Growing Ferns (Houseplants and Annuals)

Tropical Ferns are splendid garden plants where nighttime temperatures are above 60°F, and they make excellent houseplants as well. They require only filtered light and moderate humidity to grow well indoors.

Light: Tropical Ferns grow best in filtered or indirect light. An east- or north-facing window is ideal.

Humidity: Most houseplants are native to tropical or subtropical regions of the world, where relative humidity is typically very high. They suffer in the dry air produced by furnaces and woodstoves. The best way to increase the humidity around your plants is to run a humidifier nearby. You can also set plants in trays filled with pebbles or gravel. Add water to a level just below the tops of the pebbles (if the potting mix in the pots comes in contact with the water, the mix will draw water into the pot, which will cause the mix to become saturated, eventually leading to rot). Refill trays frequently to replace water lost through evaporation. (Our Humiditrays perform the same function without the need for pebbles.)

Fertilizer: During the growing season (generally April into September) fertilize potted plants once a month using a houseplant formula mixed at 1/2 strength. Withhold fertilizer in fall and winter, when most plants rest.

Growing Ferns as Annuals

Ferns are valuable for their graceful arching stems and foliage. They add fullness and texture to annual container collections and are popular in hanging baskets or containers indoors and out.

Light/Watering: Grow in partial shade and water when the top inch of soil is dry.

Fertilizer/Soil and pH: Use a soil-based potting mix and apply a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly throughout the growing season (April to September).

Pests/Diseases: If spider mites or aphids find your plant, treat with an insecticidal soap spray, such as Safer's.

Companions: Combine with flowering annuals such as Petunias, Lantana, and Verbena to provide a soft texture to a container collection.

End-of-Season Care: In all but the mildest winter climates (plants are hardy to Zone 9 [20°F]), bring plants indoors before frost and overwinter in bright indirect light in a cool room. Water sparingly in winter. Set back outdoors after the danger of frost has passed in spring.

For more information on planting and care of annuals, click here.

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