Ferns come in numerous varieties. Their variation in their foliage is fascinating and they have incredible diversity. From the delicate colors of the Japanese Painted Fern to the dramatic new growth of the Cinnamon Stick Fern, ferns are stunningly beautiful plants.
What ferns need
Widely planted and generally hardy, ferns don’t ask for much. They need moist, loamy soil that drains well and dries slightly between waterings. They prefer shade to protect the sensitive fronds so they don’t scorch but they need a bit of morning light or filtered sun. Add a little nitrogen-based fertilizer to their watering scheduling and they will grow happily.
Indoor ferns are very popular houseplants since they stay green and full year-round. House ferns like the Boston Fern are happy to live the winter inside but can also spend the warmer months outside.
Be careful with the amount of light you give an indoor fern. However, once you find the right kind of light, your fern will want plenty of it. Look for a spot that gets indirect or filtered light. Try putting your hand in the light and look at the shadow it leaves. The edges should be fuzzy and the shadow should be a bit light in color. (The official description says the light should be between 1100 and 1800 foot candles, a measurement of light.)
Indoor ferns grow best when it’s warm but not hot. The range from 73 to 86 degrees is where they are happiest. Indoor air can sometimes be a little dry for ferns so consider spritzing them with a light mist of water once or twice a week or use a cool mist humidifier and keep them away from heat vents and radiators.
Despite their need for moist air, don’t be tempted to overwater. Ferns do not like wet feet and can be easily damaged by fungus.
Heavy soil, damp soil, dry shade: these are the toughest spots to fill in a garden but ferns don’t mind any of them. Hardy outdoor ferns are the epitome of the low maintenance garden plant. All they ask it that their roots be in the shade and that they be watered regularly. Most outdoor ferns prefer a neutral to alkaline soil but there are acid-loving exceptions.
When ferns become crowded, they need to be divided. This is true for both houseplants and garden plants. The process is the same for most ferns. Remove the plant from the pot or dig up the clump from the garden. Using a sharp spade or knife, cut the root ball in half leaving a part of the crown whole in each section. Replant immediately and keep moist, but not wet.
Once you see how easy these beautiful plants are to grow, you might just fall in love with green.