How often should I feed my new house fern? I don’t have a green thumb and usually end up overwatering or under watering and never know how much or how little! Can you help me out?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Sue in Michigan: Ferns are a popular low-maintenance house plant. Outdoors they prefer filtered light but will burn in the full sun with the exception of the Kimberly Queen fern. Indoors they are happy to grow in a brightly lit room. A south-facing window is fine since the light they receive indoors is filtered and not as intense as if they were outdoors. As for watering, they do not like to soggy soil so make sure to let the soil dry out between waterings. Test the soil with your finger before adding any additional moisture. Remember that the top layer of soil may be dry but below there may still be sufficient moisture. When you do water, thoroughly moisten the soil, letting excess water drain off. Make sure the container allows for good drainage and the holes are not clogged. Your watering schedule is going to depend on the temperature and humidity of your home, but every seven to 10 days should be sufficient. Ferns like a humid environment so lightly misting the foliage every few days will increase the humidity. As a general rule ferns are not heavy feeders. They only require a low nitrogen fertilizer three to four times per year. Too much food and/or water is how most of us kill our ferns so less is better in both cases. During the winter months you can cut back on your watering, as well as fertilizing, since the light levels are so much lower.