Although they are not loaded with flowers or covered with textured leaves, houseplant ferns can be very rewarding to grow. They thrive in bright, low-light conditions, come in a wide variety of types, and help create a more pleasant environment in a room.
The key to growing ferns as houseplants is to think about where they thrive outdoors in nature. Ferns like to be kept out of direct sunlight but in a brightly lit area. Many ferns are used to growing as understory plants on the forest floor. They are often found near streams or in moist areas. They like high humidity. If you can mimic these conditions, you can prevent your asparagus fern’s needles from dropping or your Boston fern’s leaves from turning yellow during winter. Often a bathroom where you take regular showers provides good humidity. Another option is grouping plants together and placing them on pebble trays filled with water to increase the humidity. There’s always the option of running a humidifier in winter to keep the atmosphere moist.
To grow healthy ferns, keep the soil well-drained and moist. Fertilize only monthly in winter, and fertilize weekly with a diluted plant food during the growing season. Here are some common ferns to grow in your home:
Boston Fern: The most popular houseplant fern, this common plant is available in new varieties, including some with frilly fronds and some with golden-colored fronds.
Asparagus Fern: This arching fern has many tiny branchlets that give the plant a finely textured look. It is more tolerant of drier indoor conditions than other ferns. It may need dividing every few years to keep it thriving.
Maidenhair Fern: This delicate fern has small fronds and finely textured, attractive black stems.
Bird’s Nest Fern: This slow-growing fern features unusual thick leaves arranged in a circle, creating a vase or “bird’s nest” shape.
Rabbit’s Foot Fern: This unique slow-growing fern has finely textured, dark green fronds with fuzzy stems. It’s the stems that resemble a rabbit’s foot.