All you have to do is read the label of any commercial fertilizer preparation you pick up, and it will tell you what the proportions are. We doubt that the African violet fertilizer you are using now would hurt the maidenhair fern, but don't overdo it!


From the Image Gallery

Southern maidenhair fern
Adiantum capillus-veneris

Southern maidenhair fern
Adiantum capillus-veneris

Southern maidenhair fern
Adiantum capillus-veneris

More Ferns Questions

Suggestions for Texas native plants for memorial
June 30, 2005 - A dear friend of ours has passed and we would like some ideas of a native Texas plant we could plant in memory of her. It will be grown in the hill region near Houston. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Southern Woodferns in TX
May 06, 2010 - I have recently bought some 3 gallon southern woodferns, and have planted them in the shade in a low spot with clay soil. It seems to be a good location for the ferns, but a week or two after transpla...
view the full question and answer

Tropical-looking landscape in Austin, TX
March 24, 2005 - I'd like to have a tropical-looking landscape in my front yard. What plants would you recommend for Austin, Texas? I would prefer plants that can stay outside year-round, but will take suggestions on...
view the full question and answer

Container plants for cool weather in Cypress TX
October 02, 2011 - I am a novice gardener and I am looking for some ideas on potted plants for the fall/winter. They would be covered by a roof, but still susceptible to the elements. What can be planted now that will...
view the full question and answer

Flowers or plants for no-sun area in Nova Scotia
March 14, 2009 - What kind of flowers or plants can I plant in my rock garden that gets virtually no sun? I have wasted so much money on plants that were guaranteed to grow.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center