Help Caring For My Fern Plants

I love ferns and have quite a few. Yesterday I bought some “out of the ordinary ferns” and was hoping you could give me some care tips on how to grow and care for them. Thanks in advance, Mindy

Hi Mindy,

Beautiful ferns, hope these care tips help you care for them and that they thrive in your home.

You can tell that this first fern is a Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum)) because of its silvery bluish fronds and reddish stems. Japanese painted ferns like bright indirect lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light. but no direct sun. These plants do not need much plant food. Use a balanced liquid fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small.   diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength monthly when the plant is actively growing. It’s best to keep the soil of a Japanese Painted Fern moist but not soggy at all times. Use a potting mix that has some organic matter which makes it a rich soil, but be sure it still drains quickly.

This next fern is called a Japanese Holly Fern. (Cyrtomium). Holly Ferns need less humidity and less care that other indoor ferns. They like bright indirect light but no sun. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Do not use water that has chemicals in it because it damages the leaves. Holly Ferns prefer warm temperatures: 65-80°F/18-27°C.  Feed monthly from April through September when it is actively growing. Use a well balanced liquid plant fertilizer diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. The potting soil should retain water but still drain quickly.

Fluffy Ruffle Fern is a type of Boston fern, but is more compact and less messy. Like most indoor ferns it likes bright indirect lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light., though it can survive in lower light. Keep the soil barely moist and be sure there are drip holes in the bottom of the pot so excess water can escape. High humidity keeps the fronds looking good. Feed monthly from late spring through autumn, never feed in the winter. Always dilute your plant food to 1/3-1/4 the recommended strength.

Foxtail Fern: This fern is a relative of the more common Asparagus Fern and is a member of the lily family. It likes bright lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light. but no direct sun. Water well until the excess water comes out the drip holes in the bottom of the pot. Allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering again to prevent root rot. In the winter, allow the soil to dry out even more but never allow the soil to totally dry out. Feed monthly from late spring through autumn, never feed in the winter. Always dilute your plant food 1/3-1/4 the recommended strength. Average room temperatures 60-75°F/16-24°C. Likes high humidity if possible.