Adiantum microphyllum: The Dwarf Maidenhair Fern Made Easy

Prized for their delicate frilly leaves and flowing fronds, Maidenhair Ferns have become a popular houseplant across the world. Adiantum microphyllum takes this beautiful fern and shrinks it down to a convenient terrarium size.

The Dwarf Maidenhair Fern stays a compact plant as it matures, but forms a wonderfully dense cloud of graceful tiny leaves. Truly, a stunning addition to any terrarium.

Adiantum microphyllum (Dwarf Maidenhair Fern)

Where to Buy Adiantum microphyllum

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Where to Buy Adiantum microphyllum

Plant TypeFern
LightingBright indirect light
Temperature65-80°F (18-26°C)
WateringRegular, even moisture
HumidityHigh humidity (60-90%)
Growth5-12 inches


Adiantum microphyllum will do best with bright, indirect light. It can’t tolerate direct sunlight without scorching its delicate leaves, but still requires plenty of sunlight to really thrive.


Maidenhair Ferns are (somewhat unfairly) notorious for their demanding watering needs. It’s true that they quickly deteriorate if left in dry substrate for any amount of time, but this shouldn’t be a problem in a moist closed terrarium environment. Just keep the substrate evenly saturated at all times and it’ll do fine.


The Dwarf Maidenhair Fern requires constant, even moisture to grow. It’s important that the substrate have excellent water retention in order to consistently supply the plant.

Temperature & Humidity

Adiantum microphyllum comes from the tropics, and so needs a high temperature and humidity to thrive. It’s sensitive to both, so it’s best to maintain at least 60% relative humidity and 65°F to avoid fronds dying off.


Adiantum microphyllum grows dense fronds of the smallest and most delicate leaves. This petite fern generally won’t become larger than 12 inches, making it a great fit for terrariums of all sizes.


To propagate Adiantum microphyllum, it’s easiest to (very carefully) divide the fern into several rooted plants. Try to keep a few healthy fronds on each new plant to give them a fighting chance.

Varieties & Similar Plants

There are many types of Maidenhair Ferns, and Adiantum microphyllum is one of the few small enough be realistically suited for terrarium use. There’s a cultivar known as Adiantum microphyllum ‘Little Lady’ available from time to time, but it’s unclear how this is unique. Adiantum aleuticum ‘Subpumilum’ is another petite variety that goes by the name “Dwarf Maidenhair Fern”.

For another tiny fern, check out the Lemon Button Fern!

Common Problems

Most peoples’ issues with Maidenhair Ferns come from the fact that they don’t provide enough humidity – causing the soil to dry out too fast. These issues can both be solved through a closed terrarium system that traps moisture and humidity.