Holly Fern Care – Indoors

How I do take care of a Holly Fern during the winter? It is put indoors because winter gets too cold for it to stay alive outside. It is next to a semi sun window with diffused light. My entire apartment has large overhanging trees that shade the sunlight that reaches the windows and outdoor plants. Thanks!

Hi Pam,


Thick, shiny, green Japanese Holly fern
Holly Fern
Cyrtomium falcatum

Japanese Holly Ferns are great indoor fern plants. They need less humidity and less care that other indoor ferns. Another great feature of Holly Ferns is that their thick, shiny, long dark green fronds don’t shed their little leaflets like some ferns do. Here are some care tips for Japanese Holly Ferns once you bring them indoors.

Light: Holly 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.. Bring them in gradually from the outdoors so that the light difference between the two areas isn’t too sudden.

Water: Try to keep the soil slightly moist at all times. Do not use water that has passed through a softener, too salty, or water that is high in fluoride or chlorine. All of these chemicals will cause brown tips on the beautiful fronds of this plant.

Humidity: Basic household humidity is fine for Holly Ferns.

Temperature: Holly Ferns prefer warm temperatures: 65-80°F/18-27°C.

Soil: Use a good indoor potting soil that retains moisture but still drains quickly.

Plant Food: Feed a Holly Fern monthly from April through September when it is actively growing. Use a well balanced liquid plant 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.