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15 Fabulous Indoor and Outdoor Ferns

Different types of ferns add texture and interest to your home and garden, whether they mingle with other plants or stand alone as beautiful specimens.

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Ferns Add Welcome Greenery Indoors or Out

Ferns add a lush look to lawns and gardens and add beautiful greenery to indoor spaces. Some types of ferns can thrive indoors and outdoors, like tough Boston ferns, which can hang on your porch until the temperatures drop and then overwinter in your home. If you're only looking for houseplants, consider Kimberly Queen ferns and silver brake ferns. They're some of the best ferns to grow indoors, happy in bright, indirect light.

If you're seeking outdoor ferns, try a bed of eye-catching ostrich ferns or Japanese painted ferns. Tall ferns make great backdrops for shorter flowers and foliage that also love the shade. Read on to find more types of ferns you'll want to grow.

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Photo: Shutterstock/Huaykwang

Staghorn Fern

Staghorn, also known as elkhorn ferns, are eye-catching when they’re mounted on a wall and grown as houseplants. In USDA Zones 9-10, these evergreens can live outside year-round, where many gardeners hang them in trees. Staghorns (Platycerium bifurcatum) are epiphytes, non-parasitic plants that grow on other plants and take in water and nutrients through their fronds. They need bright, indirect light and seldom thrive under artificial lights indoors. When the weather is hot, water them once a week by misting the entire plant or soaking it in water just long enough to saturate the roots. Reduce watering during cooler weather. When your staghorns are actively growing, feed them with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer as directed on the label; feed less often when the plants are dormant in fall and winter.

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Photo: Costa Farms

Boston Fern

Boston ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata), with their arching branches, are perfect for hanging baskets on porches. But keep them out of direct sun, which can scorch them. They need a cool location and indirect light. They also require high humidity if they’re grown as houseplants, so mist them a couple of times each week. Don’t let their soil dry out and feed them with a houseplant fertilizer at half-strength while they're actively growing, from spring to fall. If your fern drops a lot of its foliage while overwintering indoors, cut it back and it will regrow. Left outside, Boston ferns are evergreens in Zones 9-11.

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Photo: Costa Farms

Maidenhair Fern

Maidenhair ferns (Adiantum) brighten shady spots in the garden with their fan-shaped fronds held on shiny, black stems. They're deciduous perennials that thrive outdoors in full to partial shade and moist, well-draining soil rich in organic matter (in nature, you’d find them in the humusy, slightly acidic soil of woodlands). They’re more demanding when grown indoors, as they dislike the dry air in most homes. To enjoy them as houseplants, mist them daily, put their pots on top of some pebbles in a tray with a little water, or keep them in a bathroom or near a kitchen sink. They'll need a location with indirect morning or afternoon sunlight.

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