Fern Care

A Beginner's Guide to Indoor Fern Care

Fern Care

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

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Ferns are ancient, dating all the way back to the Carboniferous period. These indoor plants are living reminders of past ages, 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 said, ferns add a soft, airy texture to your plantscape that can't be replicated. Some ferns shed their leaves occasionally, but with proper watering and maintenance, leaf drop can be significantly reduced. Ferns with larger leaves tend to be less messy and require less water than their thirstier cousins.

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Light

Most people assume ferns thrive in the shadows, but these houseplants need some light, so don't hide these misunderstood indoor plants 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, especially in the summer when the sun's rays are intense! The less light your ferns receive, the slower they will grow, and they may become leggy and thin. If you see this happening, immediately relocate your fern to a brighter spot! Learn more about what light is right for your indoor plants!

Water

Ferns need constant moisture, but don't let them sit in standing water; you will regret it! Only certain types of wetland ferns can live in that environment, and ours are not those types! More importantly, do not neglect to water your ferns. When that happens, you will find a dying fern surrounded by a ring of brown, crunchy leaves. Try this little trick if you are unsure how often to water your ferns. Water frequently, but lightly. Instead of soaking your ferns once a week or whenever you water your plants. Give them a little bit every few days, or just enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy. If the watering riddle still has you scratching your head, consider planting your ferns into self-watering planters, and don't forget to fill the planters when they dry out! The onus falls on you to ensure that their delicate fronds get the water they need to frond on!

Soil

The soil composition is critical when it comes to growing ferns! Ferns need a soil medium that can retain moisture but still drain excess water to avoid the roots from rotting (not a pretty sight!). Most pre-mixed soils will suffice. Make sure that there is plenty of organic matter, like coco-coir, peat moss or shredded leaves, and avoid soils that contain moisture retaining crystals. If your soil is draining too quickly, we recommend re-potting your fern into a compost-rich soil mixture.

Temperature

Ferns adapt quickly 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. When the temperatures are hot and stagnant, we recommend using a fan to provide good air circulation! Moving air helps keep pests and diseases, and fungus away!

Humidity

Humidity is a M-U-S-T to keep your fern strong and vigorous! If you think about the tropical rain forests where they naturally grow, it’s easy to understand 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. We do not recommend misting your ferns -- or any plants --as a source of humidity. You would have to be misting all day for that to happen!. Misting does almost nothing to help raise the humidity for your plants, even though it feels therapeutic and relaxing to do! A stylish and practical way to increase the humidity in a small area is to place the ferns on a tray filled with pebbles and water so the evaporating moisture can reach the foliage. Learn how to increase humidity around your indoor plants!

Fertilizer

Feed your ferns with a ¼-diluted complete liquid fertilizer twice a month during the growing season. You can add organic compost, worm castings, or a slow-release fertilizer. Keep in mind that ferns are sensitive to being over-fertilized, so always dilute any concentrated fertilizer before applying it! Do not feed during the winter or in the colder months.

Pet Friend or Foe

Most ferns are non-toxic. but be sure to research any plant you bring into a home with pets and young children! Friend.

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.
  4. Indoor ferns can become root-bound which leads to stunted growth. Re-pot your ferns into a container that is 2" wider in diameter, using organic-rich soil when re-potting them!
  5. A great time to divide your ferns is when you are re-potting them; take a sharp sterilized knife and carefully slice the root ball in half, and plant each division into their own new pots!
  6. Try placing a fern potted in a terra-cotta pot into a larger ceramic pot. Place moistened moss between the inner terra-cotta pot and the outer ceramic pot. The moistened moss will help slow down the terra-cotta pot from wicking away the moisture from the fern's soil

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