Southern native Maidenhair Fern is adiantum capillus veneris
Part-shade to full-shade will keep it happy and coming back and it will tolerate but not thrive in deep, dense shade. Leaves scorch in direct sun.
Maximum height is about one-foot and unlike many ferns, it's water needs are rated as medium - needs consistently moist soil. Not drought tolerant.
Native in most of the southern half of the U.S., Missouri Botanical Garden says it is cold hardy from zones 5 through 8.
There are 200 Adiantum, Adiantaceae family, ferns in the genus. They all have the same fronds, usually with black, glossy petioles (leaf stems) and fan-shaped leaflets. Their Rhizomes (their crawling underground stem that holds the roots and lives from season to season) are scaly.
Check out the Hardy Fern Foundation for more selections at http://www.hardyferns.org.
Under favorable conditions, both of these ferns will naturalize. See their native ranges at
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ADPE (A. pendatum) and
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ADCA (Adiantum capillus-veneris or Venus Hair Fern)
Limestone rock walls near waterfalls are one of their favored environments so try to duplicate that with lots of humus rich soil. There's another reason to plant these beauties - they are becoming endangered.
is another native fern choice
for the woodland, shade or Zen garden.
Friends in northern CA grew it like a weedy filler but in colder climates I wouldn't have tried it until I heard information to the contrary.
I've started to look for it but haven't found it yet. Must try it though!