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How to Grow Healthy Ferns

Feb 14th 2011 at 12:39 PM

There are many varieties of fern, but no matter what type of fern you are trying to grow, there are several things you need to remember:

1. Ferns have a delicate root system, so the soil they’re planted in should be loose in order to avoid root damage.

2. Ferns need humidity, so avoid placing them in areas where the air is dry, and be sure to mist them OFTEN (daily is best). They also require good drainage and like humus-rich soil.

3. Most ferns have black spores on the backs of the leaves, which might be mistaken for bugs by a novice gardener. It's okay - they're supposed to be there. But if you think it has mites or other parasites, use an earth-friendly spray. For spider mites, wash the leaves carefully with water and gentle dish soap.

4. If the leaves begin to yellow, your fern may be getting too much sun or it may require more water or higher humidity. If your water has high chlorine levels, try spraying and watering with filtered water or distilled water instead of water straight from the tap.

5. If your fern is healthy and looks good, DON'T MOVE IT. It may not like the new spot you move it to.

Ferns will let you know pretty quickly if they're unhappy. If your fern is ailing and you're not sure what the problem is, consult your local nursery.

Staghorn Fern

Staghorn fern is a very attractive and unusual looking fern, but it grows very slowly. The fronds will grow to about 3 feet. Staghorns require good but filtered light and like to stay moist, but not wet – mist frequently. It also likes to be kept slightly cool.

These plants are usually hung on the wall to resemble a pair of moose antlers. It can be grown on a piece of bark or other organic material. Propagate by offshoots.

Asparagus Fern

These are fast-growing, delicate feathery ferns which make stunning hanging or table top plants. They like a warmer temperature and plenty of light but avoid full sun. If the leaves begin to yellow, the plant is not getting enough sun. If it drops its leaves, it may be too warm or too dry.

Keep the soil moist but not wet and mist frequently. Good drainage is essential. Give it a thorough dunking in water every so often. Trim back the stems to encourage bushy new growth.

Spider mites are a common insect pest. Propagate by root division. Asparagus ferns are poisonous so keep them well away from small children and pets.

Boston Fern

Boston ferns like lots of indirect light, and fresh air with a good level of humidity. Keep the soil moist at all times but be careful when watering that you don’t water the fronds, as this may cause browning of the leaves. These plants tend to be quite temperature-sensitive and prefer to be kept slightly cool, without getting a chill.

When fertilizing, use half the recommended strength and only fertilize 2-3 times a year. Be sure to place them or hang them in a location where they will not be brushed against.

Maidenhair Fern

These beautiful ferns need to be shaded from direct sun. They also require a high level of humidity to keep the leaf edges from browning. When watering keep them moist but not wet – never allow the soil to dry out.

Mature maidenhair ferns are susceptible to scale. Propagate by division.

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