Fern Care

Ferns are an easy to grow houseplant and they come in a multitude of varieties. They are also very forgiving plants and make an excellent choice for first-time plant parents and children.

Light – Most varieties of ferns prefer low to moderate light, but there are some varieties that will actually prefer bright, indirect light such as Holly Fern, Asparagus Fern and Rabbit Fern.

Water – Keep soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Once the top third of the soil has dried, thoroughly saturate the soil. While most ferns are fairly forgiving, Maiden Hair is a variety that will not take too kindly to being under watered.

Soil – Well-draining potting soil, such as Espoma Potting Soil, is best. If your soil is drying out too quickly, mix in vermiculite to aid in water retention.

Temperature – Most ferns sold as houseplants are tropical and should be kept at temperatures between 60ׄ° and 70°. Those that are hardier to cooler climates, like the Japanese Painted Fern, can handle temperatures down into the lower 50° range. Protect ferns from drafts, especially in winter.

Humidity – Nearly all ferns want a lot of humidity. Regular misting, preferably in the morning, is a great way to meet those needs, or you can set the pot in a tray of water and pebbles. A bathroom is a great location for ferns as it’s the most humid room in your house.

Fertilization – Ferns are generally found on forest floors where they have access to lots of nutrients so it’s important to attempt to replicate that in your home. Fertilize regularly and, if possible, mix compost into the soil to provide extra nutrition. There is no need to fertilize during winter.

Size – Size varies drastically from fern to fern, but most of the more common houseplant varieties average 3 to 4 feet tall at maturity.

Repotting – Ferns do not enjoy being pot-bound so you will want to repot them before they reach that state. Select a container with good drainage and no more than two sizes larger than the current pot.

Propagation – Ferns can be propagated by division or by cultivating the spores produced on the undersides of their leaves. Click here for a how-to-guide on spore propagation.

Toxicity – Most ferns are considered non-toxic to people and pets.