How to Take Care of a Fern Indoors

Learn simple techniques for taking care of indoor ferns.

October 05, 2020
Bohemian Sitting Area

Bright, Bohemian-Style Sitting Area With Fern

This sitting area is boho chic with layers of colorful fabrics and pillows, a basket for storage and a richly textured wall hanging.

Photo by: D2 Interieurs

D2 Interieurs

Ferns are one of the oldest plants, dating back to prehistoric times. These adaptable plants will thrive indoors with the right amount of humidity. Some ferns to consider are button ferns, maidenhair ferns, holly ferns, asparagus ferns and staghorn ferns. Here are a few pointers about their care:

Lemon Button Fern

Lemon Button Fern on Bookshelf

Crush the leaves of lemon button ferns (Nephrolepis cordifolia) to release their citrusy scent. They’re the smallest of the Boston ferns and fun to grow as houseplants or in trendy terrariums. Give them filtered shade; they can’t take direct, hot sun. If your home is dry, mist your fern regularly or put it on a tray filled with pebbles and a little water. To avoid root rot, don't let the bottom of the pot touch the water.

Photo by: Costa Farms

Costa Farms

Watering

Most ferns like an evenly moist soil with regular waterings. Allowing the soil to dry out between waterings stresses these plants.

Bushy ferns can be difficult to water. Try using a watering can with a long spout to direct the water to the center of the plant. Water generously, until it drains out of the bottom of the pot.

Brown Contemporary Home Office With Orange Chair

Home Office With Pedestal Table, Fern and Orange Chairs

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Placement

Bathrooms and kitchens are good environments for ferns because of all the running water. To help your ferns thrive in other rooms, try one of these options: add a room humidifier; mist your ferns lightly every few days (avoid daily misting); place plants away from vents and fans to prevent drying out; add well-moistened mood moss around the base of the plant to help hold moisture in the dirt.

Hanging Fern Houseplant

Hanging Fern Houseplant

Containers

Help maintain moisture levels by using double containers for your ferns. Plant the fern in a terra-cotta pot, and place the pot in a larger decorative container. Stuff well-moistened sheet moss between the containers. The terra-cotta pots will transfer moisture to the plant. Cover the top of the container with more moistened moss to conceal the terra-cotta pot and moss between pots.

Create an attractive fern display full of helpful moisture. Start with a large waterproof container. Line the bottom with pebbles or river rocks. Pour water to the top of the rocks, but don't cover the rocks, since the plants should not be sitting in water. Fill the container with a variety of ferns planted in terra-cotta pots.

Staghorn Fern

Staghorn Fern

This mature staghorn fern only requires low light and watering about once a week to thrive.

Photo by: Flynnside Out

Flynnside Out

Care of Staghorn Ferns

A staghorn fern (Platycerium) is an unusual fern that doesn't require soil. It can be attached to an organic object, like a piece of driftwood, and hung from the wall. It grows rapidly and makes a dramatic presentation. To water a staghorn fern, simply dunk the entire arrangement into a bucket of water several times. Let it drain well and then rehang.

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Pruning

Groom your ferns occasionally by snipping away brown fronds.

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