How to Grow and Care for Heart Fern (Hemionitis Arifolia)

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Heart fern, scientifically known as Hemionitis arifolia, is a striking and unique houseplant that can add an elegant touch to any indoor space. With its heart-shaped leaves and delicate texture, the heart fern has become increasingly popular among plant enthusiasts. However, this fern requires specific care to thrive and maintain its beauty. In this article, we will explore the detailed steps on how to grow and care for the heart fern, including the optimal conditions, watering techniques, light requirements, propagation methods, and common troubleshooting tips.

Optimal Growing Conditions for Heart Fern

To ensure the health and well-being of your heart fern, it is essential to provide it with the right growing conditions. Here are the key factors to consider:

1. Temperature

Heart ferns prefer a warm and temperate climate. Maintain a consistent temperature between 65°F and 75°F (18°C – 24°C) to keep your fern happy. Avoid placing it near cold drafts or areas with significant temperature fluctuations.

2. Humidity

Humidity is crucial for heart ferns, as they naturally grow in tropical regions. Aim to provide at least 50% humidity by misting the leaves regularly or using a humidifier. Placing the pot in a tray filled with water and pebbles can also help increase humidity levels.

3. Soil

The heart fern thrives in well-draining soil that retains moisture without becoming waterlogged. A mix of peat moss, perlite, and sphagnum moss is ideal for this plant. Ensure the soil is loose and airy to promote proper root development and prevent root rot.

4. Watering Techniques

Heart ferns prefer consistently moist soil, but overwatering can be detrimental. Water your fern when the top inch of soil feels slightly dry to the touch. Ensure thorough watering, allowing water to flow through the drainage holes, but avoid leaving the pot sitting in standing water as it can lead to root rot.

5. Light Requirements

While heart ferns thrive in bright, indirect light, they prefer to be shielded from direct sunlight. Place your fern near a north or east-facing window where it can receive gentle morning or evening sunlight. Avoid exposing it to harsh midday sun, as it can scorch the leaves.

6. Fertilizer

Feed your heart fern with a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month during the growing season (spring and summer). Dilute the fertilizer to half the recommended strength to prevent overfertilization, which can harm the fern. Refrain from fertilizing during the dormant period (fall and winter).

Propagation Methods for Heart Fern

If you want to expand your heart fern collection or rejuvenate an aging plant, propagation is an excellent option. Here are two common methods to propagate heart ferns:

1. Division

To divide a mature heart fern, gently remove it from its pot and separate the rootball into two or more sections. Ensure each section has healthy fronds and roots. Plant each division in a separate pot with suitable soil and provide the same care as mature plants.

2. Spores

Heart ferns produce spores on the undersides of their leaves. To propagate from spores, collect the spores when they turn brown. Sow the spores onto a moist mixture of peat moss and perlite. Cover the pot with a plastic bag and place it in a warm, well-lit area. In a few weeks, tiny heart fern plants will begin to emerge. Once they are a few inches tall, transplant them into individual pots.

Common Troubleshooting Tips

Even with the best care, heart ferns can encounter some problems. Here are a few common issues and their troubleshooting tips:

Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing leaves in heart ferns can indicate overwatering, too much direct sunlight, or inadequate humidity. Adjust your watering schedule, provide shade from direct sun, and ensure sufficient humidity to address this problem.

Brown Tips

Brown tips are often caused by low humidity levels or underwatering. Increase humidity by misting the leaves or using a humidifier, and check that you are watering your fern adequately.


Heart ferns can be susceptible to pests like mealybugs and scale insects. Inspect your fern regularly, particularly the undersides of the leaves, and treat any infestations with mild insecticidal soap or neem oil.


Growing and caring for heart ferns can be a rewarding experience for any plant lover. By providing the right growing conditions, including proper temperature, humidity, light, and watering techniques, you can ensure that your heart fern thrives and remains vibrant. Additionally, with the knowledge of propagation and troubleshooting tips, you will be well-equipped to expand your fern collection and tackle any issues that may arise. Enjoy the beauty and elegance that the heart fern brings to your indoor space.

FAQs about How to Grow Heart Fern (Hemionitis Arifolia)

Q: Can I grow a heart fern outdoors?

A: Heart ferns are predominantly indoor plants, but they can be grown outdoors in warm and humid climates. Ensure they are protected from direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuations.

Q: How often should I water my heart fern?

A: Water your heart fern when the top inch of soil feels slightly dry to the touch. This typically equates to watering every 7-10 days, but it may vary depending on the environment and season.

Q: Can heart ferns tolerate low light conditions?

A: While heart ferns prefer indirect bright light, they can tolerate lower light conditions. However, be cautious of placing them in dimly lit areas as it may lead to leggy growth and reduced foliage density.

Q: Are heart ferns toxic to pets?

A: Heart ferns are non-toxic to cats and dogs, making them a safe choice for pet owners. However, it’s still crucial to prevent pets from excessively nibbling on plants.

Q: How long does it take for a heart fern to propagate from spores?

A: Propagating heart ferns from spores can be a slow process. It can take several weeks for the spores to germinate and several months for the tiny plants to reach a few inches in height.

Remember, with proper care and attention to the specific needs of heart ferns, you can enjoy the beauty and elegance of these fascinating plants in your home. Happy heart fern gardening!


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