Ultimate Fern Care Guide - Tips, Tricks and everything in-between
Ferns are an incredibly popular houseplant but do get an unfair reputation for being a high maintenance and fussy houseplant. We believe no plant collection is complete without a fern and with over 10,000 different species of ferns to choose from there’s every excuse to have more than just one! We’re here with our best tips and tricks on fern care to help yours thrive.
Ferns, like many tropical plants, tend to be found in warm and humid climates. The Boston Fern growers in the Caribbean, South America and Polynesia. This fern usually grows in partial water and is usually seen growing near swamps and marshes where they have access to water all day long. With this in mind, the ideal environment for a fern would be a humid room with indirect light/partially sheltered light with regular watering. It's good to keep your fern away from any radiators, underfloor heating or drafts that could upset their foliage and cause their fond to droop or drop.
How to water a Fern?
Watering is the key to keeping a fern happy. All species of ferns hate their soil to dry out and would prefer to be kept evenly moist at all times. You might notice some brown tips or fonds if your fern is not getting enough water. The conditions in your home will very much dictate how often you water. Ferns that are placed in a medium/low light space are going to need watering a lot less compared to a fern in a bright room full of natural light. In the winter you should consider reducing your ferns' watering schedule. During this season many ferns will slow their growth rate down and will use less energy and by extension less water.
The best way to know when to water your fern would be to feel the top of the soil and first inch of soil to get a sense of the moisture levels. If the first inch of soil feels bone dry then it's time to water.
Top tip: Ferns can be a bit sensitive to the tap water in your home so it’s best to use filtered, bottled or rain water.
How much light does a Fern need?
Ferns like bright and indirect light, but I’m sure you’re wondering what does that actually mean? For your ferns to thrive it’s very important that they’re kept out of direct sunlight because this will burn and dry out their foliage causing it to brown and drop. It’s also best to avoid a bright conservatory or south-facing window as this light will be too harsh for your fern.
Place your fern about a metre away from an east or west-facing window or next to a north-facing window (because north-facing windows naturally receive less direct sunlight). Another location would be a bathroom with a frosted window which creates filtered light. That’s the perfect place for your fern to thrive.
Top tip: If you’re planning on being away from your home for a long period of time, move your fern to a darker part of your home so with less natural light your fern will need less watering.
Humidity for Ferns
Ferns have a reputation of loving high humidity and they can be a bit sensitive if the humidity isn’t high enough. You might notice their fonds turning brown if the humidity isn't high enough. Increasing the humidity in your home is easy and you can find an entire blog on it here.
Keeping your fern in the bathroom or near a humidifier are the two easiest ways to keep those brown fonds at bay. It’s very important to keep your fern out of direct sunlight because this will dry out the air and cause the humidity to decrease.
Top tip: Avoid misting your ferns. While it can increase humidity for a short amount of time, it's not a consistent solution to increasing humidity and could lead to mould and bacteria problems down the line.
Do you need to fertilise Ferns?
Like the majority of houseplants, ferns love a boost of nutrients which will eventually lead to beautiful and healthy, new growth. The growth season is usually between March-September and we recommend fertilising your fern with our fortifying houseplant fertiliser once a month in the spring and summer months.
Fertilising for the first time can be a bit daunting so we recommend always using half the recommended strength when you’re first starting out. As each month goes on you can then increase the dosage to the recommended amount. This will also help your plant adjust to the flood of nutrients it is receiving.
Top tip: Natural fertilisers like egg shells, broccoli water and banana peels can be used all year ‘round and the ferns will love it!
Why is my Fern dying?
Troubleshooting your fern:
Troubleshooting your fern is easy when you know what to look for. Ferns will naturally react to their surroundings and if something is wrong, they will tell you about it. Knowing what your plant is saying to you is a good way of making sure your fern stays happy and healthy.
Crispy/brown tips -
The most common problem people have with ferns is brown or crispy fonds. This can happen for a few reasons. Commonly, this is from under watering. As soon as the top soil or first inch of soil is dry then it’s time to water again. Another common reason is from lack of humidity. Keep your fern in a bathroom, next to a humidifier or even on top of a humidifier to increase humidity levels around the plant.
Lower yellow leaves -
This is common in most plants and it's very often because the fond has reached the end of its life cycle. It's honestly nothing to worry about. If this happens often then it might be worth reducing your watering schedule or using a smaller volume of water.
Drooping foliage -
This happens when the fern is not receiving enough light. You might also see some yellow streaks or spots on the foliage which is also from not enough light. Place the fern close to a window but nowhere where there is direct sunlight.
Paling leaves -
Paling leaves are a sign that the fern has had too much light and the fonds are losing colour from the excessive amount. Keep your ferns away from any big windows that let in a lot of direct light.
Ferns are tropical beauties that deserve a prime spot in your bathroom to be enjoyed everyday. Check out our fern Hamish the boston fern and make sure you’re following us on Instagram, Tiktok and Pinterest where we post plant care tips daily. We hope our tips and tricks will help you take care of your beautiful fern and feel free to DM us on instagram if you have any questions about Hamish the fern.