Ferns As Houseplants, A Beautiful Display

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Consider These Ferns As Houseplants

Should you consider ferns as houseplants for your home? If you can meet their needs, you may find ferns make incredible decor for your home. However, for sunnier locations, you might need to consider one of the sun-loving houseplants.
 
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Boston Fern

As with any plant, knowing its native environment and needs helps to provide the best growth and longevity. Ferns often grow in very shady, damp areas. They depend on the shade from other plants and trees to block the direct sunlight.  However, ferns do need some sun to produce their nutrients. Unlike some fungi and moss, they cannot grow in total darkness. 
 
They typically inhabit wet or marshy areas, although some live in trees. Our homes often don’t meet the humidity levels these frond-bearers boast. However, with a little innovation and care, even a dry environment may host fern plants.
 
Gardeners, both indoor and out, cherish these plants with their interesting foliage and lush, green growth pattern. With so many varieties of ferns to choose from, you might wonder which one best suits your home.
 
To help you answer that, we offer a few of our favorite varieties. Our selections offer great decorative value in an easy to care for houseplant. Which one will you choose? Or perhaps you add several to your home.

Let’s look at a few possible ferns as houseplants

 

Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium genus)

fern houseplant
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Birds Nest Fern

With their lack of feathery foliage, bird’s nest ferns look less like a fern than some of the others. However, these true ferns showcase themselves in quite an interesting fashion. Named for the way their new fronds grow, Bird’s Nest Fern’s babies emerge from the center of the plant and grow outwards This creates the image of a bird’s nest.

The many varieties of the Bird’s Nest Ferns all do well in indirect light. Unlike most other ferns, they generally tolerate dry soil. However, you should never let it dry out completely. Also, they don’t require high humidity levels. This makes them a splendid choice for any fern admirer who cannot provide the humid air most ferns require.

 

 

Button fern (Pellaea rotundifolia)

Button Fern Houseplant
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Button Fern

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The Button Fern provides another option for fern lovers to keep in homes with less humidity. In fact, these ferns prefer dryer conditions. Overwatering or keeping in too high a humidity zone will cause the fronds to turn brown and eventually die.

With the need for lower moisture and humidity, button ferns are considered one of the easiest types to grow. While other ferns need daily misting, your button fern will happily adorn your home with less care and fussing.

Provide well-drained soil, bright indirect light, and allow the soil to dry slightly before watering and your fern will provide years of decor. Further, keep in mind that the button fern does not appreciate extremely low temperatures. Keep them cozy in your home with you!

For many homes, these might be considered the ideal ferns as houseplants.

 

 

 

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)

When most of us think of a fern as a houseplant, the Boston Fern might come to mind first. And rightfully so.

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Boston Fern

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The Boston Fern provides a gorgeous display as a tabletop or hanging plant. Start with a small plant and provide proper care and you will soon have an incredible beauty.

This fern flourishes in higher humidity and plenty of indirect light. Perhaps you have a bathroom or kitchen window that provides a perfect host place for your fern.

But if not, you still may keep these elegant ferns. Just provide extra humidity by misting it well each day. You might also keep it on a humidity tray or near a humidifier.

Keep the soil evenly wet, but not waterlogged. The Boston Fern likes moisture but the roots may rot if kept too wet.

 

PET_LOVERS NOTE:  While many pet owners don’t keep ferns as houseplants due to the possibility of their pets getting poisoned, the Boston Fern is considered pet-friendly, not toxic.

 

 

Blue Star Fern (Phlebodium aureum)

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Blue Star Fern

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While similar to the more popular Kangaroo Paw Fern, Microsorum diversifolium , the Blue Star Fern sports decorative blueish-green paw-shaped fronds. And unlike most ferns which naturally grow in soil, the Blue Star Fern grows in trees as an epiphyte. This means that while they grow in the tree, they are not parasitic. The Blue Star Fern does no harm to its host.

To closely mimic the natural habitat, provide a moist environment with medium indirect lighting. Your fern will need a well-drained loose soil such as orchid bark to feel comfortable at your home. Given these parameters, your Blue Star Fern will provide years of happy co-existance.

 

 

 

Holly Fern (Cyrtomium falcatum)

ferns as houseplants
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Holly Fern

Similar to the real holly plant, the Holly Fern displays decorative shiny fronds. While they thrive in a humid environment with moist soil, these ferns offer a bit more resilience than some other varieties. In fact, they survive some drier periods of time, though cannot thrive for long that way.

To keep the humidity level up, you should mist daily and consider using a humidity tray or stones. Some people find that placing multiple plants close together helps retain the humidity, too.

The Holly Fern tolerates a little more sun and lower temperatures than many other ferns, too. Thus, they are known to be easier to keep than some other varieties.

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Braken Fern (Pteridium genus)

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Braken Fern

Braken Fern fronds look similar to those of the Blue Star Fern, with thin stalks and broad leaves. However, one difference stands out, the color. While Blue Star Ferns show blueish coloring, Brake Ferns found in garden stores often feature a beautiful variegation in the form of dark green coloration on the outside of the leaves with a creamy light green color on the inner parts.

Like most ferns, Brake Ferns require a high humidity level and moist soil. However, they tolerate a little drying out for a short time. Thus, you should consider a humidity tray and daily misting to maintain them at their best. Additionally, they prefer a bright, indirect lighting to keep them happy.

However, they don’t grow well in lower temperatures. If you choose to put them outside during the summer months, make sure you bring them in before the temperatures begin to drop.

Note: Some call this the Brake Fern.

 

 

 

Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum genus)

For those looking for more of a challenge, the beautiful Maidenhair Fern steps up. 

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Maidenhair Fern

Like most ferns, they prefer medium indirect lighting but the Maidenhair has no tolerance for direct sun. However, the main challenge remains in keeping them moist enough. Without needed moisture and humidity, they quickly drop fronds and fall ill.

To meet the challenge, consider keeping your fern in a humid bathroom or near a humidifier. Provide a moisture-retaining soil but don’t allow it to become soggy.

With proper care, this plant might well become your favorite among the fern group. Their lacy fronds, when properly cared for, decorate in style.

 

 

 

So Many Choices of Ferns as Houseplants

And indeed, once you host one type of fern, you will no doubt want to add more. Many fern keepers grow a variety of ferns indoors. Some also choose to keep a few outdoor varieties, if they have garden space. 

We’d like to hear your experience with keeping ferns in your home. Please leave a comment below. Photos welcome, too!

22 Comments

  1. Amera Borg

    Fantastic introduction to indoor plants Diane ! I am definetly not a green thumb and yes I also can probably be accused of killing a plastic plant or 2 ! I am going to experiment with the fern , it sounds like myself and fern might have a few things in common and might survive each other. I am in Australia , but i will pop down to my local and take the list of ferns you suggested and see what they have . Thankyou for your post !

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks, Amera! I look forward to hearing of your plant experiences. Please visit again soon.

      Reply
  2. Amera

    Hi Diane, i have left a comment on your site . Great and easy to navigate website , thankyou so much for a great article .

    Fantastic introduction to indoor plants Diane ! I am definitely not a green thumb and yes I also can probably be accused of killing a plastic plant or 2 ! I am going to experiment with the fern , it sounds like myself and fern might have a few things in common and might survive each other. I am in Australia , but i will pop down to my local and take the list of ferns you suggested and see what they have . Thank you for your post !

    Reply
    • Diane

      Thanks for visiting Amera. Yes, a fern, especially one of the easier to care for, might be a good choice for you to start with. I wouldn’t recommend the Maidenhair Fern for your first, unless your home is naturally quite humid. But the others are more manageable.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Please visit again soon. I’d like to hear about your fern experience and see pictures when you bring it home!

      Reply
  3. Joe

    Hello, I’m always looking to spruce my home and I think you have sparked my interest here. I personally was never the type to garden, but over the past few months I have honestly fell in love with taking care of plants. There’s no better feeling than coming home to a beautiful scenery. I just had one question though… Which one of these Fern types would you say requires the least maintenance? I am considering gifting one of these to a fellow friend of mine.

    Joe

    Reply
    • Diane

      Yes, Joe, I agree that houseplants create a welcoming feeling in the home.

      As for the easiest to maintain, that depends on the home environment. For our average homes that are kept at a lower humidity with air conditioning and heat, I’d suggest the Bird’s Nest Fern or the Button Fern. But really, any of the first 6 on my list are not challenging. The Maidenhair Fern is a bit more temperamental and might not be a good choice for a first time fern owner.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Please visit again soon.

      Reply
  4. Dale

    Well you just introduced me to 7 different ferns when all my life I thought a fern was a fern and certainly id not think for a second that there was more than one fern.
    While they are beautiful it almost seems like it would be a lot of work to get you home conducive to growing them from the comfort of your home.
    Do they die in the winter and start over in the summer?  This was a great article and I absolutely learned quite a bit.  Thank you for taking the time to do the research and for sharing.

    Reply
    • Diane

      Yes, many people think of a fern as a fern and often they picture the popular Boston Fern as “the fern.” Some are a bit more work than others, as I described, but once you get into the plant’s routine, their care is not difficult.

      In the home, they grow year-round, though do require some stability in temperature and care.

      I’m glad you enjoyed reading. Please stop back again soon.

      Reply
  5. Tiger Oliver Budd

    i love the simplicity of your website and the information you are giving. I am considering putting plants in my house. And that bonsai? they are amazing and i will invest on one one day because of your article.  It is easy to navigate your site and you provide a valuable content to your readers. Good job!

    Reply
    • Diane

      Thank you for your very nice comments! Bonsai are definitely an interesting plant that often become a hobby on their own. We have an upcoming article planned for them.

      Thanks for visiting and please stop back again soon.

      Reply
  6. Brian Scott Leist

    Thank you so much for the information.  I have a lot of plants in my house and love growing things outside in the spring and summer.  When I bought my house 3 and half years ago, they left a fern.  I still have it.  I have rescued other plants from the trash before.  I respect life and even struggle with pulling weeds sometimes (but it has to be done)

    Right now I am at war with smartweed.  They choke out my grass and are hard to kill.

    I look at some of your other links and did not realize  that about mother’s in law tongue. (i never heard snake plant before… makes sense) I have a friend who is scared of killing plants and I suggested the snake plant… easier to write..lol

    Your blog looks great and very professional.  The content is interesting (if you like plants) and easy to read… with many great tips.

    many blessings… Brian

    Reply
    • Diane

      Thank you for sharing your experiences, Brian. I also sometimes have problems destroying weeds and have to keep in mind that one person’s weed is another’s flower (or food, etc) Since we live on a farm, non-toxic weeds often become food for one of our non-human friends. Toxic weeds can be added to our active compost pile.

      I am very happy you enjoyed your visit to houseplantjoy.com and invite you to stop back again soon!

      Reply
  7. Robert

    I have seen several ferns in homes, but I’ll admit I don’t know the names of the different types of ferns. Your post was informative, and I enjoyed the detail you put into it. The Bird’s Nest Fern looks most appealing to me and for my home. It looks the best for my home in my opinion. Overall, I enjoyed your post.

    Reply
    • Diane

      Thanks for your comments, Robert. Yes, the Bird’s Nest Fern is quite interesting and intriguing. 

      I’m glad you found the article interesting. Please visit again soon.

      Reply
  8. Vasilios

    Excellent layout in your website. You can really tell you have a big passion for for the niche you have choosen.

    My grandmother loves all her plants like they are her children. They have become part of the identity of her house. I know understand more about her fascination with plants and how they can represent more people. Very easy to follow and the colour schemes just add to the organic feel of everything. Keep up the great work and good luck in the future.

    Reply
    • Diane

      Thank you for your comments. I’m glad you enjoyed the article. It’s interesting that our grandmothers are often the ones to introduce us to houseplants. I think part of the reason might be that as we grow a bit older, we develop an appreciation for such things. 

      Thank you for visiting; please stop by again soon.

      Reply
  9. diddydanny

    Hello Diane, thanks for sharing this incredible review with us, it’s really cool. Recent research tells us that houseplants  are good for buildings and people in a variety of subtle ways. Houseplants  plays a vital role in providing a pleasant and tranquil environment in which to move, work or relax. Ferns variety are all incredible and really  beautiful. 

    Reply
    • Diane

      Yes, all good points; thanks for sharing. While we can live without plants in our homes, they definitely have incredible benefits when we include them.

      Thanks for visiting our site; please stop by again soon.

      Reply
  10. osei kwame

    Hello,
    Thank you for this vivid research of Ferns. It is absolutely interesting to know the behavior of these varieties of ferns. I really adore house flowering decors but have little ideas of how beautiful fern can be, if you truly understand it’s character.

    What I want to find out is that, doesn’t it have any health threat when it is placed indoor. Because, I understand that plats share takes in oxygen at night and therefore when placed indoor can affect ones respiratory system. I stand to be corrected though. Thank you once again for this extra ordinary education on ferns

    Reply
    • Diane

      These beautiful plants, as well as others, actually help our health and we in turn help them. Yes, they do take in some oxygen at night, but research shows the total amount to be negligible. However, if you have concerns, it is possible to balance it with plants that release oxygen at night such as the Aloe Vera Plants and the Snake Plant.

      Thank you for mentioning it, however. It is a point of research as people rely on plants for our ongoing oxygen needs.

      Thanks for visiting; please stop by again soon!

      Reply
  11. Dave

    Wow, think I’ve found a new site to bookmark. Looking forward to exploring your articles more fully.  But was wondering if you had any particular reason you didn’t have Matteucia struthiopteris, commonly called Ostrich Fern on your list of house ferns?  I myself like it more because it is one of the edible ferns.

    Reply
    • Diane

      Thanks for your comments, Dave. I agree that the Ostrich Fern is another good choice. It is being planned for an upcoming article so stop back soon for updates! 

      Reply

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