Decorating and Caring for Ferns Indoors! Create a Peaceful Paradise.

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ferns indoors

Nephrolepis exaltata (Boston fern, Green Lady) adds a modern, cozy touch to an interior.

Photo Credit
Benoit Bruchez

Indoor Care Tips for Your Green Ferny Friends

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Imagine yourself in a forest glade surrounded by beautiful green ferns waving in the slight breeze. Exhale and feel the calm joy of being there. Now, let’s re-create this feeling of a green paradise indoors, with tips on creating a peaceful home using ferns—and, of course, caring for your green friends.

Not only do ferns evoke the serenity of the forest (there’s a reason forest bathing is a thing right now), but their unique structures, shapes, and shades make them extremely versatile ornaments to your favorite rooms.

Caring for Ferns Indoors

First, here are some words of wisdom about growing ferns in your home

  1.  Ferns grow well in low light—after all, they naturally grow in forests and other shady areas. This makes them ideal for lending a peaceful, arboreal vibe to your office (they do well under fluorescent lights) or any dim room in your home. In fact, they do poorly in direct sunlight, so choose another plant for the sill of that south-facing window.
  2. Ferns prefer warm temperatures and high humidity, so keep that in mind when choosing where to place them. Ferns do especially well in bathrooms, which tend to be the most humid rooms in the house.
  3. Keep the soil consistently moist (but not soggy) and the air moist as well. It’s a good idea to mist the leaves every week or so, and you may want to skip the terracotta pots because they wick moisture from the soil faster than other materials.
  4. Don’t place ferns near drafts or heating vents.
  5. True ferns are safe for cats and other pets, so no need to worry about Whiskers snacking on the fronds.
  6. For more about how to grow ferns and some of the most popular varieties, check out our story, Fantastic Ferns for Your Indoor Garden.
Woman spraying ferns. Keep a mister nearby! Photo credit: New Africa

Here are some GREAT reader tips that made their ferns grow like gangbusters!

  • I used to kill ferns all the time, but no longer! The secret? Buy bare-root/plugs/tube stock instead of the large-sized ferns, which grew up in a nursery’s perfect conditions and aren’t as adaptable. Starting ferns from starter plants may take more time, but grow up in your own home’s conditions and live longer.
  • Double-pot ferns by placing their container into a larger pot and filling the space in between with moist sphagnum moss. As the moisture in the moss evaporates, the humidity around the plant rises. Re-pot ferns in fresh soil every two years in the spring.
Go for a fern-filled interior with hanging baskets. Credit: Ground Picture.

Decorating With Ferns

Now, let’s talk about decorating with ferns! Here are some ideas for bringing the feel of a rich, green forest glade into your home:

  1. Use one fern as a focal point. Place a smaller-sized fern (such as a button fern or tricolor fern) in the center of the dining room table or coffee table to showcase like a living work of art. Be sure to prune the fern regularly to keep it just the right size.
  2. Bring the greenery to eye level. Hang ferns like Boston fern or Rabbit’s Foot fern in baskets and let the fonds drape and grow over the sides. This is a great way to green up your space when you don’t have a lot of surface areas for plants.
  3. Create a fern garden in the shower. Hang your favorite fern or perch one on a shelf at the far end of the tub or shower to give the illusion of being in a tropical rainforest. As mentioned above, ferns love humidity and moisture!
  4. Make an impact with one big fern. Place a larger fern like a silver brake fern or bird’s nest fern in a corner or next to your favorite comfy chair. For a magical feel, adorn it with tiny twinkly lights. (Here are some other large indoor plant options to help complete the outdoorsy feel.)
  5. Gather them in a group. Cluster ferns with other low-light plants like spider plant and philodendron, or calathea and aglaonema (Chinese evergreen) to add a splash of color. Choose matching pots for a sense of cohesion, a mix of upcycled containers for a more eclectic look, or decorate your own containers with sea glass, fabric, shells, or just about anything else that catches your fancy. Go for odd-numbered groups (think three or five) for the most pleasing appearance, and consider tucking a lantern or other battery-operated light source in among the fronds.
  6. Put up a living wall. Invest in a wall planter or simply use a nice-looking pocket shoe organizer, then fill the planting spaces with potting mix and a variety of smaller ferns. Not only will this verdant covering catch the eye of anyone who enters the room, but it’s one of the most effective ways to bring the feel of a forest glade into your home.
  7. Create a mini glade on your desk. Staring at your computer screen for hours at a time can be exhausting, so provide yourself with an instant restorative by clustering a trio of small ferns in one corner, then make a practice of gazing at it for a minute or two every hour or so.
  8. Pop a miniature forest on the shelf. Create a fern terrarium with ferns, soil, and rocks in a mason jar or other clear, lidded container and place it on a bookshelf or tuck it in a nook to provide unexpected pleasure when spotted.
Ferns enjoy more humid areas such as a bathroom. Credit: PixelShot.

It’s amazing how much adding a plant or group of plants can change the look and feel of your favorite rooms—and that’s especially true with ferns. 

But don’t take our word for it. Pick up a couple of ferns the next time you’re at the garden center and try one (or more!) of our decorating ideas above, then see for yourself how decorating with ferns can add both style and serenity to your living space.

About The Author

Su Reid-St. John

Su, a master gardener, spent many years editing and writing garden content for Bonnie Plants and Miracle-Gro. Read More from Su Reid-St. John

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