Hemionitis arifolia (Heart Leaf Fern)

Heart Leaf Fern, Tongue Fern

Hemionitis arifolia

Hemionitis arifolia is truly one for the romantics. The shiny, deep green leaves of this fern grow in perfectly heart-shaped patterns, earning it the name of “Heart Leaf Fern.” The almost fuzzy black stems contrast the sweet, delicate hearts, helping it boldly stand out from the rest of the fern community.

This plant is known to thrive in terrarium settings due to its love of moisture and high humidity. Only growing to heights of 6-10 inches tall, the Hemionitis arifolia makes a wonderful centerpiece in any collection or terrarium.

At a Glance

Where to Buy Heart Fern

See the links below to purchase from reputable terrarium plant shops and marketplaces (may include affiliate links). 

Terrarium Plant Guide

Heart Leaf Fern Care & Growth

Lighting

The Hemionitis arifolia is an ephiphytic plant, meaning it attaches to, and grows from, other organisms – mostly trees. Because of this, it is most familiar with moderately bright, but indirect light. The Heart Leaf Fern is familiar with regular shade, so keep it away from direct light whenever possible.

Watering

As with most ferns, this plant is living its best life when kept evenly moist. Using a well-draining soil in conjunction with good water retentive properties offers balance to the Hemionitis arifolia life.

Substrate

Hemionitis arifolia plants are not picky when it comes to where they grow. Since they are familiar with being epiphytic, they will typically only grow poorly when planted in normal potting soil. If possible, use a loose potting medium with peat moss (or wood fiber/coco coir as a more sustainable alternative) to allow for airflow around the roots.

Temperature & Humidity

As a Southeast Asia native, Heart Leaf Ferns love warm, moderately high humidity environments. While they can withstand the occasional drops in temperature during the cold season, any temperature below 60° can shock the delicate plant.

Growth

In an ideal setting, Hemionitis arifolia grow into gorgeous smaller-sized plants. Because they are dwarf ferns, it does not flower; instead, they reproduce via spores at the beginning of their warm season.

Propagation

Though Heart Leaf Ferns spread primarily through their use of spores, division is the easiest way to propagate this plant. Once the fern is dense, you can uproot the entire plant and divide its root ball into smaller portions. Plant each division individually and let each settle on their own time!

Varieties & Similar Plants

While the shape of the Hemionitis arifolia is similar to the Anthurium andraeanum and Philodendron gloriosum, the Heart Leaf is a unique fern all its own. Many others of the fern variety also do well in terrarium settings.

Common Problems

Take special care not to allow any pests near the terrarium where you keep your Heart Leaf Fern. They are especially prone to a number of creatures, including scale, mealybugs, and aphids. The usual hot water and neem oil treatment is an organic option, but an infestation can still shock a Hemionitis arifolia greatly.