8 Ferns You Can Grow Indoors

8 Ferns You Can Grow Indoors

Suffering from garden withdrawal as winter draws near? Eden-up your interior spaces with a few lush, green plants. Many ferns make wonderful, low-maintenance houseplants, as long as you provide the right amounts of light and moisture. Here are eight favorites to get you started.


American Maidenhair Fern

Can be a bit of a diva if not kept constantly moist, but not soggy. Mist often and mulch to help soil retain moisture. Set a few feet from a southern or eastern-facing window; turn weekly to ensure even light. Yeah, it’s worth it. Zone: 3 – 8


Compact Sprenger Asparagus Fern

Great starter fern. Give it plenty of humidity (set on a pebble tray) and mist a few times a week. Compact, it forms a nice, tidy shape that looks great planted in a basket hung in a sunny, but not hot, window. Zone: 9-11


Austral Gem™ Bird’s Nest Fern

A newer, improved variety. Stately and handsome, this sterile variety does not develop messy spores making an ideal houseplant. Unlike some ferns, is highly adaptable to low humidity. Zone: 9 – 11


Japanese Painted Fern

Short, spreading habit looks great planted in a low trough set in a bright, but not hot and sunny window. Silvery-blue fronds adds a bit of light to indoor plantings. Like it’s red-hued cousin, a bit of a challenge, but a wow, too. Zone: 5 – 8


Regal Red Japanese Painted Fern

Woodland ferns can be a bit more of a challenge indoors, but their striking colors makes them worthy of the work. Provide ample humidity, keep soil evenly moist, and place in a bright but not hot, sunny window. Zone: 4 – 9


Lemon Button Fern

Great for beginners as long as can provide ample humidity. Smallest of the Boston ferns, it’s cute and compact, with tiny golden-green button-like leaflets on dark green, arching stems. Leaves have a light, lemony fragrance when crushed. Zone: 10-11


Holly Fern

Stiff, dark green shiny fronds of holly-like leaflets with coarsely fringed margins provides height to indoor plant groupings. Can handle more direct sunlight and colder, drier air than most ferns. Zone: 6 – 10


Virginia Blue Rabbit’s Foot Fern

Silvery blue fronds sprout golden-orange furry rhizomes that will circle in baskets slowly creating a lush mound. Great choice for a hanging basket. Prefers bright light, but not full sun. Zone: 8 – 9

Caring for Ferns Indoors

Most ferns require high levels of humidity to grow green and lush indoors. This can be a challenge, especially in areas where heat is provided by a furnace, which can dry out indoor air. Keep ferns away from radiators, bright, hot, sunny windows, and use a pebble tray (right) to add moisture. Even after all of that, your ferns still might look unhappy. If so, consider moving them to a regularly-used bathroom with a shower or into a terrarium or wardian case. Moved potted plants outside as soon as weather permits.

Other essentials:

Light:  Indirect is best such as that provided by a south or east facing window.

Water: Wait until potting mix just starts to dry out, then water deeply and thoroughly, making sure water drains well.

Temperature:  On the cool side (about 70 degrees) and away from drafts.

Food:  Generally, feed weekly with liquid fertilizer that’s diluted to one-half strength (known as “feeding weekly, weakly”).

T.L.C:   Occasionally misting the plant or taking it into a warm shower will help keep it clean.

Fascinated by ferns? Here are 5 easy ways to use them. String garden, anyone?


Placing potted ferns on top of pebbles in a tray filled with a few inches of water helps to create the humidity to thrive indoors.