Ferns are one of the oldest plants in the world. They can thrive well in various kinds of environments. According to the American Fern Society there are about 12,000 species of ferns that range from tropical varieties to cold hardy ones. The size ranges from monstrous tree ferns to miniature types. Ferns are used as houseplants too. If they have to grow successfully they need to follow certain conditions.
1. Humidity is important
Most of the popular ferns used as houseplants cannot tolerate dry conditions. The fronds turn brown quickly and begin to shed leaves. So mist the fern whenever possible especially in the morning.
2. Avoid ferns drying out
Ensure that your fern is well hydrated. Most of the varieties are used to the loamy soil and the leaf litter that gets collected in the branches. Avoid too much water and remember to keep it moist.
3. Light is necessary
Ferns are shade plants. They are more adapted to the sunlight from the forest. Ensure that the fern gets enough sunlight. Some varieties may not withstand the midday sun. They may turn brown quickly.
4. Food for the fern
In the forests, the ferns survive on the steady supply of decaying organic matter. In the growing season, you have to supply some weak fertilizer and other kinds of necessary nutrients. The ferns will grow well and look extremely lush and beautiful.
Buying indoor ferns
When you are buying ferns for indoor purpose, you have to consider various factors like the humidity condition, lighting factor etc. You can choose from low-maintenance varieties or high-end types that require special care. Fern varieties that require very little care are bird’s nest fern, Japanese holly fern, brake fern or rabbit’s foot fern. Visit a local nursery that has different varieties. While buying, examine the plant properly for spider mites infestation, mealy bugs or scales. Check frond damage also. Buy plants that are healthy and do not contain brown leaves. Before buying you need to prepare your home for the plant. Identify a good spot to keep the plant where it can get the required amount of lighting, has low traffic etc. Follow the instructions properly to ensure proper growth.
Tips for fern care
a) Plant the fern in well drained and friable soil. Most of the ferns are well adapted to this kind of soil.
b) The soil should not be soggy or poorly drained. Mulching helps drainage and conditions the soil over time.
c) Line the hole of the pan with even small stones and compost to improve the condition of the soil and drainage.
d) After placing the fern, mix both soil and compost to fill the hole. For heavy kinds of soil dig tiny channels from the hole to the soil drain.
e) Select an area that has dappled sunlight or partially shady. Some varieties may need more sunlight. However, most of them do not like heavily shaded areas.
f) During winter use newspapers or frost cover to protect the fronds overnight. This is very important for young plants.
g) Cold hard varieties are good for winter when compared to other varieties. Ferns are usually dormant in winter.
h) Sometimes you may over water the pants. In such cases you will see the browning of the fronds. Sometime they even get black patches.
i) Avoid pouring too much water if there is water in the pan. During winter you will require very little water for hydrating.
j) Some varieties like Matteuccia struthiopteris, Adiatum aethopicum and Athyrium otophorum are deciduous. They turn yellow and die quickly in winter. But they grow well in summer.
k) In summer it is good to mulch around the ferns. Water them well at least once a weak instead of simply misting them.
l) Pests strike in summer. Most of the ferns are very sensitive to pesticides. So use only half strength Pyrethrum or Orthene. If it is the thrips then you may have to cut the infested fronds to protect the plants.
m) Select an area that has dappled sunlight or partially shady. Some varieties may need more sunlight. However, most of them do not like heavily shaded areas.
n) During winter use newspapers or frost cover to protect the fronds overnight. This is very important for young plants.
o) Cold hard varieties are good for winter when compared to other varieties. Ferns are usually dormant in winter.