Ferns “Many Genera” give a better softening effect to an indoor environment that makes good houseplants. Many people are familiar with that old favorite, the Boston fern Nephrolepsis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’ ” a very easy indoor plant with rich green, arching fronds. In the variety ‘Fluffy Ruffles’ they are rather upright and have frilled edges.
Even more foolproof is its relative, the Dallas fern (N. e. Dallassi). Which grows less than a foot tall. There are many species of tropical and subtropical ferns. A lot of ferns are native to more temperate climates. These ferns would be well-fitting to cooler parts of the house but won’t survive in rooms that are too well heated.
Bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidul) type of spleenwort, has wide, shiny, wavy edge fronds. That looks more like leaves and they can grow two to three feet tall. Holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum) also has leaf-like fronds a bit like large holly leaves and is extremely adaptable as an indoor plant.
If you want something a bit unusual that’s very easy to grow to try rabbit’s foot fern (Davallia fejeensis) a beautiful feathery fern from the South Pacific. Its long rhizomes look like brown, furry paws and can be seen crawling out of the pot and hanging from its rim.
When supplying an office with plants once set of these on a woman’s desk, and the fern made her so nervous that she couldn’t sit next to it but most people find D. fejeensis charming. Another exotic that is not terribly hard to grow is the staghorn fern (Platycerium bifurcatum), whose gray-green fronds look like antlers like those of a moose than those of a stag. It is an epiphyte, generally grown on a piece of wood or bark, with its roots wrapped in moistened sphagnum moss.
Few ferns can tolerate much if any, sun, and most grown indoors don’t like deep shade either. Give them bright indirect or filtered sun and an average room temperature. The one thing they are really fussy about is humidity. Generally, the more feathery its fronds, the more moisture in the air a fern needs. Ferns with leaf-like fronds are more droughts tolerant. Misting or using a humidity tray may make the difference for you.
Moreover, ferns are shallow-rooted and should be grown in shallow pots in a light, organic soil mix. Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy the phrase “like a squeezed-out sponge” is often used to describe the right degree of wetness. The surface can be permitted to dry out between watering in winter. However, water the base of a staghorn fern when it feels dry.
Indoor Ferns do not need a period of dormancy, though they may go dormant if the temperature is below 50 degrees.
Thus, feed your ferns in the summertime every 2-4 weeks with a liquid fertilizer. But don’t mix it full strength because you can damage the root system. Also, they can be fed lightly about once a month all year. You can move them outdoors in summer but not into direct sun. Ferns are spread by runners, which can be severed and replanted for propagation. To propagate the rabbit’s foot fern pin the tip of a “FOOT” to the surface of moist sand with a hairpin.