This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In attempting to describe some of the most showy of this large class of plants, I think the genus Adiantum, can with every right be placed at the head, being the most beautiful one; and surely there is not a place where ferns are grown, in which the Adiantum would not be represented with a few species. They are also more popular than any other fern; for every one knows the Maiden Hair fern, yet, sorry to say, there are even a good many gardeners who do not know the real plant this name was applied to. The Adiantum Capillus veneris is the true Maiden Hair, but unfortunately it was soon lost to sight when the more showy species were introduced from tropical countries, and it is now only in Botanic Gardens and collections of hardy plants that we meet with this modest plant. Adiantums inhabit most parts of the globe, but we are chiefly indebted to South and Central America for the most beautiful kinds. All of them grow in compact tufts, from subterrane short rhizomes, on which account a limited number can be propagated by dividing the plant. Their culture is by no means difficult; they are grown best in ordinary pots, with good drainage in a compost of two parts good turfy loam, two parts leaf-mould, one part peat and one part of sand.
The dreaded enemy is the small snail, which prefers their tender growths before any others, and they should be kept clean from this pest.
The number of species and varieties of Adiantum is much over a hundred, all worth growing for collection, but the following are among the best and most useful kinds:
An unrivaled species from Brazil, for decoration and especially for cutting, in which state it keeps fresh longer than any other. The fronds are of medium size, slightly arched, the pinnules small, cuneate. It flourishes in the intermediate house, and plants that are intended to cut from, should be grown cooler, more airy, with scarcely any shade.
A splendid variety of the former. The fronds are more divided and the pinnules much smaller, which gives it such a fine appearance to what justify the name. It is a mistake to grow it in too much heat; it should be grown in the same manner as Adiantum cuneatum, and only in this case you see fine compact specimens. It is of garden origin, and a good plant for exhibition.
A good species from Jamaica, which is going out of cultivation after giving rise to.
This is certainly the most beautiful of Adiantums, if not of all ferns. The fronds are large, arched, severally divided, pinnules also large, rhomboid, of light green color. It is a pleasure to see at the flower shows plants five feet through. This plant requires stove temperature and to be well guarded against drip. The propagation is only effected by dividing, as I do not remember having seen any fertile fronds.
A large growing species from Peru, attaining as much as four feet in height. The fronds are large decompound, pinnules alternate, large on long petioles. A stove species.
Dwarf species from Chili, fronds of medium size, pinnules small, dark green. It is easily grown in the intermediate house.
A garden variety of the former, differing in having the fronds larger and severally divided; grows well in the same temperature as its parent.
Another grand plant from South America; grows over two feet high, the fronds are large, pedately divided, pinnules trape-ziode, rather large. This plant should receive stove temperature.
Much more robust in growth and still finer plant than the preceding. The fronds are large, fan shaped, pinnules narrower, more closely set. Delights in good heat.
Distinct plant from any other. The fronds are long, simply pinnate, pinnules large opposite, light green. Native of Jamaica and succeeds well with the stove kinds.
This is one of the most graceful Maiden Hair we have. Grows about a foot high, the fronds are long, arching, pinnules small, light green. This stove species is very useful for baskets and vases. Native of South America.
Another good species from South America, growing about two feet high. The fronds are of medium size, pedately divided, segments oblique, dark green, useful plant for decoration on account of its dense habit. Stove temperature is necesary to grow it well.
This is a deciduous species from Mexico, and should be grown in the stove. It is of pendulous growth and therefore adapted for vases and baskets. During winter, its resting season, should be kept rather dry and cool, and in summer requires more shading than many others.
Useful plant from Peru. It resembles somewhat Adiantum cuneatum. The fronds are larger, more rigid, and less divided. Grows well in the intermediate house.
A delicate species from Himalayas. Grows scarcely a foot high, the fronds are small, pinnately divided, segments nearly half round, light green. The intermediate house is best to grow it in.
Handsome and robust plant from New Zealand. The fronds which come sometimes from very deep ground are very large, supradecompound, pinnules of medium size, bright green in color. This species belongs to the intermediate house, but will thrive well in much cooler house.
Is of dwarf compact growth, fronds are pedately divided, bended down, pinnules bright green. Native of Ceylon; requires the intermediate house.
Robust species, native of New Zealand, fronds of moderate size, rigid pedately divided, segments little hairy, dark green in color. It can be grown even cooler than the intermediate house.
One of the intermediate house kind and worthy to be in every collection. It grows about two feet high, fronds are severally divided, pinnules small, of a good substance and light green color. Unacquainted with its origin.
This beautiful addition to the stove kinds is of garden origin, and said to be a cross between Adiantum decorum and Adiantum trapeziforme. The fronds are gracefully arched, pinnules of drooping position, which gives quite a distinct character to this plant. Raised by Mr. Bause.
Botanic Gardens, Cambridge, Mass.