Ferns have been with us for more than 300 million years, and in that time, the diversification of their form has been phenomenal. Ferns grow in many different habitats around the world. The ferns were at their height during the Carboniferous Period (The Age Of Ferns) as they were the dominant part of the vegetation at that time. During this era some fern-like groups actually evolved seeds (the seed ferns), making up perhaps half of the fern like foliage in Carboniferous forests and much later giving rise to the flowering plants. Most of the ferns of the Carboniferous became extinct but some later evolved into our modern ferns. There are thousands of species in the world today.
LIGHTING REQUIREMENTS: Ferns require lots of shade and ambient (rather than direct) sunlight. Place your plant near a north-facing window; east and west windows let in too much direct sunlight. You can put your fern next to a south-facing window if a north-facing window isn’t available. Keep the plant a bit away from the window, so that it receives more ambient light.
CARE INSTRUCTIONS WATER: Ferns love a humid atmosphere, but they also prefer moist soil as well. Make sure that your fern’s potting mix is always damp (but never soaking). This may mean you water a small amount on a daily basis, rather than heavy amounts irregularly.
FERTILIZER: Fertilize your ferns once a month. Visit your local gardening center and find a house plant fertilizer that specializes in species like ferns; ask an attendant for help, if necessary. Spray this fertilizer onto your ferns on a monthly basis to provide nutrients that the potting mix lacks. You should wait until at least six months after you’ve potted your fern to start fertilizing it, though.
TEMPERATURE: Keep the temperature constant. Most indoor species of ferns are tropical, although not all require tropical weather. Make sure that the temperature in your home (or at least the room in which the fern is kept) is near 70 °F (21 °C). The ferns can handle temperatures as low as 60, but they won’t thrive as well under low temperature conditions. When in doubt, turn the temperature up.
HUMIDITY: Keep the humidity high in proximity to your fern. High moisture levels in the air are perfect for humidity-loving ferns. There are two ways you can create higher humidity levels for your fern: double-pot your fern, or add a humidifier to your room. To double pot your fern, select a second pot slightly larger than the pot your ferns are planted in. Fill the pot with moss heavily soaked in water, and then place the second pot inside. Cover the top of the soil and the rim of the inner pot with the soaked moss, and wet it every few days to make sure it is still moist.
PROONING: Remove dead or diseased parts of the fern. House-ferns are able to contract some diseases, however they tend to be hardy and don’t succumb to most. If your plant appears diseased, cut off the damaged areas. If your fern begins to die as a result of neglect, do the same by removing the damaged/dead area with a pair of shears. If your whole plant appears diseased, it is best to remove it before it spreads to other house plants.