2021 Fern Care Guide

2021 Fern Care Guide

Your Complete Guide to Caring for Ferns!

Ferns are one of the most recognizable plants you see in homes and offices, and not just because they’re in every scene of Jurassic Park. Their lush appearance and densely populated stems give it an enchanting look that welcomes all guests with an amazing sight. Caring for most ferns is fairly simple, so new plant parents should rejoice!


Ferns like to be moist, but not saturated or dry. They do not tolerate drought well! Water when the top inch is dry, which you can figure out by using a moisture meter or poking your finger into the dirt up to your first knuckle. This means you will end up watering at least weekly during the spring and summer, but cut back slightly during the fall/winter. Use a moisture meter to measure closely if you are having water issues.

Light and humidity

Ferns looooooove high humidity and to be kept in moist – not soggy – soil. Don’t let it dry out between waterings or it will start crisping at the edges! Misting your plant every day or two will help with maintaining higher humidity levels. Another option is to place your fern on a tray filled with pebbles. Add water to the bottom of the tray, enough to cover the pebbles but not so much that the plant is sitting in the water. This will add additional humidity.

They also like bright, indirect light, though they are able to adapt to lower light. Too much light will burn their delicate fronds. These plants are used to growing under the canopy of larger trees and shrubs in a humid environment, so keep away from any dry areas – such as under a heating vent or by a fireplace that is used regularly. If your fern is suffering from too little light, it will tell you by shriveling up and turning yellow.

fern unfurling

Soil and fertilizer

Keep your fern in clean, well-draining soil, the same as you would with any other plant. Since they prefer to be slightly moist, it is imperative that the soil drains well, otherwise it can lead to root rot. Make sure to empty the drainage tray of the pot, too, so it is not left standing in water.

Fertilize monthly with a regular houseplant fertilizer diluted with water – they do not like too much power! The Tres 20 Sauce Fertilizer (Plant Food) is an organic fertilizer created specifically for houseplants. It’s fortified with the ideal blend of minerals for steady healthy growth in your houseplants. The 20-20-20 blend consists of the Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus. Dilute one teaspoon of plant food in one liter of water and use in your normal watering routine every two weeks.

Cleaning and pruning

Clean the leaves of your fern by gently misting them with water. Pruning encourages new growth, and is something you should be regularly anyway for maintenance. Simply use clean, sharp scissors to cut the stems at the soil line.


Ferns can be propagated from cuttings placed directly into soil, making them simple to grow. For an added boost, you can dip the edge of the stems into a growth hormone before potting. This helps to increase the likelihood of the cutting adapting to the new environment. Remember, rooting doesn’t happen overnight so give your new plant babe some time to adjust and grow!



Ferns don’t need to be repotted frequently, so look to increase their space only every 18-24 months. Try to repot during the spring or summer, during the growing season. You can tell it needs to be repotted when water start running straight through it when you water – this means that it is rootbound and there is very little dirt left!

Gently extract the plant from its current container and then put it in one 1-3” larger in diameter. Add more dirt, and you are set!


Ferns are an easy way to add lush green foliage to your space with minimal effort and watering. Remember: ferns need additional humidity, so you may even wish to add a tray with pebbles and water underneath it to keep it happy. The best part? Many fern varieties are pet-friendly and non-toxic!

For more information, check out this blog! Shop our ferns: autumn fern, maidenhair fern, and more here!

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Caroline Swaim
Caroline Swaim
1 year ago

When can I repot the maiden hair fern after I receive it?

Daniel Kilbarger
Daniel Kilbarger
1 year ago

What ferns can I plant outside here in Ohio I think we are Zone 4 and 5

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