A low-maintenance plant, ferns grow well in most homes. Many ferns are tropical in origin and can only be grown indoors where they are protected from frost. One of the primary reasons the plants suffer is from improper care. Ferns have different light, water and fertiliser requirements when compared to other common houseplants. If the ferns are weak or dying, ensuring they receive what they need to remain healthy usually revives the plants.
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Move the fern away from direct sunlight, if applicable, as overly bright light burns the plant and causes wilting. Ferns prefer indirect light such as that from a north-facing window.
Provide humidity around the fern. Fill the drip tray with a 2- to 3-inch layer of pebbles. Add water to the tray until the water level sits jut beneath the top of the pebbles. Set the pot on top of the pebbles and replenish the water in the tray as necessary to maintain the water level. The evaporating moisture from the tray adds humidity to the air around the fern.
Water the ferns before the soil dries out completely, as these plants require a high-moisture environment. Feel the soil once or twice a week and water as soon as the top inch of soil begins to feel dry but before it dries completely. Water at the base of the fern until the excess moisture drains from the bottom. Too little water causes the fern to wilt or drop fronds.
Keep ferns in a 68 to 72 degree Fahrenheit room. Temperatures can drop as low as 62F at night. Most ferns cannot tolerate overly cold or hot temperatures.
Fertilise with a weak solution once a month, as overfeeding can kill the plants. Apply a general-purpose, water-soluble houseplant fertiliser at half the rate recommended on the package. Only fertilise growing ferns; the plants don't require fertilisation when they are dormant.
Tips and warnings
- Some ferns are deciduous and go dormant during the winter months. The plants revive naturally in spring when growth resumes.
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