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Fabulous Ferns

Whether trailing luxuriously from a shelf or hanging basket, or adding a touch of lush, tropical greenery to a room, ferns could well be described as the most romantic of houseplants. Despite there being many different shapes and types, from the delicate asparagus to the shiny green fronds of asplenium they are all fascinating and deserve space in the home.

Adiantum raddianum - Maidenhair fern

Dainty and wispy, this fern has a reputation for being tricky to care for. The key is to not overwater but maintain a constant humidity as they dislike dry air.

Standing the plant in a gravel dish and misting gently every other day will create the microclimate they need to thrive.

Temperature: Warm. 13-18°C.

Watering: Never let the plant stand in water and reduce watering during the winter.

Light: Indirect light, will tolerate some shade.

Tip: Keep away from direct heat sources and avoid sudden changes in temperature.

Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’ & Asparagus setaceus

For indestructability, the asparagus group of ferns are hard to beat. Loved by the Victorians they have had a revival of popularity, partly to do with their low maintenance requirements. Ideal for hanging baskets or for displaying at height which will make the most of their elegant, trailing foliage.

Temperature: Cool/Warm. 10-15°C.

Watering: Regularly during spring and summer, more sparingly in winter.

Light: Semi-shade to indirect light.

Asplenium nidus - Bird’s Nest Fern

An impressive fern with bright, glossy leaves that curl attractively at the edges.

This fern is a good plant for beginners as it is easy to care for and fast growing. To maintain its shiny appearance, wipe leaves occasionally with a damp cloth.

Temperature: Warm/hot. 15-24°C.

Watering: Keep compost moist, don’t allow it to dry out. It likes high humidity so mist foliage every 2 to 3 days with tepid water.

Light: Shady, away from direct sun.

Nephrolepis exaltata - Boston or Sword Fern

This is a popular fern which needs a little care and attention to keep it in tip top shape, as the fronds have a tendency to turn brown if the air is too dry.

The key, as with all ferns is humidity, stand it in a gravel dish and mist frequently.

Temperature: Warm. 13-18°C.

Watering: Keep compost moist, but not waterlogged. Use tepid water.

Light: Bright to semi-shade but out of direct sun.

Displaying Ferns for Sale

  • Group them together so they create their own microclimate. This will help to maintain humidity.

  • Stand them in gravel dishes or trays or display in hanging baskets.

  • Mist every 2 or 3 days checking at the same time that the compost is not over wet.

  • Display away from open doorways or direct heat sources.


Su Whale is a florist and freelance writer with over twenty-five years' experience in the floristry industry. She is the author and publisher of three best-selling books: Cut Flowers, 4th edition (2020) Cut Foliage, 2nd Edition, (2021) and Houseplants (2019), all bookshelf essentials for the professional florist.




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