13 types of fern plants that will love the indoors

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13 types of fern plants that will love the indoors

During their evolutionary journey, ferns have adapted to the relatively low-light, humid, and dense vegetative conditions found in many rainforests, swampy, and damp areas found throughout the world. These evolutionary traits make all types of ferns the perfect low-fuss, low-maintenance option for many a variety of indoor spaces. There are many ways to replicate the humid conditions ferns love right in your own home!

Couple these growing requirements with a fern’s beautiful, elegant, and delicate growth and you’ve got yourself the perfect houseplant. Plus, if you want to bring a bit of greenery to your home or office, wish to add a layer of class to your home, or simply want to liven the feel or vibe of a living space, ferns really are a fantastic option.

So to help you find a fern variety that matches the feel of your home and keeps your indoor feeling outdoors, here are the most popular ferns that are commonly kept as indoor plants.

types of ferns that make great indoor plants

Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum)

maidenhair fern

Origin: Africa, North America, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Central America, South America, Bangladesh, Burma, India, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, China, Japan

The Adiantum genus, commonly known as the Maidenhair Fern, is the parent to an exhaustive list of over 250 different fern species many of which make awesome plant companions for the home. Maidenhair Ferns are highly prized for their distinctive appearances, luscious growth, beautiful colorations, and their elegantly shaped leaves.

Maidenhairs particularly enjoy potting soils that are high in humus, are relatively well-draining, and hold an adequate amount of moisture content.

Commonly kept varieties and species as indoor plants:

  • Adiantum aethiopicum
  • Adiantum aleuticum
  • Adiantum bellum
  • Adiantum capillus-veneris
  • Adiantum caudatum
  • Adiantum cunninghamii
  • Adiantum diaphanum
  • Adiantum formosum
  • Adiantum hispidulum
  • Adiantum jordanii
  • Adiantum pedatum
  • Adiantum peruvianum
  • Adiantum philippense
  • Adiantum raddianum
  • Adiantum reniforme
  • Adiantum raddianum
  • Adiantum tenerum
  • Adiantum trapeziforme
  • Adiantum venustum

Staghorn Fern (Platycerium)

staghorn fern indoors

Origin: South America, Southeast Asia, Africa, Australia, and New Guinea

The genus Platycerium, commonly known as the Staghorn Fern, consists of a small list of just 18 species with all of them suitable to be kept as houseplants. If you happen to live in a tropical area and enjoy hiking the wet rainforests, you’ll likely have noticed Staghorn Ferns growing as epiphytes on large trees trunks. For this reason, Staghorn Ferns are popular indoor and outdoor plants that are often mounted to mounting boards, wire baskets, or fern fiber and then kept in low-light, damp conditions like those found in the home, attached to a tree in tropical areas, or kept within greenhouses.

Commonly kept varieties and species as indoor plants:

  • Platycerium alcicorne
  • Platycerium andinum
  • Platycerium angolense
  • Platycerium bifurcatum
  • Platycerium coronarium
  • Platycerium ellisii
  • Platycerium grande
  • Platycerium hillii
  • Platycerium holttumii
  • Platycerium madagascariense
  • Platycerium quadridichotomum
  • Platycerium ridleyi
  • Platycerium stemaria
  • Platycerium superbum
  • Platycerium veitchii
  • Platycerium wallichii
  • Platycerium wandae
  • Platycerium willinckii

Boston Fern or Sword Fern (Nephrolepis)

boston fern plant for indoors

Origin: South America, Mexico, Central America, Florida, the West Indies, Polynesia, and Africa.

The Nephrolepis genus, commonly known as Boston Fern or Sword Fern, is comprised of a list of 30 different species. These ferns are native to the many moist, shady swamps and floodplains throughout the world where they grow as epiphytes on trees, rocks and other woody vegetation. They were first introduced to the United States in the 1850s and slowly became a highly-priced houseplant.

The Boston Fern makes an excellent hanging basket specimen or can be allowed to trail along the floor, making it an excellent choice for corners of rooms where light levels are low. They are hardy and easy to grow and maintain, making it an excellent addition to any home or office environment. Plus, the lush green foliage of the Boston Fern making it a great way to add a little touch of nature in a number of locations throughout the home.

Commonly kept varieties and species as indoor plants:

  • Nephrolepis biserrata
  • Nephrolepis cordifolia
  • Nephrolepis exaltata
  • Nephrolepis falcata
  • Nephrolepis multiflora
  • Nephrolepis obliterata
  • Nephrolepis obliterata
  • Nephrolepis tuberosa

Asparagus Fern or Foxtail Fern (Asparagus)

asparagus fern

Origin: Cape Provinces and the Northern Provinces of South Africa

Asparagus fern, also commonly referred to as the Foxtail Fern, is a popular household plant that can be grown in hanging baskets or in decorative pots. It does really well indoors and is quite happy in low light conditions, making it a great choice for those dark, dim areas in the home that many other houseplants turn their noses up at.

The most attractive part of this plant is the foliage which resembles the shape of an asparagus spear. The leaves of the Asparagus Fern are a light green color with a velvety texture that grows in sparse, wide-spreading branches all growing from a single, tightly bunched root system.

Commonly kept varieties and species as indoor plants:

  • Asparagus aethiopicus
  • Asparagus asparagoides
  • Asparagus densiflorus
  • Asparagus setaceus

Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum)

cinnamon fern

Origin: Cape Provinces and the Northern Provinces of South Africa

Cinnamon fern is a graceful, broadleaf evergreen fern with attractive divided leaves and delicate cinnamon-brown spores. It is a shade-loving plant that grows best in moist soil and also does well in containers. Cinnamon ferns quite enjoy filtered sunlight and moist soil. They do not like it on the dry side, so be sure to potting soil evenly moist and refresh the potting media often.

Ostrich Fern or Fiddlehead Fern (Matteuccia)

Origin: Central and Northern Europe, Northern Asia, and North America

Ostrich Fern, also know as Fiddlehead Fern, is the only species in the genus MatteucciaIt. This very exotic-looking fern has strap-like leaves which are light green in color. The fronds make a dramatic statement in any home or office environment. They are grown for their unusual appearance—the fantastic “fiddleheads” at the top of the plant make an admirable conversation piece and add interest to any décor. When ostrich ferns are mature, the fronds grow in a crown shape.

Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium)

Origin: Europe and North America

Bird’s Nest Ferns or Bird’s nest spleenwort are probably one of the best types of ferns to grow as indoor houseplants. They are very low maintenance and look beautiful encircling a moss-filled pot. The fronds grow in rosettes and the ends of the leaves are outlined in black or dark red.

Bird’s Nest ferns need indirect sunlight, high humidity, and moist soil with good drainage. The plant will often grow new fronds at the base of older ones—If you prefer the look of whole plants with a few fronds on one long stem, trim any dead leaves earlier in the season.

Bracken Fern (Pteridium)

Origin: Occurring in most temperate and subtropical areas throughout much of the world.

Bracken ferns, commonly known as bracken, are resilient, long-lasting plants with big, highly divided leaves. They may be found all across the world except for Antarctica. Bracken ferns quite enjoy indoor conditions, often growing faster in homes than in outdoor settings.

They require moisture-filled soil with good drainage. And usually enjoy being placed in well-lit areas to encourage growth, but be sure to keep in mind direct sunlight may burn their sensitive fronds.

Hay Scented Fern (Dennstaedtia)

Origin: Eastern North America and eastern Asia

The Hay Scented fern is a deciduous fern that, when crushed, releases a scent of freshly cut hay. It spreads via rhizomes to create dense swaths of vegetation. Most notably, it is an excellent plant for homes that have to deal with poor air quality.

Hay Scented Fern thrives in shade and moist, organically rich soil. Although one established, it is an inherently flexible and hardy plant that can also survive in poor, rocky soil, and dry soil.

Commonly kept varieties and species as indoor plants:

  • Dennstaedtia punctilobula

Button Fern (Pellaea)

Origin: Southwestern USA, South America, Southern Africa, Eastern Australia, and New Zealand

Button Ferns are sturdy plants that need little care to grow. They prefer bright, indirect sunlight and moist soil. This hardy plant thrives in low light. For best results, place this fern on a plant stand among other tropical plants or in a hanging basket where the trailing of leathery, button-shaped leaflets cascades over the side.

Button Ferns require little maintenance. However, unlike most ferns, Button Ferns can endure fairly dry conditions and won’t tolerate wet soil in any respect.  If your Button Ferns have brown tips, this is a sign that the humidity levels are too low. Increase the humidity by placing a tray filled with small stones just beneath the plant to increase the humidity immediately around its foliage.

Commonly kept varieties and species as indoor plants:

  • Pellaea rotundifolia

Lemon Button Fern (Nephrolepis)

Origin: Australia and Asia

The Lemon Button Fern is a gorgeous plant that may be enjoyed by both novices and seasoned enthusiasts. It’s simple to maintain, and one of the more budget-friendly houseplants available.

Lemon Button Ferns may be grown in ordinary houseplant soil. They will do their best in a loose, peaty combination of soil if you want to get more specific. Your choice of planters and containers is virtually limitless. Any pot will do, a Lemon Button Fern will flourish as long as there is room for it to grow. It also releases a very faint lemony odor during the growing season.

Commonly kept varieties and species as indoor plants:

  • Nephrolepis biserrata
  • Nephrolepis cordifolia
  • Nephrolepis falcata
  • Nephrolepis obliterata

Sensitive Fern (Onoclea)

Origin: Eastern Asian and Eastern North America

The Sensitive Fern, also known as Bead Fern, is a tall deciduous perennial fern with a rough texture and medium to large growth. It flourishes in moist soil that is continuously wet, resulting in lush, apple-green frond leaves.

Onoclea sensibilis can be cultivated in a variety of conditions, with partial or full shade being the most effective. It grows well in moist soil and may thrive in complete sunshine if kept wet. It spreads vegetatively through underground rhizomes making it super easy to propagate.

Commonly kept varieties and species as indoor plants:

  • Onoclea sensibilis

Osmunda Fern or Royal Fern (Osmunda)

Origin: Europe, Africa, and Asia

The Royal fern, Osmunda regalis, is a magnificent, enormous fern that fails to disappoint. During the spring, large bright green fronds unfurl and seek out filtered sunlight. They turn golden brown in the fall before dying back.

This plant thrives in a variety of conditions but grows best in medium to wet soil in part shade. It prefers moist, rich, humusy, acidic soils, but it will grow in less favorable circumstances. It also likes cool summer weather where it can withstand near direct sunlight as long as it is kept hydrated.

Commonly kept varieties and species as indoor plants:

  • Osmunda regalis

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