Table of Content

About

Ferns have been around almost since the dawn of time growing in damp shaded forests across the world. From tropical forests to cooler woodlands, these living relics date back almost three hundred million years. Over this time, thousands of varieties have been formed in the wild and by modern cultivators with around ten to fifteen thousand different species in existence. Even today new Fern species are still being found in unexplored areas of the world.

Since they first reached the houseplant scene in the early 19th century, Ferns have been some of the most rewarding houseplants out there. They can be true specimens of beauty, adding their own unique touch to interior spaces with a wide range of shapes, sizes, and textures. They are graceful and elegant plants, with many soft and delicate leaf forms. Their lush fronds can bring added tranquillity to some of the gloomiest corners of our homes. 

But these plants aren’t for the haphazard beginner, to really make these plants thrive and grow to their full potential they need to be nurtured and watched with an attentive eye. But at least once you’ve learnt to take care of one Fern you should have your bases covered for any different species in the future. Most Ferns are pretty similar when it comes to their care and often the same rules apply across many different species. 

Light

The common mistake that is often made with Ferns is that they can happily survive in full-shade locations or areas with very low amounts of natural light. While the plants are tolerant to shade, as houseplants they will require medium indirect light and ideally with a splash of dappled sunlight in the morning depending on the species.

While you will definitely want to keep your Fern out of the reach of direct midday to afternoon sunlight, as this will cause scorch to the fronds and the plant will quickly start losing leaves, the easy mistake to make is to underestimate the level of light these plants require to thrive. Low light levels will result in thin and leggy growth that develops very slowly, ferns should be bushy and abundant, so if your plant isn’t looking its best it may be time to find a brighter location.

Humidity

Humidity is vital to keep your Fern happy and growing vigorously. Most varieties of Ferns we keep as houseplants hail from tropical and subtropical rainforests where humidity levels are naturally very high. Ideally, these plants will be exposed to around 70% humidity in the summer months and around 40%-50% in the winter months. 

It’s best to place your Fern in a room where they naturally receive a high level of humidity, these plants are perfectly suited to bathrooms and kitchens as long as they get enough light. If your Fern is in a lower humidity area of your home, misting your ferns will help, but this won’t be a long-term solution to raising the humidity. 

Water

Getting the right watering schedule for your Fern is a top priority for keeping your plant at the pinnacle of health. Almost all houseplant Ferns like to be kept in continually moist soil and can quickly start struggling if they are left to dry out completely or have their watering needs neglected. 

During the summer, when Ferns are likely to be absorbing the moisture from their soil at a faster rate, it can be more beneficial to water your Fern a little and often as opposed to a large amount of water less frequently. This will stop the plant from drying out completely and help them maintain the damp environment they thrive in. 

By no means do you want this plant to be saturated or sitting in water for long periods, overwatering can be just as damaging as underwatering. If the fronds of your Fern are starting to drop off, without being dry and crispy to the touch, this is usually a strong indicator the plant has been overwatered. 

Soil

While Ferns like to be kept moist they will still require a potting mix with a good amount of drainage and aeration as well as a good amount of organic matter like peat moss or coco-coir. This is where Fern care can become tricky, having the right balance of moisture retention but not so much that the plant holds on to too much water which can cause root rot and starve the plant of oxygen. 

Houseplant compost is your best bet as this will have adequate drainage and a good base level of organic matter. You can always tweak the soil you are using by adding Perlite to aid drainage or Vermiculite to increase water retention. 

Pests & Diseases 

Ferns are resilient plants but can still suffer from pests. It is good practice to regularly check your plants for any signs of aphids, red spider mites, mealy bugs, and thrips. By checking regularly, you allow yourself time to prevent a full-blown attack.