How to grow and care for ferns

ferns ferns plants

Ferns are one of the more delicate plant species that the average gardener may decide to master growing. Though there are thousands of varieties of ferns, only a few are suitable for growing inside. Regardless of whether ferns are grown indoors or out, it’s important to keep in mind that ferns are more susceptible to rot, overwatering, and insects than other plants due to their delicate nature.

Just a few simple tips will keep your fern happy and healthy for years to come.

Finding and growing your fern

Check out your local nursery to see what types of ferns are native to your area. Talk to a nursery worker to find out how to care for the ferns you are interested in to optimize their growth. Ferns are very delicate so you must educate yourself before purchasing your fern.

Where to grow your fern

If you plan to grow your fern in a container, try to stay away from plastic pots because they don’t allow for proper drainage or release of salts. This is key to growing healthy ferns. Clay pots or hanging baskets lined with sphagnum moss work the best.

Your fern will thrive in locations where there is lots of indirect light with high humidity. Don’t put them in full sun where they will bake all day, but rather a hidden corner where the sun doesn’t shine directly. Locate a place in your garden that is shaded from direct sun but where you will also be able to enjoy your ferns all year round.

Don’t over water your fern!

Don’t fall into the trap of overwatering your plant. As the number one cause of plant death, ferns find themselves at a higher risk because they typically grow on rocks or pebbles or more shallow soil than most other plants.

It’s extremely important not to let your fern sit in water or you run the risk of your fern rotting. Most ferns like to be kept moist but not wet. If you keep your fern indoors, don’t let the soil dry out before water like you would with many houseplants. Ferns that are left to dry out will quickly brown and die.

To mist or not to mist your fern

Some experts recommend misting your ferns with water daily to keep them moist. However, other experts recommend placing the pot on gravel in a saucer full of water, always keeping the plant above the water line to maintain the humidity level that your fern thrives on. The more delicate the fern is, the more you will want to steer towards the saucer method to keep your fern from rotting from the excess water you would be misting it with.


There are a few insects that your fern is most susceptible to including aphids, mealybugs, thrips, and scale. A basic fertilizer should take care of most insects. Misting your fern with soapy water every few weeks can eliminate scale. If your fern received many visitors like snails, use snail baits to get rid of them.

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