Heart fern


There are about eight species of ferns in the genus. Hemionitis is an unusual fern, absolutely different from its fellows, up to 9-14 inches in height. It belongs to ornamental plants.

Plant types

Hemionitis arifolia

  • Hemionitis arifolia (heart fern) is a small fern, up to 14 in long. The sporiferous heart fern hemionitis arifolia leaves (wyes) are arrow-triangular in shape, glossy above, slightly pubescent below. The sterile, heart shaped leaves, triangular leaves. The stem is up to 8 in long. Sporangia are dark red, densely arranged.

Hemionitis palmata

  • Hemionitis palmata is a fern with parameters similar to those of Hemionitis aronnicolor, the distinguishing feature of which is palmate-lobate buds. The sterile leaves are trilobate. The sporangia are reticulate, brown in color. The petioles of the sporiferous leaves are longer.

Hemionitis pinnatifida

  • Hemionitis pinnatifida is distinguished by its pinnate leaves. It is native to Central America.

Heart fern history

The scientific name for the heart leaf fern is Hemionitis arifolia (heart fern) and is commonly referred to by a number of names, including fern tongue.

First identified in 1859, heart leaf ferns are native to Southeast Asia. It is a slender dwarf fern that is also an epiphyte, which means it also grows on trees.

Not only does it make an attractive specimen to add to the fern collection, but it is also being studied for its supposed beneficial effects in treating diabetes.

The jury is still out, but early Asian cultures used the heart leaf to treat the disease.

Family Hemionitidaceae

Herat fern shape and size

This fern is a dark green heart-shaped leaf, about 2-3 inches long and on black stems, and reaches 6-8 inches tall. The leaves are dimorphic, which means that some are sterile and some are fertile.

The sterile branches are heart-shaped on a 2 to 4-inch thick stem, while the fertile leaves are arrowhead-shaped on a thicker stem. The leaves are not the stereotypical leaves of a fern.

The heart fern’s foliage is dense, leathery, and slightly waxy.

Like other ferns, this does not flower but multiplies from spores in the spring.

heart fern

Heart fern care

Because this fern is native to regions with warm temperatures and high humidity, the challenge for growing heart fern gardeners as indoor plants is to maintain these conditions:

  • low light,
  • high humidity
  • warm temperatures.


If you live in an area with outdoor climatic conditions that mimic the aforementioned, the heart fern can thrive in an outdoor area, but for the rest of us, this little fern should grow in a terrarium or shaded area in an atrium or greenhouse.

Maintain temperatures between 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit (15-29 degrees Celsius) with cooler temperatures at night and higher temperatures during the day.

Increase humidity levels by keeping a gravel tray under the fern.

Heart fern soil

Taking care of the heart fern also tells us that this evergreen perennial needs well-drained soil that will be fertile, moist, and rich in humus.

A mixture of pure aquarium charcoal, one part sand, two parts humus, and two parts garden soil (with a little spruce bark for drainage and moisture) is recommended.

heart fern


Ferns don’t need much additional fertilizer, so feed only once a month with water-soluble fertilizer diluted in half.

During growth, fertilize once a month or less frequently with twice-diluted fertilizer. You can use organic fertilizer. Do not fertilize in the winter.

Heart fern light

The indoor fern heart plant needs bright, indirect sunlight.

Shade-loving, so the best place to grow heart fern will be a northern windowsill. It is necessary to be protected from direct sunlight.


Keep the heart fern plant moist, but not wet, as it is prone to rot. Ideally, you should use soft water or leave hard tap water overnight to dissipate harsh chemicals and then use the next day.

The potting soil should be constantly moist not overwatered. In the heat of summer, it may be necessary to water heart fern every day, trying to saturate the soil completely with moisture so that some of the water will escape through the drainage hole.

However, if the soil is too wet, the roots of the plant will rot. A little drying of the top layer of soil between waterings is possible, but you should not allow the plant to wilt, this can damage its leaves. In the winter, watering is reduced.


Older plants can be propagated in June by dividing the shrub. Small plants are planted in shallow pots to the same depth, cover the pots with polyethylene.

heart fern

It is difficult but possible to propagate by spores, which form as the plant matures on the underside of the leaf.

The spores should be placed in an envelope and dried. Then in a plastic box or other vessel put a brick and damp peat on its surface. Pour distilled water to a height of about 2 in. Pour spores on the surface of the peat and cover the container with glass or a plastic lid. Maintain the correct water level at all times.

Place the container in a low light condition, keeping the temperature at 21 ° C. After a few months, green moss will appear on the surface of the peat, and then the leaves. Departure plants should be when they reach 2 in in height.

Heart fern also forms small daughter plants (offspring) from buds located at the base or along the edge of the sterile leaves. These small plants can be replanted.


Young ones every year, older ones as the pot volume fills up. Prefer low clay pots due to the peculiarities of the structure of the root system.

Peculiarities of heart fern care

Under no circumstances the soil should not dry out completely.

Hemionitis needs timely removal of old leaves, regular division. The leaves should be periodically brushed off the dust with a brush.

The peculiarity of Chemionitis is 2 kinds of leaves. The plant has heart-shaped sterile leaves with short petioles (2-3 in) and fertile leaves with long petioles (7-9 in).

There are buds at the base of the leaf blade of the sterile leaves.


Heart fern is also prone to scale, mealybugs and aphids. It is better to remove them by hand than to rely on pesticides, although neem oil is an effective and organic option.

The plant wilts as a result of overwatering in low temperatures or, conversely, from soil drying out in hot weather. Leaf tips turn yellow and dry out in too dry air.

heart fern

Leaves turn yellow and pale and their edges curl in too bright light.

If pest symptoms are detected, the foliage should be washed under warm jets of water (a shower is desirable) and then the leaf blades should be wiped on both sides with an oil, soap, or alcohol solution.

However, such an operation can be difficult because some species have pubescence on both sides.

Therefore, spraying with broad-spectrum insecticides is recommended.

Briefly about heart fern care


3/8 in


Ambient light or penumbra.


In summer 18-21°C.

In winter 14-15 °C.


Require abundant watering 2-3 times a week, and at least once a week in winter, but overwatering is not allowed, the soil must be constantly moist, but not damp.

Air humidity

High, not less than 60%.


During growth, feed every two weeks with twice as much fertilizer.


Every April or May, young plants in a shallow pot, older ones in a larger pot.


In June by dividing the shrub or by separating the buds from the underground tubers, which should be cut off with a sharp knife.

Summary of heart fern

All in all, the heart fern is a fairly easy to maintain and absolutely delightful addition to a fern collection or for those who want a unique indoor plant.

Unusual epiphytic heart ferns, I thought it was supposed to be finicky to care for, but in fact, it turned out not to be at all. It is kept in the penumbra when the humidity is about 50% or more. I water often, but if I miss it, it immediately begins to dry the leaves, so I try to keep it constantly moist substrate.


10 photos to Heart fern

heart fern