Fern Care

Fern Care

Family: Polypodiaceae
Common names: (see varieties below)
Botanical Names: (see varieties below)

Ferns are ancient, dating all the way back to the Carboniferous period. These indoor plants are living reminders of ages gone by, and it's well worth bringing this piece of Earth’s origin into your home. Most varieties of ferns (from Kangaroo Paws to Autumn Ferns) require basic care, but they’ll need just a bit more pampering than other tropical plants because they love a humid environment. That being said, ferns add a soft, airy texture to your plant scape that can’t be replicated. Some ferns shed their leaves from time to time, but with proper watering and maintenance, leaf drop can be greatly reduced. Larger leaf ferns tend to be less messy and require less water than their thirstier cousins.

Japanese Painted Fern potted indoor plant

Light

Most people assume ferns thrive in the shadows, but these houseplants need some light, so don’t hide them in dark corners. Medium, indirect dappled light will bring out the best in them (picture them under a thick canopy of trees on a sunny day). Avoid direct sunlight.

Water

Ferns need constant moisture, but don’t let them sit in standing water. Only certain types of wetland ferns can live in that environment. More importantly, do not neglect to water your fern. When that happens, you will find a dying fern surrounded by a ring of brown, crunchy leaves.

Temperature

Ferns adapt easily to most household temperatures. They prefer to live in cooler temps but can withstand temperatures into the 90’s. They’ll just need more water and shade during a heatwave.

Humidity

Humidity is a MUST in order to keep your fern strong and vigorous! If you think about the tropical rainforests where they naturally grow, it’s easy to see why. A humidifier will be the best solution to raise the humidity in your home during the cold months when the forced-air heat is cranking and dries out the air. Misting your plants is a temporary fix; if you’re able to mist multiple times daily that will help. If you can’t mist often, then place the ferns on a tray filled with pebbles and water so the evaporating water can reach the foliage.

Fertilizer

Feed your ferns with a ¼-diluted complete liquid fertilizer twice a month during the growing season. Do not feed during the winter or in the colder months.

Pro Tips

  1. Only fertilize your indoor plants after you’ve saturated the soil with water; this avoids burning the roots and foliage.
  2. Group ferns together to make caring for them easier.
  3. Leave your ferns in the grow pots or plant in nonporous pots as this helps keep their soil moist.

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