Tips for caring for indoor Fern plants


If you’re thinking about adding an indoor fern to your home, you’ll be happy to know that they are a great choice. Ferns are not only beautiful, but they also help to improve the air quality in your home. They are a perfect addition to any room and can thrive in a variety of conditions.

One of the best things about ferns is that they are relatively easy to take care of. They don’t require as much sunlight as other plants, so you can place them in a location that doesn’t get direct sunlight. They also prefer a humid environment, so if you live in a dry climate, you might want to consider placing a saucer filled with water under the pot to help increase the humidity.

When it comes to watering your fern, it can be a little tricky. Ferns like to be kept moist, but they should never be overwatered. It’s important to water your fern consistently, but make sure not to let it sit in standing water. If you notice that the top of the soil feels dry to the touch, it’s time to water your fern.

Fertilizing your fern is also an important aspect of care. Ferns should be fertilized throughout the growing season, which is usually from spring to fall. You can use a general-purpose fertilizer or a fertilizer specifically designed for ferns. Just make sure to follow the instructions on the package and don’t overdo it.

Overall, having a fern indoors is a rewarding and beautiful investment. With a little understanding of their care needs, you can enjoy a healthy and thriving fern that will bring life to any room in your home.

When and How Often to Water Your Fern Best Practices

Watering your indoor fern is one of the most important practices to keep your plant thriving. However, knowing when and how often to water can sometimes be a challenge. Here are some best practices to help you effectively water your fern:

  • Understand the moisture needs of your fern: Different ferns have different moisture requirements. Some ferns prefer consistently moist soil while others prefer the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. It is important to learn about the specific needs of your fern.
  • Check the soil moisture: Before watering your fern, check the moisture level of the soil by inserting your finger about an inch into the soil. If it feels dry at this level, it’s time to water.
  • Water thoroughly: When watering your fern, make sure to water thoroughly. Water until it starts to drain out from the bottom of the pot. This helps ensure that the entire root ball gets enough moisture.
  • Be mindful of how often you water: Ferns generally prefer to be evenly moist but not waterlogged. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other issues, so it is important to find the right balance. As a general rule, watering your fern once a week is a good starting point, but adjustments may be needed depending on the specific needs of your fern and the conditions in your home.
  • Pay attention to the environment: Factors such as temperature, humidity, and exposure to sunlight can affect the moisture needs of your fern. Take note of these factors and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
  • Consider the pot and drainage: Having good drainage is important to prevent overwatering. Make sure your fern is planted in a pot with drainage holes and use a well-draining potting mix. If the pot is sitting in a saucer, make sure to empty any excess water after each watering session.
  • Watch out for signs of overwatering or underwatering: Overwatered ferns may have yellow or wilted leaves, while underwatered ferns may have dry and crispy leaves. If you notice any of these signs, adjust your watering practices accordingly.
  • Fertilize occasionally: Although ferns do not require frequent fertilizing, they can benefit from occasional feeding. Fertilize your fern once a month during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength.

By following these best practices and being attentive to the needs of your indoor fern, you can create an ideal environment for it to thrive and add a touch of greenery to your home.


  • Water your fern when the soil feels dry at about an inch depth.
  • Water thoroughly until it drains out from the bottom of the pot.
  • Adjust the frequency of watering based on the specific needs of your fern and environmental factors.
  • Use a pot with good drainage and a well-draining potting mix.
  • Watch out for signs of overwatering or underwatering and adjust your watering practices accordingly.
  • Fertilize your fern once a month with a balanced fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength.

How Often and How to Water Ferns

Watering your indoor ferns properly is key to keeping them healthy and thriving. Understanding their water needs and following some careful watering practices will ensure that your ferns stay green and vibrant for a long time.

One of the most important things to remember is that ferns don’t like to have wet feet. They prefer to be evenly moist, but not waterlogged. To achieve this, you’ll need to find the right balance when it comes to watering frequency and amount.

The general rule of thumb is to water your ferns when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Use a watering can with a narrow spout to water the plant at the base, allowing the water to soak into the soil and reach the roots. Avoid watering the fronds or leaves, as this can lead to fungal diseases.

The size of your fern and the environment it’s in can also affect its watering needs. Larger ferns in bigger pots will need more water than smaller ones in small pots. Ferns in humid environments will require less frequent watering compared to those in drier conditions.

A helpful strategy to avoid overwatering is to use a tray or saucer beneath your potted fern. Fill the tray with water, and as the soil dries out, the plant will absorb the water from the bottom. This bottom-up watering method is especially effective for ferns, as it allows the roots to take in the water they need while preventing waterlogging.

It’s important to note that although ferns love moisture, they can also suffer if their roots are constantly wet. Overwatering can cause root rot and lead to the death of the plant. So, it’s crucial to strike the right balance and avoid overwatering.

When it comes to indoor ferns, it’s generally best to underwater rather than overwater. Most ferns can tolerate being slightly underwatered, but they won’t recover if they are constantly overwatered. Make sure to monitor the soil moisture and adjust your watering frequency accordingly.

Another crucial aspect of fern care is maintaining the right humidity levels. Ferns thrive in humid environments, mimicking their natural habitat. If your home is dry, you can increase the humidity around your fern by misting it with water or placing a tray of water nearby. This will help create a more favorable environment for your fern to grow.

While ferns are pretty low-maintenance when it comes to fertilizing, it’s still important to give them the nutrients they need. A common practice is to fertilize your ferns once a month during the growing season, from spring to early autumn. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer, diluted to half the recommended strength, to avoid burning the delicate roots of the fern.

In conclusion, understanding how often and how to water your ferns is key to their well-being. Find the right balance between watering frequency and amount, and make sure not to overwater your ferns. Keep an eye on the soil moisture and adjust as necessary to prevent waterlogging. Also, don’t forget to provide the right humidity levels and occasional fertilizing to keep your indoor greenery happy and healthy.

Remember, ferns are also safe for pets and children, making them a perfect addition to any home. Their love for humidity and a temperature zone of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit is another reason to bring these beautiful plants indoors. So, go ahead and invest in some ferns to enjoy their lush and vibrant foliage.


  • Water ferns when the top inch of soil feels dry.
  • Use a watering can to water at the base, avoiding the fronds.
  • Consider the size of your fern and the environment it’s in when determining watering needs.
  • Use a tray or saucer beneath the pot for bottom-up watering.
  • Avoid overwatering and maintain the right humidity levels.
  • Fertilize your ferns once a month with a diluted liquid fertilizer.

Tips for Watering Your Ferns

When it comes to watering your ferns, there are a few key practices to ensure their health and longevity. Ferns are moisture-loving plants and thrive in humid environments, so it’s important to keep their soil consistently moist without overwatering them.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Be careful not to water your ferns too often or too much. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other issues, so it’s important to find the right balance. The frequency of watering will depend on factors such as the type of fern, the size of the pot and the humidity level in your home.

2. Before watering, always check if the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. If it does, then it’s time to water your fern. However, if the soil feels moist, you should wait a little longer before watering again.

3. When watering, make sure to thoroughly wet the entire root zone of the fern. Water should be allowed to soak into the soil until it comes out through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. This ensures that the plant’s roots receive adequate moisture.

4. Avoid using fluoridated water to water your ferns, as excessive fluoride can be toxic to them. If your tap water contains fluoride, it’s best to either use filtered water or let the tap water sit out overnight to let the fluoride evaporate before watering your ferns.

5. If you’re unsure about the moisture level of your fern’s soil, using a moisture meter can be helpful. This tool will help you gauge whether the soil is too dry or too wet and will guide you in adjusting your watering practices accordingly.

6. Ferns benefit from regular fertilization, especially during the growing season in spring. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength and apply it every one to two months. This will help provide essential nutrients for healthy growth.

7. Remember that different types of ferns have varying water needs, so it’s important to research and educate yourself about the specific care requirements of the fern species you have. For example, Boston Ferns like humid environments, while Bird’s Nest Ferns prefer drier conditions.

In conclusion, watering your ferns properly is crucial for their well-being. By following these tips and keeping a close eye on their water needs, you can ensure that your indoor ferns stay healthy and beautiful for a long time.

Note: If you’re unsure about any aspect of watering your ferns, always consult a plant care professional or visit a local botanical garden for advice.

Understanding Underwatered Versus Overwatered Ferns

One of the key factors to consider when taking care of ferns indoors is understanding the difference between underwatered and overwatered ferns. Finding that balance can be a challenge, but it is crucial to ensure the health and longevity of your indoor ferns.

When a fern is underwatered, it lacks the necessary moisture to thrive. You can determine if your fern is underwatered by gently pressing your finger into the soil. If it feels dry, it is a sign that your fern needs more water. Another indication is if the fronds start to turn brown or if the top layer of the soil appears cracked.

To rectify an underwatered fern, you can increase the frequency of watering. When watering, make sure to thoroughly soak the soil and let the water drain away. This will ensure that the roots have enough moisture to absorb. You may also consider misting the fern with water to provide additional humidity, as ferns love a humid environment.

In contrast, overwatered ferns have too much moisture, which can cause root rot and a host of other problems. You can identify overwatered ferns by the yellowing or browning of the fronds, as well as a musty smell coming from the soil. If the soil feels constantly wet or muddy, it is a sign that you are overwatering your fern.

To address overwatered ferns, reduce the frequency of watering and ensure proper drainage. Allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings, as this will help prevent root rot. Be sure to check the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot and remove any excess water that may have collected there.

It is important to note that ferns have different watering needs depending on the season and the environment. During the spring and summer, when they are actively growing, ferns may require more frequent watering. On the other hand, in the winter months, when they are dormant, they may need less water.

One effective way to determine if your ferns are thriving is to closely observe the fronds. Healthy ferns will have bright, green fronds that stand upright. If the fronds start to droop or wilt, it could be a sign of underwatering or overwatering.

In conclusion, understanding the signs and causes of underwatered and overwatered ferns is key to their successful care indoors. Ensure proper drainage, monitor the moisture level of the soil, and be mindful of the specific watering needs of your ferns. With the right amount of water and humidity, your ferns will flourish and bring a touch of greenery to your indoor space.

✿ Read More About Foliage Plants.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.