Heart Fern (Hemionitis Arifolia): Ultimate Care Guide

The heart fern is a lovely addition to any home. The natural habitat of this beautiful plant is a tropical forest but can easily thrive indoors as well if their natural element is mimicked. Its glossy evergreen leaves are shaped like a heart and can grow between six to ten inches tall. It is not only beautiful but used medicinally in parts of Asia to help treat cancer. The heart fern is also known for being able to grow on top of other plants or around trees but is not considered a parasite.

Heart Fern Care

A heart fern can be easily cared for indoors if its natural habitat is closely replicated.

How to care for Heart Fern indoors

Heart ferns can be kept in any room in the house if the conditions are right, or in the bathroom because of the humidity. They prefer to be moist as opposed to being wet. If they are too wet, they can experience root rot.

Can you grow Heart Fern in a terrarium?

Another option to grow your luxurious heart ferns is to keep them in a terrarium. In this type of environment, the heart fern will thrive. This is because a terrarium supports moisture and high humidity, both factors that the heart fern needs to grow. Being in a terrarium will ensure that your heart fern stays moist as well as warm.

Heart ferns can be kept as the perfect indoor plant as the conditions they need to thrive are easily copied. They will do best sitting in indirect sunlight in a humid room, or in the bathroom as there is more humidity in this room.

Heart Fern (Hemionitis Arifolia)
Heart Fern (Hemionitis Arifolia)


Indirect sunlight is what is needed for the heart fern to thrive. Think of what it is like in the tropical forest, and this is what your plant will need. If they come into direct contact with the sun, their sensitive leaves could easily become scorched. The best place for this plant to sit is in a north facing window. If this is not an option, they can also sit in an east or west facing window with curtains drawn to protect your delicate fern.

Soil Requirement & pH

When found in its natural surroundings, the heart fern tends to thrive in more acidic soil. The preferable acidity of the soil should be 5.0-6.5. Although this is the preferable range, they can survive off a pH balance of 7.0 for some time. Lemon juice can be added to the soil to increase the acidity.

The soil used to house your heart fern should be well draining, fertile, and humus rich. To create the perfect soil for your house plant, mix equal parts soil, organic matter, and sand/gravel. This combination makes the soil light enough to allow the roots to easily grow through.


Heart ferns love the water, but it is important to not overwater them. Their soil should be moist and consistently watered to maintain the moisture. While the soil should be moist, it is crucial to not overwater it as it can cause root rot and cause the leaves to become yellow. If your heart fern is underwatered, you will find that it will become easily wilted. The type of water you use also plays a large role in the health of your evergreen plant. Rainwater is always the best option for the heart fern, but you can also use filtered tap water. Using unfiltered tap water can be harmful as it has high levels of chlorine and fluoride. The tap water alternatively can sit for 24 hours before using.


Humidity is important for the health of the heart fern. This is because it is a tropical plant and used to humid conditions. To mimic these conditions, they can be kept in a bathroom, or you can keep a humidifier in the room. Using a humidifier will add moisture to a room with dry air. Alternatively, spraying a mist of water around your plants is another great way to increase the humidity. This can be done in the morning, or as much as you believe it needs. You simply need to ensure that the air has dried before evening to avoid fungal issues.


Due to their tropical nature, the heart fern prefers temperatures between 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit. This can affect when it should be watered. The soil should only be watered when moderately dry if the temperature is under 60 degrees. It should be watered more frequently if the temperature rises over 75 degrees. To ensure that the temperature in your home does not differ much from these temperatures, a heater or air conditioner should be used appropriate to the season. The heart fern should not sit directly by either appliance as the air is harsh and will damage the plant. Trimming is a good idea when it becomes cold or hot as it will help it conserve moisture.

Heart Fern Hardiness Zone

The heart fern has a hardiness zone of 10-12.

Heart Fern in a pot
Heart Fern in a pot


The heart fern will need to be fertilized only once a month. If it receives too much, it can burn. Applying household liquid fertilizer is efficient in giving the plant the sustenance it needs.


There are two different ways that it is possible to propagate the heart fern. One way is through division, and the other is through spores. The heart fern produces dark spores on mature leaves. When the leaf is dry, it will drop these spores. The spores can be saved and then planted in potting mix. They should be sprayed regularly and covered with plastic until sprouts begin to pop up. One the new growth reaches approximately 2-3 inches in height; they can be separated to their own pots.

It is also possible to propagate the heart fern through division. This is a more convenient and quick option as opposed to waiting for new plants to grow. The plant will be divided once it is dense enough by the root plant. Once divided, they can be planted in individual pots and allowed to settle.

Size and Growth Rate

The heart fern is the perfect house plant due to its size. This plant can grow up to approximately 40 cm in height, making this a great edition to any part of the home.

Common Problems with Heart Fern

With any plant, there are some ailments that the plant can experience. A common problem that the heart fern experiences is curling of the leaves. The leaves curl from improper watering or inadequate humidity. The proper hydration along with humidity will keep your heart fern leaves luscious, as the leaves only curl when they are trying to save additional water loss through transpiration.

Another common problem that the heart fern experiences are yellow leaves. This can occur because of root rot. When there is too much water, the roots will drown and die. The water will go throughout the plant and when overflowed in cells, they can also burst and die, causing the leaves to turn yellow. The plant will require less watering. A few other causes could be nutrient deficiency, pest infestation or over fertilization.

You may experience your heart fern suffering. The heart fern can die from many different causes such as lack of diseases, pests, inadequate living conditions, and even lack of TLC. Make sure to give your heart fern plenty of attention and care to ensure it is getting what it needs to thrive.

Common pests that can be found on the heart fern are scale, mealybugs, and aphids. It may be nerve-wracking to see these creatures on your plant, but they rarely can kill an entire plant. To rid your heart fern of these pests, you can spray the leaves to flush them out. You can also add detergent to the water to kill them off.

Like other plants, the heart fern can carry diseases such as rot root and fungal diseases. Typically, this is caused by overwatering. To fix root rot, you will simply need to monitor how much water the fern is getting. As for the fungal diseases, a fungicide treatment will be needed.

Is Heart Fern Pet safe?

As beautiful as the heart fern is, it is a common concern to ensure the plants you bring into the home are safe for your furry friends. The heart fern is the perfect edition to your home as it is a non-toxic plant. This makes it pet safe, for dogs and cats alike.

Where can I find Heart Fern for sale?

Heart ferns can be purchased at many different supermarkets as well as nurseries. Heart ferns typically cost approximately $20.

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