Ferns are a favorite for many gardeners and houseplant lovers due to their interesting foliage shape and lush, green growth pattern. There are many different types of ferns to be found in plant stores and garden centers, all of which can really brighten up a room – but which one do you choose?!
Keep reading for a list of 6 fern species that are decorative and not too difficult to grow in your own home.
Bird’s nest fern (Asplenium genus)
With their lack of feathery foliage bird’s nest ferns (pictured above) don’t look much like what we’d usually imagine while thinking of ferns, but this doesn’t make them any less interesting. These ferns are named after the way new fronds grow: they emerge from the center of the plant and then grow outwards, making for a plant that somewhat resembles a bird’s nest.
Bird’s nest ferns are available in many different varieties, all of which do well in indirect light. Unlike most other ferns they are relatively tolerant to dry soil (though you should never let it dry out too much!) and don’t require very high humidity levels. This makes them a great choice for any fern lover that is unable to provide the humid air most ferns require.
Button fern (Pellaea rotundifolia)
Another option perfect for fern lovers not able to provide a lot of humidity or the moist soil most other fern species need (or at least appreciate), button ferns actually prefer dryer conditions and don’t have to be kept on humidity trays or watered as frequently. In fact, too much moisture can quickly cause brown, dying fronds and eventually root rot and death.
This lower need for moisture makes button ferns one of the easiest fern types to grow. Provide well-draining soil and bright indirect light and allow the top of the soil to dry out a bit between waterings. Keep away from low-temperature areas and voila! That’s all you need to keep your button fern happy and healthy.
You can buy a button fern online here.
Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
Rightfully near the top of this list, the Boston fern is a true classic when it comes to houseplants. Though like all ferns it does have some specific requirements, it’s not too difficult to care for and can eventually grow to quite an impressive size.
To keep your Boston fern(s) happy and healthy try find a spot for it that is humid and gets plenty of indirect light, such as a bathroom or kitchen window. If there are no humid places in your home be sure to mist the plant regularly and/or place it on a humidity tray or near a humidifier. Keep the soil moist (but not wet!).
You can buy a Boston fern online here.
Blue starn fern (Phlebodium aureum)
Sometimes confused with the more popular Microsorum diversifolium (kangaroo paw fern), blue star ferns are appreciated for their decorative blueish-green paw shaped fronds. Contrary to most ferns they don’t naturally grow in soil but are actually epiphytes that, in the wild, grow on other trees.
At home, try to mimic the blue star fern’s natural habitat by providing a moist environment with medium indirect lighting and a suitable soil type. This fern does not appreciate being placed in normal potting soil: instead, go for a well-draining, loose epiphyte soil like orchid bark.
A full blue star fern caresheet can be found on Houseplant Central here.
Holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum)
Named after their resemblance to the real holly plant, holly ferns have decorative shiny fronds. They are appreciated for their relatively easy care – though moist soil and a humid environment are preferable, these ferns can handle dryer periods a little better than most of their cousins. They can also withstand a little more sun and lower temperatures, which makes them perfect for anyone looking for a fern to brighten up their home but weary of the other, more demanding types.
Cretan brake fern (Pteris cretica)
Cretan brake fern fronds are similar in looks to those of the blue star fern, with thin stalks and broad leaves, but there is one difference: the color. While blue star ferns are (unsurprisingly) blue, brake ferns found in garden stores often feature lovely variegation in the form of dark green coloration on the outside of the leaves and a creamy light green color on the inner parts.
Like most other ferns, Cretan brake ferns require high humidity levels and moist soil (though a little drying out will not immediately result in death). This means using a humidity tray and misting regularly are good ideas. As expected, bright, indirect lighting is ideal to keep this fern happy and low temperatures are not appreciated.
You can buy Pteris ensiformis, a similar brake fern, online here.
If you have any more questions about caring for these easy ferns or if you want to share your experiences with one of the ferns on this list, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!