Ferns are undoubtedly among the most elegant-looking houseplants. This plant features elegant and sophisticated fronds (sometimes, even very gorgeous arching fronds), as well as lush green coloring, that look good anywhere, especially when grown as indoor plants.
Get to know more about ferns and how to grow and keep these indoor plants alive through this article.
Quick Thoughts About Ferns
Ferns refer to types of plants capable of reproducing through spores, instead of seeds or flowers. Ferns are among the oldest plants that you can grow. Some botanists are still in conflict regarding the specific classification of this particular plant, but many agree that they are part of the Petridophytes division.
In the world of gardening, though, the definition of ferns is more on the way they look, their presence, and their shape. Their appearance is even more important than the actual scientific group they belong to.
Several ferns are also part of tropical regions, and many tropical plants feature exotic and original appearances. Other ferns are in temperate regions and most of them are suitable outdoors during cold winters.
What Makes Ferns so Popular?
If you are in search of a houseplant that is not only large but also foliage-rich, choose ferns. It has become so popular as it gives people a lot of options considering the fact that it has numerous species and varieties.
Another reason for its popularity is that it does not require much effort and time to keep your ferns healthy and happy indoors. You just have to make sure that its needs, specifically indirect and bright light, soil, and water are well-provided.
The best indoor ferns also look great undoubtedly. They make gorgeous and elegant houseplants capable of adding bright colors to all kinds of room and improving their creative natural structure.
You can choose from small fern varieties to longer ones that reach up to 6 feet tall. You can also go for hardy ferns or those that are more delicate. With that, it can definitely give you a means of owning a tropical plant regardless of your skills in gardening.
The long, flowing, and arching fern fronds, as well as their bright colors and amazing textures, are also among the major reasons why many gardeners continue to get attracted to the plant.
Benefits of Growing Indoor Ferns
Apart from their beautiful and elegant look, the best indoor ferns also carry other benefits that make them even more popular among those who love gardening. Among them are the following:
Purifies the air
Many ferns work effectively in purifying household air, making it truly great for indoor gardening. Expect them to get rid of pollutants, such as xylene and formaldehyde, resulting in you having an easier time breathing while also improving your sleep. The fact that ferns can purify the air also relieves headaches.
Easy to grow
You will not also have a hard time growing the best indoor ferns. Most of the plant pots where they are also only need minimal upkeep.
Boosts your home’s visual appeal
They look so good and elegant that they can surely turn your home into a better place to live in. The best indoor ferns can also make tiny and small apartments look even better.
Fern Varieties You Can Successfully Grow Indoors
Ferns are incredible options as houseplants. They feature lush greenery capable of complementing your flowering plants. It is also possible to grow them in anything you can think of, including hanging baskets and clay pots.
Overall, they are low-maintenance plants that can thrive and grow indoors as they do not strictly need full sun. You can even keep them as potted plants. To start growing ferns indoors, here are some varieties you can grow:
Bird’s Nest Fern
The bird’s nest fern boasts of its exceptional beauty and its flat and wide uncut fronds. It can grow narrow and elongated fronds surrounding the middle rosette. You can also find light green fronds featuring dark central veins.
Once your bird’s nest fern becomes established, you have an assurance that it will no longer be too fussy when it comes to moisture. This means that it can handle some neglect in terms of watering, though, it is still fond of humidity and moisture. It can withstand dry soil.
Otherwise called crispy wave, those plants that receive plenty of light produce crinkled fronds that can be likened to seaweed. Meanwhile, those that grow in full shade feature flat fronds, resembling proper leaves.
If you decide to grow your bird’s nest in a container, make sure to mount it similarly to the staghorn fern. When watering, avoid directly pouring the water into its rosette as it may cause it to rot. Achieve better results by watering the soil surrounding the plant.
Provide it with partial to full shade to prevent direct exposure to bright light that may damage their gorgeous bright-green leaves. It is also advisable to use a peat-based potting mix. This can result in well-draining and loose soil, which has a low risk of compacting and will not hold excessive amounts of watering that may only lead to root rot.
Asparagus Fern (Asparagus Aethiopicus)
The asparagus fern can also be expected to grow beautifully indoors. You just have to make sure that it receives enough light and ample humidity. It also works well for beginners as it is low-maintenance and is intended for those who do not have any experience growing ferns yet.
The asparagus fern (asparagus aethiopicus) has a bushy and compact structure, making it form a nice and gorgeous shape that appears well-put. One more thing you should take note of about this variety is that its leaves are not actually leaves. They are what we call cladophylls that refer to small branchlets.
Once this type of fern matures while being in a satisfying indoor environment, there is a high possibility for it to produce and bloom small flowers that can further beautify it. If you are planning to grow asparagus ferns, keep in mind that they love dappled light.
Do not expose it to direct light since it may only cause damage to its small branchlets. Also, take note that this type of fern thrives successfully in high humidity so you should provide it with moist soil and daily misting.
Also called sword fern, Boston ferns are well-loved because they are among the best indoor ferns that you can easily care for and maintain. One thing that the Boston fern needs to thrive well is fertile and well-drained soil. You also have to continue giving the plant with a soil moist enough but never excessively soggy.
In that case, you also have to do regular misting to retain moisture during the winter season. Boston ferns are also considered real classics in the world of ferns. This plant continuously features its signature and easily recognizable frills shaped like a sword and visible on their long fronds.
The Boston fern is capable of growing at around two to three feet tall and wide. This size makes it perfect for various spaces, like hanging baskets, tabletops, and regular pots. Help the Boston fern grow denser by positioning it in a spot that allows it to be exposed to bright indirect light.
This variety also loves mild temperatures. It does not tolerate extreme cold or heat. You also need to provide this fern with moist soil and a high humidity level, which are crucial for almost all types and varieties of fern.
Japanese Painted Fern
The Japanese painted fern is a native plant from Eastern Asia. Many consider it a beautiful and colorful fern with nice-looking silvery blue-green fronds. You will also immediately notice its dark and reddish-purple stems that make them look more distinctive when combined with the fronds.
The Japanese painted ferns also fall under the deciduous fern classification. It requires well-drained and compost-rich soil that you have to water regularly. Most fronds can actually provide any garden with a nice evergreen backdrop but this particular one tends to stand out as it can enliven and brighten up a space creatively.
The holly fern has become among the favorite ferns of many because of its dark green fronds that are also stiff and feature coarse margins. What’s great about this fern is that it has a higher level of resilience compared to other types. It even has the ability to tolerate dry air as well as colder temperatures.
One thing to remember about the holly fern is that it is not that fond of the sun. In other words, you have an assurance that it can already wonderfully adapt to low-light situations.
You can also classify it as an evergreen plant when exposed to mild climates. It may be incapable of tolerating the harsh winter season, but it can thrive in USDA zones 6 to 10. With that in mind, it is safe to say that you can safely keep this type of fern not only indoors but also outdoors.
In terms of their watering requirements, keep in mind that you need to water them deeply then let drain. Do not plant this fern in soils that are at risk of becoming soggy. Go for fast-draining and loose mixes.
Australian Tree Fern
The Australian tree fern is considered one of those varieties of ferns with a larger size. You can liken this fern to the palm tree because of the long lacy fronds it holds that can already reach a height of 15 feet
It is crucial to note that this fern is not that drought-tolerant, so you need to water it every week to maintain the moisture in the soil all the time. This fern is also one of those plants that grow slowly. It makes the plant perfect for container planting outdoors and in shaded gardens and borders found in bigger gardens.
Based on the name, it is safe to assume that staghorn ferns have fronds that can be likened to stag’s antlers. What is so remarkable about this fern is that you can easily and quickly care for it. You just have to ensure that you do not overwater this plant since doing so may only result in root rot.
The staghorn fern also falls under the classification of epiphytes. In other words, it requires a host plant where it can grow successfully on and in its natural habitat. This habitat often consists of bigger plants and other trees.
The staghorn fern also tends to do well when grown in well-draining coarse soils that are rich in humus. Make sure to mount this fern, too.
If you are willing to grow a variety that requires more maintenance than usual, go for the maidenhair fern. This type of fern needs to be in a soil moist enough all the time even if its fronds are incapable of tolerating misting.
The maidenhair fern is also one of those plants that will have a higher chance of survival when grown in soil with a high level of organic matter. It is also highly likely for this fern to grow incredibly well when it is in a moist part of your home, such as in your bathroom’s corner.
Maidenhair ferns may be a bit harder to care for and maintain compared to the others, but their beauty will surely make your indoor space pop and brighten even more. Their small, delicate, and hand-shaped fronds look truly gracious and sophisticated.
Rabbit’s Foot Fern
The rabbit’s foot fern is a native of Fiji, which is famous for its ability to grow creeping furry rhizomes. You can see these rhizomes running over the surface of the soil, which is where it derived its name. It features lace-like or gauze leaflets with upright growth and is a fantastic houseplant provided you give it a humid indoor environment.
It is also crucial for you to ensure that its potting mix stays moist. The rabbit’s foot fern is a good choice if you are in search of plants that you can put and arrange in hanging baskets.
When growing the rabbit’s foot fern, you have to avoid using the soil to cover their growths as doing so may only cause root rot. It can handle the drying of soil occasionally, but it would be a lot better to keep the soil consistently moist.
One more thing that you should provide for this type of fern is bright, indirect light. Avoid putting it in a place where it gets exposed to direct sunlight as it may only result in the scorching of its delicate and bright green leaves.
In case of dry air indoors, misting is necessary. You may also what to put your rabbit’s foot fern over a humidity tray so it will continue to stay in good shape.
If you decide to grow the kangaroo fern indoors, it will serve as a tabletop plant despite the fact that its growth pattern will be a bit wild in the sense that its fronds will have different shapes and sizes. You will also immediately notice the lime green or light green fronds. There is also a deep-colored vein that tends to run down at the middle of the green fronds.
You can also grow the kangaroo fern outdoors provided you are in zones 9 to 11. If your zone is not part of what’s mentioned, you have to grow it as an indoor fern. It also boasts of its low-growing spreading habit, which is why you need to provide it with some care and attention to ensure that you get to monitor its growth while in the pot.
Cretan Brake Fern
Also called ribbon fern, Cretan brake fern is also a good choice for an indoor fern as you can easily take care of it. In fact, it is easier to maintain and take care of compared to other varieties.
This fern is clump-forming, featuring long and curved fronds in dark green-white color. One advantage of this fern is that it is hardy in the sense that it can withstand drying out in between each watering.
For it to survive and grow, you need to provide it with a high humidity level. It is also essential to prune discolored and dead fronds regularly for this plant to grow and thrive. It also tends to grow well in a peat-based potting mix.
The crocodile fern actually derived its name from the green and leathery foliage it has that can be likened to crocodile or alligator skin. The unique look of crocodile ferns is among the major reasons why they are so popular for those who are in search of amazing houseplants.
Another important fact about crocodile ferns is that their natural habitat is humid, so ensure that you are able to provide them with a humid environment after deciding to grow one at home. In that case, you can put it in the bathroom as it allows it to absorb all the moisture that your hot and steamy showers emit.
When planning to put it in other areas of your home, spritz your surroundings every week. It also helps to put your crocodile fern in a humidity tray. You may also use a humidifying machine.
The lady fern is also famous for its other name, gray ghost. One thing that you will immediately notice about this fern is its silvery-white foliage. Also, take note that it is one of those fern species that love the shade.
With that said, you should position it in a place where you will be unable to expose it directly to bright sunlight. It is in need of bright indirect light. Another thing that this variety is fond of is light and loamy soil, though, it can also tolerate clay-like and sandy positions.
When grown in a container, expect it to grow to around two to three feet tall, which is its perfect size indoors. Do you want to have control over the size of your lady fern? Then be aware that you can do that through regular pruning.
However, if it outgrows your present container, the best thing to do is to have it transplanted into another pot. This is necessary for preventing the bounding of roots.
Lemon Button Fern
Otherwise known as the fishbone fern, the lemon button fern variety boasts of its neat and compact look. It features long and feathery fronds as well as round-shaped leaflets. Your lemon button fern also thrives well in acidic and moist soils.
It is also one of the best indoor ferns as it is so easy to grow that it can thrive even when grown in salty soils and a seaside climate. It is also distinctive in the sense that it lacks the common red color of the fern’s stems.
How to Keep Indoor Ferns Alive?
Now that you know some of the most popular ferns, the next thing you may want to learn is how to take care of them. What should you do to ensure that your indoor ferns thrive and continue to stay alive?
Here are some of their care requirements:
Of course, one of the first things that your indoor ferns need is sunlight. Note, though, that most indoor ferns are more in favor of bright indirect light, meaning, you have to avoid putting the plants in a spot where direct sunlight can hit them.
If you put them directly under the sun, it may result in the burning of the fronds, which can also make your plant dry and crispy. In most cases a window facing the north or the east is ideal as it can give your ferns enough light.
You will know that your ferns are no longer receiving sufficient sunlight if they turn yellow and no longer grow that much. Supplement the required natural light of your ferns with the help of grow lights. Expose your ferns to these grow lights for several hours daily but remember that it is still preferable to choose bright indirect light.
Well-draining and moist soil
Ferns are among those plants that love the water, so you have to make sure that the soil that they are in is consistently and evenly moist. Make your ferns happy and healthy by watering them thoroughly every time you notice the topmost part of the soil drying out.
Ensure that you do not overwater, though. It is ideal to give your ferns moist soil but do not make it constantly soggy as it may only lead to plant injury and stimulate fungal or bacterial infection.
If you are using a pot, ensure that you have a well-draining soil. While the ferns are not extremely picky when it comes to the soil you use, there is a high chance for their roots to not survive if they are wet all the time. Use a potting mix that drains well if you decide to pot your ferns.
The best indoor ferns do not need constant and regular pruning. However, in those instances when you wish to keep the shape and size of your plant under control, pruning it one to two times every year is the best thing to do.
This is also a good thing especially if you want to monitor your ferns for dying or dead fronds. It allows you to remove those when necessary through pruning. Pruning is also highly recommended if you notice your plant looking sick with a kind of disease. Prune the affected foliage to prevent it from spreading to the remaining parts of the plant.
What About Outdoor Ferns?
If you are also interested in growing outdoor ferns, aside from those that you can take care of indoors and put in containers and hanging baskets, here are some of your best choices:
This outdoor fern variety can grow glossy leathery fronds in dark shades of green. You need to give it well-draining and constantly moist soil to ensure that it continues to live well. However, there is also a high chance for it to grow in conditions that are less than ideal. It can maintain its vigorous and green foliage for a significant period of time.
This particular fern is wide and tall and boasts a very distinctive look in the sense that it creates a net-like and feathery fronds’ pattern through the veins. This variety is also compact and showcases several rosettes of fronds that are glossy and dark green. The good thing about them is that when established, they can handle full sun provided they receive sufficient amounts of water.
Otherwise called the flowering fern, this variety features pinking fronds that come out during the spring. You can then expect them to turn bright green later on. One ability of the royal fern is that it can produce brown or copper fertile flower spikes. It can also survive the full sun if it receives plenty of moisture daily.
Many consider the ostrich fern as the most enchanting among all the fern varieties that can be grown and cultivated outdoors. It has long fronds that look feather-like and can be likened to the feathers of the tail of an ostrich. You need to water it regularly to ensure that its soil stays moist without making it soggy.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What type of fern grows on trees?
Ferns that grow and live on trees are those called epiphytes. You can expect them to grow even if you do not feed them. Epiphytes utilize other plant species, such as tall trees, so they can access the light, nutrients, and moisture they need.
What is the most delicate fern?
One of the most delicate ferns you can grow right now is the five-finger maidenhair. It is a deciduous fern that can reach a size of thirty inches tall and wide.
Are ferns tropical plants?
Yes. While the fern plants grow and thrive in tropical climates, it is still possible to grow them in households and places that are not tropical. You just have to provide them with everything they need for healthy and proper growth.
What are the largest ferns?
The Norfolk or smooth tree fern. It is known as the largest species of fern worldwide.
What is the easiest fern to take care of?
The lemon button fern. You can easily grow it indoors as it can easily cope in various environments and conditions, especially dry and warm.
What is the ideal soil mix that you can use for indoor ferns?
It would be best to get a soil mix specifically designed for ferns. Buy a commercial one or create your own by mixing a rich compost with peat moss and sand. You may also use sphagnum moss in the mix.
Do you need to prepare specific tools to grow ferns?
Yes. To ensure that your chosen indoor ferns will grow happily, prepare a pot and tray that can retain moisture, well-draining soil that is specific to ferns, and sharp shears that you can use for pruning.
You may also need to use a watering can and a fertilizer based on the specific variety or type of fern you are growing.
The best indoor ferns are indeed among the most amazing plants you can grow indoors. Most ferns are also very beautiful, making them capable of adding elegance and style to your household or in any other spot you put them. It is also possible to grow fern plants in various places, like in pots and hanging baskets.