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Learning to Grow Ferns Indoors

Maybe you can relate to this. You buy an adorable houseplant (in my case, a Lemon Button fern*- the smallest of the Boston ferns- shown below!), only to take it home, give it what you think it needs (correct sun location, not too much water, fertilize with a slow release fertilizer) & it starts looking crummy about 6 weeks later. That's happened to me recently. I love houseplants- so much so that I got rid of all (great looking, albeit) faux plants several years ago. My degree is Interior Design- I love good looking faux plants, but I get dreamy-eyed over a real honest-to-goodness houseplant. So my house has many... 14 or 15 (how many indoor plants do you have? Share one of your favorites below!). I enjoy my share of healthy houseplants, however, this fern is causing me trouble! Its leaves are beginning to dry out although it is receiving enough water. I need tips from you if you have success with indoor ferns! And for those of you who maybe understand my situation, I have been doing research & am sharing below what I'm learning!

I have a Maidenhair fern that has been hanging out in one of our bathrooms where it receives a lot of great humidity. Below I will share why I think that location may be the problem for my Lemon Button fern.

Let's start with location. Growing ferns indoors requires filtered sun to full shade. Ferns also love humidity, which makes bathrooms an ideal spot for them. I think that's been the problem with mine honestly. I have had my fern in our living room in a filtered, semi-shade location, but it is near an air vent so it gets a lot of air blowing near it, which would explain why the leaves are drying out. So I have just moved it to our master bath where it can bask in the humidity- I will tell you if this solves the problem for me! If you do not have a bathroom that is suitable sun-wise or other wise for a fern, you can increase humidity by placing the pot on a pebble-lined tray. You water the pebbles in the tray & the water is slowly soaked up through the soil & roots, creating higher humidity. Be sure the pot/ soil does not sit in water- add water to the pebbles. You can also run a humidifier near the fern to increase humidity. This particular fern of mine, Lemon Button, also grows well in a terrarium, as it only grows to be about a foot tall by a foot wide.

As far as temperature goes, indoor temps are usually fine for ferns. They love temperatures that stay around 60 degrees & above.

Next up, watering. Growing ferns indoors requires a lot of water. Not to where the soil is soggy, but just kept moderately moist. If I ever have a little water left over from a water bottle, I pour it into my ferns before any other plant. A fern's soil should never get bone dry. If you feel your home's air is very dry, you may, in most cases, mist the leaves of your fern.

As far as soil, a high quality potting soil with peat moss mixed in will help create good drainage for your fern.

Fertilizing. I added a slow-release, granular fertilizer to my fern when I first brought it home about 6 weeks ago. Typically, a high performance slow-release fertilizer is great for indoor houseplants. But what I have read since fertilizing is that you need to feed ferns frequently in the Spring & Summer, & some reputable sites recommend a liquid fertilizer at half strength. You should not apply any fertilizer in Fall & Winter. What have you used when fertilizing indoor ferns, or specifically Lemon Button fern?


Growing ferns indoors is very rewarding- I love their delicate leaves & the beautiful texture they add to a space. If you are also having trouble with an indoor fern, be encouraged- usually, once ferns become acclimated & have the appropriate needs, they do very well indoors! If you need another resource besides this blog post, this one provided a lot of wonderful facts & information that helped me learn a lot more about caring for indoor ferns. You can always know that university horticulture websites can be trusted for their accuracy. When we need to learn more about a specific subject at the Nursery, we look to reputable university/ education websites first if looking online.

I love growing indoor plants & am determined to have success with my Lemon Button fern. I've learned a lot from researching on how to care for my little 'guy' & hopefully he will start to thrive again soon in his new location. With that said, please leave any tips of your own below- I'd love to hear from you!


*Note: This blog post is about the Lemon Button fern which is different than the Button fern. Button ferns can look similar from far away, but require very different care than a Lemon Button. We want you to have success with your plants & didn't want you to accidentally use this information to care for a Button fern!

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