How to Plant Ferns in a Pot

Even if you don’t have much space, you can create a lush green display by planting a mix of contrasting ferns in a container.

Planted Ferns Create Dramatic Patio Container

Planted Ferns Create Dramatic Patio Container

Ferns can be grown in a shady garden spot protected from wind and heavy rains. Keep the fern out of direct midday sun and make sure it gets enough water to keep the soil damp. A couple inches of organic mulch will help keep an outdoor fern healthy.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Materials Needed

  • fern plants
  • large planting pot
  • broken clay pieces or gravel
  • soil-based compost
  • slow-release fertilizer granules
  • bucket of water
  • watering can or garden hose

Step 1: Apply Compost and Fertilizer

Apply Slow Release Fertilizer When Potting Ferns

Apply Slow Release Fertilizer When Potting Ferns

Many horticulturists recommend planting ferns with a special fern potting mixture, which can be found at a nursery. Ferns require loose, quick draining mix. It is also acceptable to use regular potting mix and slow release fertilizer.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Place broken clay pot pieces over the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot, and apply a layer of soil-based compost. Add some slow-release fertilizer granules.

Step 2: Position the Ferns

Place Ferns in Original Pots Before Planting

Place Ferns in Original Pots Before Planting

Because ferns are so fragile, it is important to place them where they will not be crowded or brushed up against. Allow them to have plenty of personal space so that they can spread out and expand. Try them out in their nursery pots first before planting.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Soak the ferns in a bucket of water for 15 minutes. Place them, still in their original containers, in the pot to ensure that you are happy with the arrangement.

Step 3: Place Ferns on Compost

Tip Ferns Out of Container and Tease Out Roots

Tip Ferns Out of Container and Tease Out Roots

Ferns should be re potted at least once a year. Remove the plant from the pot, divide the roots with a sharp knife, untangle the leaves, and place the ferns into new pots. If the roots have reached the sides and bottom of the pot, it is time to repot it.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Tip the ferns out of their containers, and place them on the layer of compost. Fill in around the root balls, firming the compost gently with your fingers.

Step 4: Plant Ferns

Planted Ferns Create Dramatic Patio Container

Planted Ferns Create Dramatic Patio Container

Ferns can be grown in a shady garden spot protected from wind and heavy rains. Keep the fern out of direct midday sun and make sure it gets enough water to keep the soil damp. A couple inches of organic mulch will help keep an outdoor fern healthy.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Plant the ferns at the same depth as in their original containers, leaving a gap of 2 inches between the pot rim and top of the compost to allow space for watering. Water in well.