Leatherleaf Fern Plant Care: How To Grow Rumohra Adiantiformis

Rumohra adiantiformis [roo-MOH-ruh, ad-ee-an-tih-FOR-mis] is a fern species from the  family Dryopteridaceae. It is native to a diverse range of countries in the Caribbean, South America, southern Africa, Australasia, Papua New Guinea, and islands in the West Indian Ocean.

The plant is typically grown in gardens as well as indoors.

Attractive leaf of the Leatherleaf Fern Plant (Rumohra Adiantiformis)Attractive leaf of the Leatherleaf Fern Plant (Rumohra Adiantiformis)

Common names include:

  • Leather Fern
  • Leather-leaf Fern
  • Leathery Shield Fern
  • Iron Fern
  • 7-weeks Fern

Leatherleaf Fern Care

Size & Growth

Rumohra adiantiformis is an evergreen herbaceous fern species growing up to 2’ – 4’ feet depending on the growing conditions.

The dark green-colored, lacy-looking, finely-cut, glossy, and triangular-shaped fronds give the plant a tropical appearance.

A feature of leather leaf distinguishing it from most other fern species is it does not have separate reproductive fronds.

Instead, the reproductive clusters, called sori, are located on the underside of the leaflets.

Since the fern species spreads slowly, it is suitable for growing in small spaces, pots, and hanging baskets as well.

When grown outdoors, make sure to leave 24” – 36” inches of space between each fern.

The fern is hardy to USDA hardiness zones 9-11.

Flowering and Fragrance

Since Rumohra is a fern species, it does not produce any flowers.

Evergreen year-round.

Holds its deep green color and frond integrity under less-than-ideal circumstances.

Light & Temperature

Adiantiformis prefers a partial shade position with filtered sunlight.

While the plant can survive in full shade, it cannot tolerate full sun and direct sunlight, so be careful not to expose your plant to full and direct sun.

Outdoors, leatherleaf ferns grow best in shady areas but inside will take bright, indirect light.

The plant cannot tolerate temperatures below 24° degrees Fahrenheit (-4° C), so avoid planting them outdoors if you live in an area where the temperature falls below this during winters.

USDA hardiness zone 9 – 11.

Watering and Feeding

Though they are not particularly high-maintenance, leatherleaf ferns do have specific light, soil and water requirements.

While rumohra adiantiformis plants need regular watering to thrive, they can survive with less frequent watering after they are fully established.

However, do not let them completely dry out as they only have moderate drought tolerance.

The plants are also intolerant to water with a high mineral concentration or is salty.

Fertilizing the plant with a half-strength liquid fertilizer once a month, during the growing season, helps to maintain the color and shine of its foliage.

The frequency and amount of the fertilizer vary according to the type of soil the ferns are planted in.

Do not apply fertilizer to the transplanted rhizomes until they start developing feeder roots.

Soil & Transplanting

The houseplant fern species can grow in loam, clay, or sand, but the soil has to be rich in organic matter, moist, and well-draining.

Expert planters suggest to top-mulch the plant periodically for best results.

It also prefers acidic soil.

Grooming and Maintenance

The fern is a low maintenance plant and doesn’t require much effort from your side.

Cut the old fronds down to the ground with a sharp knife in spring just as the new growth appears.

You may also like the Ghost Fern – Athyrium Hybrida

How To Propagate Leather Fern

Propagation of leather-leaf fern is performed through spores or rhizome divisions; however, the latter method is mostly preferred by non-commercial planters.

Take about 3” – 5” inches long terminal rhizome cuttings at the beginning of the plant’s growing cycle, in spring, and plant them in separately in potting filled with sterile and well-draining soil.

For best results, include a few leathery fronds in the rhizome cuttings; it improves the ability of rhizome divisions to take roots.

While the leather-leaf fern propagates naturally through spores in mid-summer, the spores are collected and sown by gardeners.

Propagation from spores is done by sowing them on the surface of a sterilized and moist growing medium.

A mixture made from equal parts of loam, coarse sand, peat, and leaf mold is considered the best for growing rumohra adiantiformis through spores.

Iron Fern Pest or Diseases

Leather fern plants can get affected by:

The plant is also susceptible to fungal diseases, but most of them are prevented by using sterile tools and growing mediums.

You may also consider applying a fungicide in established plants.

Excessive watering and poor drainage may cause root rot, which then can affect the color of the foliage and may also cause wilting.

Uses For Rumohra Leather Leaf

Rumohra adiantiformis is cultivated as an ornamental plant, mainly as a groundcover, and is also widely used in floral arrangements due to the longevity of its fronds.

The fern species has significant economic importance in Brazil – a large number of local people earn money by wild-harvesting and selling the fronds.

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