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I have always been a fan of ferns, but for some reason, I could never manage to keep them alive. But those days are over, and I have done a complete 180 on ferns! If you've been listening to this podcast for a while, you've probably heard me say how I don't like ferns and how they're just not my recommended houseplant. However, for the past year or so, I've been successfully caring for ferns, and I'm obsessed. I've learned so much, and I can't wait to share my top tips with you!


In this episode, we learn:

  • [00:10] Ferns 101
  • [04:03] How resilient are ferns?
  • [05:00] What are the brown spots you see on ferns?
  • [05:34] Are ferns a good choice for a home with limited natural light?
  • [06:32] How should you water your ferns?
  • [07:33] The right kind of pots to use
  • [09:13] How sphagnum moss helps keep ferns healthy
  • [09:51] How important is the humidity for ferns?
  • [11:40] What are the benefits of grouping plants together?
  • [12:09] How to fertilize your fern
  • [12:39] How to prune ferns
  • [14:04] Troubleshooting tips for ferns
  • [16:43] Proven Winners Leafjoy Fern species
  • [17:49] What ferns are not recommended for beginners?
  • [19:27] Ferns to bring home: Bird's nest fern
  • [20:35] Ferns to bring home: Rabbit's foot fern
  • [21:43] Ferns to bring home: Boston fern/Lemon button fern
  • [22:15] Ferns to bring home: Staghorn fern


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Ferns are Resilient

Ferns are so amazing. They have literally been around for millions of years, and they have adapted to grow in all kinds of environments and climates.

It's pretty remarkable when you think about it—these delicate-looking plants managed to persist through ice ages, drought, you name it. It is no surprise that they are known for being resilient, popping up from all sorts of challenging spots like rocky crevices and cracks in sidewalks!

Ferns are usually found in the jungle and they tend to like it humid, but there are some types that can tolerate drier conditions. It is all about choosing the right types for your home environment.


What are Spores?

Finding out how ferns reproduce is very interesting. Rather than bearing flowers and seeds, ferns produce spores—those that look like brown spots or scales on the fronds.

These single-celled reproductive units can travel through the air and develop into new fern plants under the right conditions. So if you see those “spore dots,” it's actually a sign your fern is growing and trying to spread its offspring!


What Ferns Need to Thrive

So what do ferns need to be happy houseplants?

Indirect Light – Ferns are actually pretty low-maintenance. They prefer bright, indirect light, so they're perfect for those spots in your home that get good, filtered sunlight. Just keep them out of direct sunlight to avoid burning the leaves.

Consistent Moisture – Ferns want their soil to stay evenly moist, not drying out completely between waterings. I keep them in high-traffic areas where I can see them every day. I also use self-watering pots and add a layer of sphagnum moss on top of the soil to help retain moisture.

Humidity – Many hardy fern varieties like bird's nest ferns don't need extremely high humidity. But the delicate ones like maidenhair and heart ferns will want moisture in the air as well as the soil. For these, use a cloche, humidifier, or group your plants together. Keep humidity levels at 60 to 80 percent.

Fertilizing – Ferns are a bit on the sensitive side, so go gentle. I like to use Espoma’s liquid indoor houseplant fertilizer. And remember, only fertilize when you see new growth.

Pruning – You're going to get some brown fronds from time to time, and that's okay! Don't be afraid to trim those off. Ferns are resilient, and new growth will come in quickly, especially with those Boston and lemon button ferns.


Troubleshooting Your Ferns

If you're seeing brown leaves, that's likely a humidity issue. Yellowing leaves, on the other hand, could be a sign of overwatering. Make sure you're not letting your fern sit in soggy soil and that your pot has proper drainage.

And if your fern is looking a little patchy or “balding,” that could mean it needs a bit more light.


Easy-Care Fern Varieties to Try

Which ferns should you bring home? Here are some varieties I highly recommend, especially for beginner plant parents!

Bird's Nest Ferns

My top pick for beginners, Bird's nest ferns have thick, slightly succulent fronds and aren't too fussy about humidity. The leaves kind of protect the soil, so you don't have to water quite as often.


Rabbit's Foot Ferns

These have the cutest fuzzy rhizomes that pop out of the soil like little bunny feet! The Living Lace® Davana is one stunning type to look for.


Boston or Lemon Button Ferns

These nice big bushy ferns are the ones I was talking about in Will & Grace. Make sure those are evenly watered. If they start to look a little crispy, don't be afraid to give them a trim.


Staghorn Ferns

These ferns have long fronds that look like antlers or swords. A lot of people mount them on boards for a cool version of a mounted deer head. But I've been growing mine in soil, and it's been doing great!


Avoid High-Maintenance Ferns (At First)

While I hope to build up to being a maidenhair and heart fern mom someday, I honestly can't recommend these ferns for beginners. They need extremely consistent soil moisture and humidity that's tough to maintain.

I'd suggest getting comfortable with easier fern varieties first. Then once you get the hang of their care needs, you can start experimenting with them! So don't be intimidated by ferns, plant friends!


Mentioned in our conversation:




Thank you to our episode sponsor:

Proven Winners

If you want to have success with houseplants, you’ve got to have two things: the knowledge to care for them successfully and healthy plants. Meet my new favorite houseplant grower: Proven Winner’s leafjoy™. With only the best plant genetics grown in a state-of-the-art, European greenhouse, you will not be disappointed in the variety and quality of your favorite plants from Proven Winner’s leafjoy™. This company has taken the guesswork out of plant shopping with plant tags that include scientific names and care guides, as well as color-coded collections for the different areas of your home that you want plants in!

Find plant joy in leafjoy™. Head to to find your local leafjoy™ dealer and let me know which plant you take home on socials!



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