Heart Leaf Fern

Scientific Name: Hemionitis Arifolia

Common Name: Heart Leaf Fern

Heart Leaf Fern care is an easier Fern to grow and care for. If you want a houseplant that will stay small and be dainty, a Hemionitis Arifolia plant may be for you.

To give this Fern the best care, it requires well-draining soil, keep the soil moist, provide it with indirect light, temperatures above 60F, and high humidity levels.

Quick Care Overview

Common NameHeart Leaf Fern, Dwarf Fern
Scientific NameHemionitis Arifolia
OriginSoutheast Asia
Growth RateSlow
IdentificationDark green heart shaped leaves that can vine
HeightUp to 8 inches in height
SoilWell-draining soil
WaterKeep soil consistently moist
SunlightIndirect sunlight
Toxic to Cats & DogsNo
Toxic to HumansNo
PestsScale, aphids, fungus gnats, weevils
DiseasesRoot rot, powdery mildew, botrytis, southern blight

Below we will dive deep into this Heart Leaf Fern care guide.

Heart Leaf Fern Care

Heart Leaf Fern History

Hemionitis Arifolia, otherwise known as the Heart Leaf Fern, dwarf fern, or tongue fern, is one of the most popular, unique ferns available on the market. With beautiful heart-shaped foliage, this southern Asia native will make a beautiful addition to your plant collection. 

Heart Leaf Fern Identification

The Heart Leaf Fern presents with glossy, green, heart-shaped foliage that grows from black stems. 

Heart Leaf Fern Growth Facts

The Heart Leaf Fern can be a bit finicky to care for. Ensure that you provide this plant with plenty of moisture and warmth. 

How Big Does a Heart Leaf Fern Get?

The Heart Leaf Fern will stay compact in size, growing up to 8” tall. 

Heart Leaf Fern Care

The Heart Leaf Fern does particularly well when kept in a terrarium or glass dome, due to its high humidity requirements. 

Heart Leaf Fern Soil

Hemionitis Arifolia, as a partially epiphytic plant, is not particularly fussy about soil. Your plant will benefit from being grown in a rich, well-draining soil, such as a commercial potting mix indicated for tropical plants. 

Heart Leaf Fern Fertilizer

Unlike many other tropical plants, the heart leaf fern does not require much fertilizer. However, Hemionitis Arifolia will benefit from an occasional feeding. Select a fertilizer indicated for houseplants and follow all label instructions. It is suggested to dilute the recommended dose by about half. Do not feed this fern in fall or winter. Ensure that you do not overfertilize, as this may lead to chemical burn. 

Heart Leaf Fern Watering

Hemionitis Arifolia will like to be kept in consistently moist soil that is not oversaturated with water. Adding a layer of sphagnum moss to the top of the container will help conserve moisture. 

If overwatered, the leaves of this fern will curl. Due to the shallow root system of this plant, it is easily susceptible to root rot. You should not let your fern sit in standing water within the plant’s drainage tray. 

Heart Leaf Fern Light Requirements

Hemionitis Arifolia will grow best if kept in indirect light. This best emulates its natural environment, where the tropical forest canopy would filter the sun’s rays. If kept inside a terrarium, artificial light will do quite fine. However, you should not allow this plant to be held in direct sunlight as this will cause the leaves to shrivel quickly. 

Heart Leaf Fern Temperature & Humidity

The Heart Leaf Fern is extra particular when it comes to humidity. To be happy, it requires very high humidity, between 60-80%. If kept in too low humidity, this plant will shrink and curl up quickly. This issue may be remediated by keeping your heart leaf fern in a glass dome or terrarium or keeping a bag over the plant to recover from low humidity. In addition, the heart leaf fern is particular regarding temperature and is very sensitive to fluctuations. Ensure that it is kept above 60 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. 

Repotting Heart Leaf Fern

As a plant with a small root system that likes to remain rootbound, you will not need to repot your Heart Leaf Fern often. However, when your heart leaf fern has visibility overgrown its pot, you should repot it. It is important to note that as these plants like to retain moisture so much, plastic containers are preferred over terracotta. 

Heart Leaf Fern Maintenance & Pruning

Hemionitis Arifolia does not require much pruning, but it will benefit from having any discolored, diseased, or dead foliage removed using clean, sharp pruning shears. 

Heart Leaf Fern Propagation

Hemionitis Arifolia may be quickly propagated by division. To propagate your plant, divide the roots of your heart leaf fern when repotting. You may need to use a sterile blade or scissors to slice through the entangled roots. After potting the divided plants, water deeply and place in indirect light. It is suggested to cover your plants with a plastic bag or place them inside a dome to aid them with recovering from propagation. 

Heart leaf Fern

Heart Leaf Fern Toxicity

The heart leaf fern is considered non-toxic to humans, cats, and dogs. With that being said, don’t allow pets or small children to chew or ingest the leaves.

Toxicity to Humans

Luckily, Hemionitis Arifolia is not considered toxic to humans and is safe to keep around babies and small children. 

Toxicity to Cats & Dogs

The Heart Leaf Fern is not considered toxic to pets. However, you should avoid allowing your pet to ingest this plant. 

Heart Leaf Fern Problems

Heart Leaf Fern Leaves Turning Yellow

Yellow foliage is often a sign of root rot. Ensure that you are not overwatering your plant. 

Heart Leaf Fern Leaves Turning Brown

Brown foliage is often a sign that your heart leaf fern is receiving too much direct sunlight or is not receiving enough moisture. 

Heart Leaf Fern Diseases

As the Heat Leaf Fern prefers to stay in such high humidity levels and remain consistently moist, it is susceptible to a range of fungal issues. The heart leaf fern may become vulnerable to root rot, botrytis, southern blight, or powdery mildew. Avoid overhead watering and instead opt to water the soil directly. 

Heart Leaf Fern Pests

The Heart Leaf Fern may become susceptible to attack by several indoor pests, including scale, aphids, weevils, and fungus gnats. Upon identifying a pest infestation, isolate your plant, and treat it with a pesticide such as insecticidal soap or neem oil. 


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