How to Grow Fern Indoors
Part of what will make the process of growing a fern indoors easier is understanding what the plant needs. Ferns are common to tropical climates. They thrive in the filtered light, temperate climate and high humidity of forests. The good news if you want to have a fern as a houseplant is that the growing conditions can easily translate to the indoors. Ferns are recommended as low maintenance houseplants because of their ability to flourish in low light conditions.
Grow Fern Indoors Step 1
Maintain the temperature of the room. Most ferns thrive in an environment that is consistently 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 24 degrees Celsius).
Grow Fern Indoors Step 2
Grow your fern in a plastic pot instead of clay pot. A plastic pot retains moisture better than a clay pot will.
Image titled Grow Fern Indoors Step 3
Provide ferns with appropriate soil. Ferns are found among the greens on a forest floor. The soil there is usually laden with decaying leaves and organic matter. When potting your indoor fern, plant it in soil that has a high organic matter content like a good peat moss mix.
Grow Fern Indoors Step 4
Adjust the lighting.
Ferns prefer indirect light. Daylight coming through a window is adequate. Place the plant in a north or east facing window. The fern may not grow so well in a south or west window, as the light is more intense and can be too harsh for the fronds. Too much light dries the plant out.
Ferns can grow in low-light conditions, but they can not grow in no-light conditions. Ferns that are not getting enough light will have retarded growth and poor color. If your fern is not getting enough light from a nearby window, set up an incandescent light above the plant to shine on it 4 to 6 hours each day.
Grow Fern Indoors Step 5
Make sure your fern is getting the water it needs.
Touch the surface of the soil in the pot. Water a fern when the top of the soil is dry to the touch.
Water a fern until the water starts to run out the holes in the bottom of the pot. You can sit the pot in a sink or bathtub so the excess water can go down the drain.
Do not use softened or treated water to water your fern. This mineral rich water leaves deposits in the soil, eventually causing the roots to rot.
Alter your watering schedule based on the rooms temperature. If the room is warmer than 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 24 degrees Celsius), you will need to water more often. If the room is cooler, wait to water until the soil feels dry when you touch it.
Know the indicators of inappropriate watering. If the plant has too much water, the fronds turn yellow. Wilted fronds indicate too little water.
Grow Fern Indoors Step 6
Increase the humidity around the plant. The humidity around a fern is just as important to the plant as the amount of water at the roots. Ferns like humidity, so the closer you can duplicate the humidity around a steamy, wet forest floor, the happier your fern will be. Fronds turn brown at the ends when humidity is too low.
Create ample space around the plant for air to circulate and allow even distribution of humidity to the foliage.
Put your fern in the bathroom. This tends to be the most humid room in a house.
Set up a humidifier in the same room as the fern.
Place a tray of water near or under the fern. If you place the tray under the pot, make sure the pot does not touch the water. Ensure this by placing decorative rocks in the water to prop the pot on. The water in the tray evaporates, increasing the humidity in the air around the plant.
Spray the fronds of the fern periodically. Use a spray bottle filled with room temperature water to mist the fronds. This not only adds humidity around the plant but also helps keep the leaves of the plant clean and deters pests.
Grow Fern Indoors Step 7
Fertilize lightly during active growing season which is April through September. Fish emulsion makes a good fertilizer. Apply half the amount of fertilizer called for to make a sparse fertilizer solution. Fertilizing too richly can scorch the fronds.
Grow Fern Indoors Step 8
Prune damaged fronds to make the plant appear healthier and to promote plant growth. This can be as extensive as taking out entire fronds near the plant’s core or as simple as snipping dead or damages leaves from the ends of the fronds.
Grow Fern Indoors Step 9
Know how to combat pests. Potential pests are spider mites, scales and mealybugs. Hand pick them from the plant if they appear. You can also spray a direct stream of water on them from a spray bottle.
Grow Fern Indoors Step 10
Divide and re-pot a fern in the spring. This places the fern in a position to spread during the ferns natural active growing season.
Remove the plant from the pot and divide into the desired size at the roots.
Wait 4 to 6 months or until there is noticeable growth to fertilize newly potted ferns.
Grow Fern Indoors Step 11
Start new ferns from seed. This is an optional part of growing ferns. This task is the most labor intensive part for a fern grower and is best reserved for the patient indoor gardener.
Propagate ferns in summer when the conditions are ideal for plant growth.
Collect spores from the plant. During the spring and summer, spots will develop on the bottom of the leaves. These are called spores. When the spores darken, remove the leaf and place it in a paper bag. As the leaf dries, the spores will fall off into the bottom of the bag.
Plant the seeds that fell to the bottom of the bag in peat moss starter soil in small containers. Water them generously.
Place the containers inside a clear plastic bag, and seal the plastic. Keep the temperature between 65 to 70 degrees F (18 to 21 degrees Celsius).
When the small ferns are 1 inch (2.54 cm) tall, transplant them into bigger pots.
At 2 (5 cm) inches tall, transplant the baby ferns into individual pots.