Maintaining Healthy Ferns

fern frond
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Ferns are beautiful and delicate plants that come in thousands of varieties. They are fairly easy to grow but they are susceptible to root rot, over watering, and insect infestation. If you wish to grow ferns indoors, great care must be taken because the indoor varieties of fern are the most delicate of all. However, if you’re planting ferns outdoors make sure to choose a variety that is well suited for your climate and it should grow quite well without problem.

1. General Light and Watering Requirements


All ferns can adapt to areas of heavy shade but they can also thrive in full sun. Therefore, lighting should not be worried about unless you’re planting a variety with specific requirements. Ferns should be watered regularly if outdoor rainwater is insufficient. Mulch the base of the ferns with two or three inches of compost and/or leaf litter to keep roots dark and damp during drought season. Avoid over-watering! Over watering your fern will quickly kill it by causing the roots to rot. Plan on watering your fern after the top two inches of soil have completely dried out.

2. General Soil and Fertilizer Requirements

Almost all ferns grow well in soil that is high in organic matter but also drains very well. Ferns should not sit in muddy sopping wet soil; their roots will quickly disintegrate and kill the plant. Look for soil that has a moderately high nutrient content with moderate drainage. You want soil that will drain without completely drying out. Ferns are highly sensitive to fertilizer; apply fertilizer once during spring when new growth begins to emerge. It is best to use a slow release fertilizer on top of the soil at the base of the plant. Supplementing ferns with rich compost and leaf litter will give them all the nutrients that they need to grow strong and maintain health.

3. General Methods of Division and Transplanting


When the center of the fern is bare, or the fern fronds appear to be smaller your fern plant is ready to be divided. Simply use a sharp shovel to dig into the center of the fern plant. Take out a section of the fern that is about six inches deep, wide, and long. Plant this new fern at the same depth as the mother plant and water it in. Ferns are extremely slow to send out new growth after being transplanted. You may begin to think that you have killed your fern however; this is likely an inaccurate assumption. Allow the new fern to acclimate to its surroundings at least two years before determining whether or not it is a viable plant.

Whether you decide to grow ferns indoors or outdoors, they are an excellent species of plant to grow. With their lively foliage and jungle-like appearance they are likely to become one of your favorite plants in your garden. Since ferns come in all shapes and sizes, research which fern is best suited to grow in your specific climate for best results.