Indoor ferns are absolute classic houseplants and one of the preferred choice when it comes to leaf up a gloomy corner. Truth is, most of them tolerate low light conditions and they perform best in a bright spot with plenty of indirect sunlight.
From the Maidenhair Fern to the Rabbit’s Foot one (they can have funny nicknames alright); there are a lot of varieties out there to try.
Adiantum, the Maidenhair Fern: The most delicate.
The adiantum is a pure classic and yet not outdated. This delicate plant is irresistible to the touch; however, you should avoid locations with heavy traffic as a constant rub will actually damage them as well as cold draught.
This is one of the varieties that will appreciate more light (even a bit of direct sunlight early in the morning or late in the day). It is therefore ideal near a south facing window (with shear curtains).
Adiantum in the centre with Epipremnum and peace lilies. Photo ©Windyridge Garden Centre
Asplenium, the Bird’s Nest Fern: The leathery foolproof one.
If you are a perfect beginner or really not green fingered, the asplenium is the best choice. It is certainly the most forgiving of them all thanks to its tough long leaves.
It is also more tolerant of low light conditions and lower temperatures; it will grow happily in a north facing room.
Asplenium ‘Leslie’. Photo ©Windyridge Garden Centre
Asparagus Fern: Light as a feather.
Grown successfully for generations, the Asparagus fern has not lost any of its charm, remaining a must-have in any indoor garden.
The dark green, feathery, foliage of the Asparagus Setaceus looks amazing with orchids. Or you may prefer the Densiflorus variety, also called Foxtail fern, in hanging baskets.
The Asparagus (bottom left) adds softness to the mix. Photo ©Windyridge Garden Centre
Nephrolepis: The Boston Fern
The Boston fern is not only one the best depolluting indoor plants, it is also safe for pets. Grow it in pots, on a pedestal as a feature, or a hanging basket. For a great ethnic look with a dash of sense of humour, plant it in a head pot and bring on the afro style.
Avoid high traffic areas, like the maidenhair fern; the Boston fern does not like very touchy hands.
Nephrolepis. Photo ©Windyridge Garden Centre
Phlebodium, The hare foot fern
It is one of the most tolerant of sunlight (well, it won’t stand a full day of sun as this will scorch the foliage). Easy to grow and probably and probably more forgiving when it comes to missed watering. Like the Asplenium, it is a good indoor fern to start with as it is not as demanding when it comes to misting.
Phlebodium Aureum. Photo ©Windyridge Garden Centre
Humata (or Davallia): Rabbit’s Foot Fern
It is ideal for hanging pots where it can show off its unique hairy aerial roots. The Humata is a lucky charm for beginners as it is fairly easy to grow. It benefits from a good misting and you may keep the compost partially dry between watering.
It tolerates lower temperatures (10°C minimum) and a wide range of light exposure as long as it is not direct sunlight.
Humata in a Kokodama. Photo ©Windyridge Garden Centre
General tips for lush ferns:
Light: Ideally keep your ferns in a bright room out of direct sunlight. Most of them, however, can be grown in shadier spots.
Soil: Ferns, especially indoors, like light compost, neutral to acidic preferably. It is best to use the houseplant compost (as it boasts good drainage properties).
Water: This is where, it can go wrong. The common belief is that ferns like a lot of water. That is where it is very important to make the distinction between wet and moist. You should keep your ferns moist and you should allow the compost to dry at the surface before watering.
Keeping the compost wet puts your plant at risk of root rot which is the main mortality cause of ferns in the house.
Air humidity: Ferns love a humid air, that is why they thrive in bathroom and kitchens where it gets steamy often. 60% of humidity in general is ideal. To achieve this you can either mist your plants (the frequency will depend on the temperature: the hotter it gets, the more misting will be needed) or grow your plants in pot covers, over a saucer filled with hydroleca and water.
Also avoid leaving your plants beside a heat source such as a radiator or in draughty areas, as these locations would be drier.
Terrarium or not?
Ferns can thrive for years in terrariums or bottles where the moisture is constantly recycled. Make sure for this that you do not overwater at first (before closing the bottle) and add charcoal in the compost as this will help prevent rot and other fungal problems.