Houseplants 101: Taking Care of Ferns


Welcome back to our Houseplant 101 series, where we ask our plant experts to share their professional tips for keeping all our indoor greens thriving and lush—so you can fully realize your indoor jungle dreams. This time we’re going deep with Julie Czeck all about fern health (and her essential watering advice may surprise you!).

terrain: Hi Julie! Thanks for joining us again. What are some of the most popular (and easy-to-care-for) ferns you’d recommend people choose as houseplants?

Julie: These days, the Staghorn ferns and the Maidenhair ferns for sure. They make great houseplants!

terrain: What are some of the most important aspects of taking care of ferns?

Julie: The key to successfully growing ferns indoors is indirect, bright light in a northern or eastern facing window, tropical humidity, well draining soil, and no chlorine. You can use a regular potting mix for ferns. Typically, you want to water them only once the soil is just barely dry and make sure you’re misting the foliage when the air is dry. Most importantly, however, you’ll want to only use dechlorinated water for watering and misting.

terrain: Ferns have a reputation for being finicky and high maintenance. Why do you think people have such a hard time caring for ferns? What makes them tricky?

Julie: In my experience, I find that people have a hard time with sensitive houseplants because they’re watering directly from the tap. Tap water in most municipal areas is chlorinated, and many plants (like ferns, aroids, and many orchids) suffer from any chlorine in the water. The other issue I see a lot is dry air; it’s important to keep their environment humid with misting!

terrain: Would you say non-chlorinated water is the key to keeping ferns healthy and happy? Any suggestions on how to make that happen?

Julie: Yes! The key to success is purified water. You can dechlorinate your water by letting it sit out at room temperature overnight.

terrain: What are some telltale signs that your fern might be unhappy? Any tips for remedying these issues?

Julie: Ferns will start to lose leaves or turn yellow when they’re unhappy and that’s typically because they’re not getting enough humidity or they’re being watered with chlorinated water from the tap (yes, I’ll say it again!). If you see yellow leaves, try increasing their humidity by spraying them 1-2 times a day and try de-chlorinating their water. Also, be sure they’re near a window because they need bright indirect light or eastern light to thrive.

Interested in even more houseplant wisdom? Be sure to read our Repotting post and keep checking back as we continue the series through the season!

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