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Growing Ferns

Ferns are a diverse group of plants great for use inside or outside. Read below to learn more about caring for your ferns! Click here for more gardening guides from Ashcombe.

Nothing gives the feeling of green lushness indoors like a collection of well grown, healthy ferns.
Although there are many different ferns, and many of them are not even related, quite a few can be
grown indoors if you pay some attention to their specific needs. Here are a few basic recommendations:

LOCATION: Most ferns prefer bright diffused light. A draft-less north window is an ideal location for many ferns, as is a curtain-filtered window facing east. It’s a good idea to turn your fern plants occasionally.

SOIL: Many ferns have specific soil preferences, but almost all will grow well in a peat-based well-drained
soilless mix. Our Ashcombe potting soil is recommended for most of the popular fern varieties. Ferns
need a soil that remains moist, but also drains well so that the plant’s roots are not stagnant.

WATERING: If your house temperatures remain above 60°F, then ferns need to be kept moist. Depending
on the humidity level of your home you may have to water your plants every couple of days, or perhaps
only once a week. It’s best to watch the plants and check them daily when you first purchase them to
see how long it takes for them to dry very slightly. Some varieties like Maidenhair and Tree Ferns are not
forgiving of dry soil.

FEEDING: Since ferns do not flower, keeping them lush and green is the main concern. A high nitrogen
fertilizer will keep plants green and growing. If ferns are going through a rest period when they are not
actively growing, do not fertilize until new growth resumes. All-purpose house plant fertilizer is fine.

INDOOR TEMPERATURES: Normal room temperatures of 65-70°F are fine for most ferns. If temperatures
drop consistently below that in your home, your plants may go into a rest period. Be sure not to over water when plants are resting.

HUMIDITY: Humidity levels are very important for certain fern groups. To increase humidity in a dry
home, try growing your ferns on a pebble tray. Get a large plastic saucer, fill it 3/4-1” deep with fine gravel. Keep water in the saucer at all times but keep the level BELOW the surface of the stones. Set
your fern plant on the stones. The evaporating water will keep the air around the fern humid. A few
pieces of charcoal will keep the water from growing stagnant. Keep ferns away from heat vents and mist frequently to avoid leaf drop.

Staghorn Fern (Platycerium vassei)
Another epiphytic fern coming from Mozambique. Other species are from tropical regions of Australia, New Guinea, Africa, and the Philippines. Part of the family Polypodiaceae. In their natural habitat they grow on trees. This epiphytic habit of growth renders it adaptable to the home and other interior environments.

The sexual parts of the plant exist as two kinds of fronds. The sterile fronds are flat, disk-like, pale green in color, and age to tan and brown at the base of the forked fronds. These serve to support the plant and accumulate organic matter that helps feed it. The forked upright or pendulous fronds are the fertile ones that bare spores. These fronds resemble deer antlers – thus the name Staghorn Fern.

A neat and attractive way to display and grow this plant is by mounting on tree fern slabs. For mounting, first place a cushion of long fibered sphagnum moss on the slab. A tablespoon or two of bone meal will provide some nutrition. Tie the fern to the slab by inserting pieces of plastic covered wire through the lower portions of the sterile or basal fronds and continue through holes drilled in plaque or slab, tying at the back.

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