How To Care For Ferns

garden of ferns

How To Look After Ferns

Ferns are very popular plants, in interior and exterior spaces, in the garden or inside your house – so how do we look after them?

The plants are actually pre-historic, scientists think that ferns were the staple diet for dinosaurs! There are thousands of different types and they can be sparse or very dense, spindly or thick. Having said this the treatment for all ferns species is pretty similar. Broadly speaking, ferns are quite self sufficient but there are a number of standard steps to follow which will ensure the plat thrives and matures.

Put A Fern In The Right Placeshady fern

Ferns are somewhat sun shy, they suffer from a mild case of photo-phobia! Find a a shady place where the fern will get a little bit of sunshine, perhaps facing to the north, a planting area directly facing south is a big no no! You want the suns rays to lightly touch the plant not fry it alive all day. The fern in the wild grows much better in shaded areas.

Make The Atmosphere In And Around The Fern Humid

Ferns like moisture in the air, they like it humid, they like it wet. So how do we artificially create a humid atmosphere in your suburban garden? Well, there are mainly two strategies. The first is to use 2 pots, one inside the other. Plant your fern in a ceramic pot then place this planted pot into another garden container that is slightly larger. Place sodden thick moss into the 2nd pot and keep it wet, also cover the top of both containers with soil. Check this natural humidifier every few days and keep the top surface soil wet. Secondly, you could use a humidifier placed next to the ferns, but of course this will cost money to run.

humid helmet

Don’t Vary The Temperature Levels

As nearly all the ferns that are sold for indoor use are originally from the tropics, cold or oscillating temperatures will kill them. Make sure the average temperature does not fall outside a 5 degree tolerance and that the median is about 70 degrees centigrade. Pretty much all ferns will expire if the temperature plummets below sixty degrees

One place in your home that is great for ferns is the bathroom where it is often humid and warm!

Keep Water Levels Constant

As you have probably realized by now, ferns are thirsty chaps so keep them well watered. This does not mean just the humidity but the earth that the fern is planted in must not be dry but not waterlogged – if you can leave an imprint of your hand in the soil with light pressure than that is wet enough! We suggest top ups rather than an over soaking.

Should You Feed A Fern

Yes, monthly feeding should be more than adequate. We recommend  a tree fern fertilizer like this one from Thompson & Morgan. You could visit your local home and garden store, garden centre or gardening department store but it’s so much easier to order online! Potting soil will deplete after a while so if you feed the fern the plant will be healthier and eventually more vigorous – you do not want a skinny fern! Maybe wait at least 4 months before you start with the fertilizer.

Throw Away Any Dead or Poor Bits

Remove all the dead, dying or dodgy parts so the rest of the plant is vigorous – just like pruning a vine which makes the grapes better.

Move The Plant To Another Pot

After say a year it is good idea to re-pot your fern. Disease can establish itself in the soil and it is recommended that you use new soil eventually which introduces natural nutrients. Also your plant is growing (hopefully) and you do not want your fern to be pot bound. If the root system is allowed to become too dense any plant eventually strangles itself.

There you have it, so good luck and we hope your fern stays firm!