Pteris Cretica 'Albo Fern' indoor fern that's easy to grow indoors.

Are Ferns Easy to Grow Indoors?

Are ferns easy to grow indoors? Well, let me start by pointing out that the fern group has more than 10,500 unique and beautiful ferns species to choose to grow indoors. In this article I’ll share with you whether you’ll have an easy time growing ferns indoors.

Are ferns easy to grow indoors? Ferns can be challenging to grow indoors as they don’t like drafty air or very dry conditions. Once you know what kind of care an indoor fern requires, you can have this plant grow and flourish at home or the office.

If you have more questions about growing ferns indoors, I’ve got answers. Ahead, I’ll elaborate more on whether it’s difficult to grow ferns indoors and talk about whether you can transition outdoor ferns to the indoors. I’ll share my best fern growing tips too, so keep reading! 

Is It Easy to Grow Ferns Indoors?

All plants have a certain degree of difficulty in their care, which may influence your decision to grow them or not. Many of the fern varieties can be difficult plants to care for indoors.

So what is it about the many, many fern species that make them tough to grow indoors? 

It’s a few things, so let’s take a closer look.

Ferns Can Burn Rather Easily

Do you just put your plants in your home or office wherever you have the space, not thinking so much about how much sunlight the plant receives?

That’s not good for any indoor plant, but some plants won’t show it. Ferns will.

Ferns grow long, fragile fronds. It only takes a bit of sun overexposure for your poor fern to burn to a crisp.

Once a portion of your plant has burned like that, it no longer adds nourishment to the plant and no matter how well you care for your fern, you can’t bring burned leaves back to their prior state.

The burned leaves or fronds must be removed from the plant. 

Drafty, Dry Air Can Quickly Kill your Indoor Fern

Do you have a lot of drafty areas at home or the office?

Maybe you think you don’t, but if you looked around, you might realize the room is draftier than you think.

A draft can indeed come from an old window or door, but not exclusively. When you turn on your air conditioner or heater, is the fern being directly blown on by the air exiting the return vent? That counts. 

The parts of the wall running phone lines or cable TV lines can cause drafts, as can wall-mounted air conditioners, attic hatches, fireplace dampers, baseboards, switch plates, and electrical outlets.

You’d have to keep your fern far away from all the above.

It’s not only air drafts the fern can’t handle, but dry air as well. 

When ferns grow natively around the world, it’s usually in tropical environments or moist swamps where a fern can receive at least 70 percent humidity if not more. 

Then you buy a fern and put it in your living room or on your office desk. The fern is receiving maybe 50 percent humidity at most, but it’s more like 30 or 40 percent.

It’s no wonder so many ferns die when grown indoors!

Ferns Don’t Like Temperature Fluctuations

Another reason that so many types of ferns are challenging to grow indoors is due to their distaste for temperature fluctuations.

These fluctuations don’t even have to be overly dramatic either. For example, if your office is only heated during work hours, then your fern will likely be cold in the morning, warm all day, and then very cold again after working hours at night.

That amount of temperature changes is often more than an indoor fern can handle. 

Can Outdoor Ferns Grow Indoors?

Perhaps you had been growing a fern outdoors or you had a friend who was, and they gave the fern to you. 

You’d prefer to grow the plant inside the safety of your home now. Can you?

Yes, you can! This transfer from living outdoors to indoors is especially easy in the winter.

Ferns don’t have much of a cold tolerance, so once the temperatures dip below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s usually too cold for many fern species.

What some gardeners will do then is take their ferns inside for the winter. Then, in the spring, they’d place them back outside.

You can do that, or you can keep your formerly outdoor fern permanently inside. It’s up to you! 

How to Keep Ferns Alive Indoors

Part of making indoor fern care easier is knowing what these plants require and then striving to always maintain optimal plant care conditions for your fern. This section will help you do just that. 

How Often to Water Ferns Indoors?

If you’re the forgetful type when it comes to watering your indoor plants, you’ll have to change that when caring for a fern.

Fern species usually require consistently moist soil. When the topsoil feels dry, then you want to replenish this indoor plant with water. 

Do not allow the soil to dry out more than the first inch or so. Each time that happens, the indoor fern becomes stressed.

Your fern may begin exhibiting symptoms such as foliage discoloration (leaf yellowing or browning), wilting, and slowed or stopped growth.

Allow me to take a moment to talk about what moist soil feels like, as your best gauge for soil dryness is to put a finger or two in the soil and feel around.

Moist soil is slightly to moderately damp, maybe even a little wet. However, the soil should never feel saturated with water.

If the soil is soggy, you need to scale back. Prolonged wet conditions can cause root rot, which could lead to the death of your indoor fern. 

Growing Ferns in Pots – What Type of Soil and How Often to Change the Pot?

The growth medium you select for a plant can help it thrive. Keeping that in mind, what kind of soil does an indoor fern need?

A standard potting soil is best here. Although indoor ferns generally need moisture in their pot around the clock, the soil must still be well-draining.

I suggest adding a few soil amendments to encourage the state of the soil to stay healthy over the long-term.

One part of gravel or sand will aerate the soil so it drains nicely. Resist the urge to add too much sand or gravel though. All this does is dry out the soil so you need to water your indoor fern more often. 

Peat moss improves the water retention rate of the soil, prolonging the amount of time you have to go between waterings. 

Even in those conditions, your fern won’t live in the same pot forever.

Once per year, take your fern out of its pot and inspect its root ball. Are the roots entangling in a giant circle? 

This is indicative of a rootbound plant. 

When an indoor plant becomes rootbound, its roots have no room to grow. They’ll usually encircle a pot and snare themselves in the process.

You should repot your fern in a bigger pot immediately if it’s rootbound.

If the root check reveals that the roots are growing long but aren’t rootbound, then you can wait up to two years before repotting. 

What Kind of Lighting Does an Indoor Fern Need?

I mentioned earlier that direct sunlight can severely damage and sometimes even kill a fern. What kind of lighting is more appropriate?

I’d recommend medium indirect light. This is not the same as bright, indirect light, which is the lighting condition that many indoor plants need.

Medium, indirect light passes through a curtain or a tree and is then reduced further so the light is not bright. 

A northerly-facing window should be your best option when growing indoor ferns. This window position never receives direct sunlight so you won’t have to worry about accidentally scalding your indoor fern.

What Is an Indoor Fern’s Temperature and Humidity Preferences?

You’ll recall from the first section that indoor ferns are very sensitive to temperature changes, so this is one area you’ll certainly want to take the proper time and care to get right.

By day, a fern likes temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees. At night, it’s okay for the temps to decrease to around 55 to 65 degrees.

To reiterate, when temps reach 45 degrees, your indoor fern will begin to exhibit signs of cold stress. 

In a worst-case scenario, the water stored within the leaves of your indoor fern can freeze. The cell membrane, which is not meant to handle ice, will rupture. The cells die and that part of your fern is done for.

Some species of fern are much more heat-tolerant than others. Since most ferns don’t like even indirect sunlight, it’s a good idea to limit heat exposure.

To create humid conditions for your indoor fern, you can grow the plant in a bathroom. The fern shouldn’t receive direct sunlight, and the warmth generated by your showers will induce enough humidity.

If you’re caring for an indoor fern at the office, then a humidifier will do the trick. 

When to Fertilize an Indoor Fern? 

When summertime arrives, it’s time to fertilize your indoor fern. 

How Often to Fertilize an Indoor Fern? 

You can safely apply liquid fertilizer to your indoor fern every 2-6 weeks during the warmer months but always make sure to dilute the fertilizer until you know how your fern will react.

If you wish your indoor fern would grow faster, you can fertilize it twice per month on a two-week basis. 

Use a few drops of liquid fertilizer at a time to avoid causing fertilizer burn. 

When the temperatures grow cooler, reduce how much you fertilize. You should not continue fertilizing your indoor fern into the winter. 

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