Different Types of Ferns & Caring for Them

This is a comprehensive guide to the different types of ferns. Read on to learn the history, characteristics, and how to identify and care for this marvelous plant.

Ferns are beautiful and versatile plants that have been used for centuries in gardens, homes, and other landscapes. Whether you're looking to grow them indoors or outside, there are many options to choose from.

You've probably seen ferns growing in various places and may have wondered what kinds of ferns are there. Maybe you have even tried to grow them at home and failed. Do not worry. This article will explain everything you need to know about ferns, identifying them, and growing them successfully.

So, without further ado, let's explore the wonderful world of ferns!

Fern Plant Characteristics

Ferns are easily one of the oldest living plant species and have been around since prehistoric times. They belong to the Pteridophyta phylum, which includes both seedless vascular plants and those with seeds. Ferns are found worldwide, in both tropical and temperate climates.

There are over 10,500 different species of ferns, and they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. These flowerless plants are characterized by their fern fronds, which can be large and feathery or small and delicate. They also have unique reproductive systems that make them interesting to study. Ferns are used as medicine, food, and ornamental plants, and some species can even be grown in the home as houseplants.

Here are the various characteristics of this fascinating plant.

  • Ferns are found in tropical regions and are seedless vascular plants.
  • Their body type is a sporophyte, the dominant phase in their life cycle.
  • They have a stem, leaves, and roots like other plants. However, the way they reproduce is what sets them apart.
  • Ferns do not produce flowers or seeds. Instead, they reproduce by sending out spores.
  • These spores are found on the underside of their leaves in tiny, sac-like structures called sporangia.
  • These spores will germinate and grow into new ferns when the conditions are right.
  • The roots of a fern are typically short and thick. They are used to anchor the plant in the ground and absorb water and nutrients from the soil.
  • Most ferns have stemlike underground rhizomes used to spread the spores and foraging purposes.

These were some of the fundamental characteristics of fern; now, let's move on to the brief history.

Brief History of Fern Plants

As per fossil records, ferns first appeared on Earth during the Devonian period, which was about 360 million years ago. They were among some of the first land plants and played an essential role in developing Earth's ecosystem. Ferns were especially important in the Carboniferous period when they were the dominant plant life on the planet. They helped to create the coal deposits that we use today.

Ferns thrived in the Mesozoic era, which was the age of the dinosaurs. They were the preferred food of some dinosaur species and provided shelter for smaller animals. Since then, these fascinating plants have evolved into many different varieties and can now be found worldwide in tropical and temperate climates.

Today, ferns can be found worldwide and are an important part of many ecosystems. With their fascinating characteristics and rich history, ferns will continue to captivate plant lovers for years to come.

Different Types of Ferns

Now that you know about the fundamentals and history of ferns, it's time to dive into the popular types. There are several kinds of ferns, each with a unique appearance and growing requirements. They can broadly be divided into three categories: outdoor, indoor, and aquarium ferns.

Let's explore the categories and learn about the fern types in each.

Outdoor Ferns

Outdoor ferns are found in temperate climates, making excellent garden plants. You can find them in various shapes and colors and are extremely easy to grow. Some of the most popular outdoor types of ferns include:

Himalayan maidenhair fern

Scientific name: Adiantum venustum

This beautiful fern has broad, delicate triangle-shaped fronds and small, fan-shaped segments. It's a deciduous evergreen with a property to spread by creeping rhizomes. This fern type blooms from late winter and stays throughout spring, and its color changes from slight orange to green.

Himalayan maidenhair grows best in moist, well-drained soil and prefers partial shade. It is often used as a houseplant because it does not require much light, and it can also be grown on a patio or balcony. The plant demands moderate maintenance and is a favorite of gardeners for its hardiness and ease of care.

Key factors:

  • Prefers partial shade
  • Ease of care
  • Grows about 22 to 38 cm (8.6" to 14.9")
  • Showy foliage

Hart's-tongue fern

Scientific name: Asplenium scolopendrium

Hart's tongue fern is an evergreen fern native to the Northern Hemisphere. It is easily recognizable by its long, tongue-like leaves, plus it gets the name due to its resemblance to a deer's tongue. The leaves of this fern type are about 10 to 60 cm (3.9" to 23.6") long and 3 to 6 cm (1" to 2.3") broad.

They are typically dark green with brown stripes on the undersides, and it grows in clumps. The plant prefers partial shade and moist soil, but it can also adapt to different conditions. This hardy fern can provide you with a lush green ground cover all year-round.

Key factors:

  • Grows in clumps
  • Prefers partial shade
  • Can adapt to different conditions
  • Evergreen

Japanese painted fern

Scientific name: Athyrium niponicum

Native to Eastern Asia, this fern type has beautiful silvery-gray fronds with burgundy stems. It distinguishes itself with its unique looks among other ferns. It has purple veins and silver gray-green foliage that make it appear variegated, and it has triangular fronds.

Japanese painted ferns grow about 30 to 45 cm (11.8" to 17.7") tall and 1.2 m (47") wide. The plant is deciduous, thrives in the shade, and prefers moist, slightly acidic soil. Do not expose it to the sun for long periods as it can bleach the leaves. This fern type is an excellent addition to any garden or patio because it doesn't grow too big.

Key factors:

  • Grows in the shade
  • Variegated leaves with shades of silver and burgundy
  • Deciduous
  • Delicate silver and burgundy fronds.
  • Prefers moist, slightly acidic soil

Autumn fern

Scientific name: Dryopteris erythrosora

This is another trendy type of fern native to Eastern Asia, specifically China, Japan, and Korea. It has triangular bipinnate fronds, which are glossy green; however, the young fonds reflect a color mix of orange and red, hence the name. It grows in spring and matures through summer to get a deep green color.

They are also known as Japanese shield fern, and this hardy fern type can survive in different conditions. One fact that separates them from the other ferns is that they can grow in colder regions. You can grow Autumn fern in your backyard with slightly acidic, moist soil and partial to full shade. Plus, like most ferns, it needs a wind-protected area.

Key factors:

  • Grows in different conditions
  • Hardy and adaptable
  • Partial to full shade
  • Evergreen plant
  • Can grow about 30 to 70 cm (11.8" to 27.5")

Alpine wood fern

Scientific name: Dryopteris wallichiana

This award-winning fern is native to India and China. It has broad, frond-like leaves that spread out from the center of the plant. The leaves are yellowish through the spring with a brownish hue on the stems and midribs. It can tolerate winter frost, and the foliage turns green as winter comes.

Alpine wood ferns typically grow up to about 90 cm (35.4") but can occasionally touch a height of 180 cm (70.8"). They need moist, well-drained soil and partial to full shade to thrive. Once established, they are drought tolerant and can produce 50 to 60 fronds annually.

Key factors:

  • Grows well in shade and partial shade
  • Tolerates winter frost
  • Triangular, bi-pinnately compound leaves
  • Virtually pest and disease-free

Ostrich fern

Scientific name: Matteuccia struthiopteris

This is a deciduous type that is native to North America and Asia. It has arching bright green fronds that resemble the long, feathery plumes and hence the name. It grows in clumps, and its height ranges between 120 to 180 cm (47.2" to 70") tall and around 60 to 90 cm (23.6" to 35.4") wide.

It's best to plant them in spring or fall, and with moderate maintenance, you can have a beautiful ground cover all year round. However, this fern type cannot tolerate heat or humidity, so you'll need to maintain the moisture in the soil. Ostrich fern prefers partial to full shade and thrives in moist soil; they are rabbit and deer resistant.

Key factors:

  • Grows in clumps
  • Prefers partial to full shade
  • Best planted in spring or fall
  • It can be used for ground cover

Carrot fern

Scientific name: Onychium japonicum

Native to Asia, this fern is named after its leaf, which resembles a carrot. It has a bright green lace structure, multiple-pinnate fronds, and dark green hues. This fern grows about 45cm (18") and is an excellent outdoor fern often used as ground cover.

It's best to plant them in partial or complete shade and well-drained, moist soil. Also, remember to bring the plant in for winter. It requires protection from the wind and is deer resistant. The Carrot fern prefers full shade, and they are commonly found in deeply shaded forests. The deciduous plant thrives in clumps and matures through the summer and fall months.

Key factors:

  • Prefers full shade
  • It can be used as ground cover
  • Bright green, lace-like fronds

Royal fern

Scientific name: Osmunda regalis

Hailing from Europe and Africa, the royal fern is one of the largest and most spectacular types of fern. It's a deciduous plant that grows near streams and has large, upright, broadly divided fronds. The plant reaches a height of about 60 to 180 cm (23.6" to 70.8") and has a spread of 60 to 90 cm (23.6" to 35.4").

They appear pinking in the spring and are crowned with rusty-brown flower spikes, which give them the name "flowering fern." In the fall, the foliage reflects shades of red and brown. Royal fern requires low maintenance, and you can easily grow them in full to partial shade and moist soil. However, it's best to grow them in moist, acidic soil with plenty of organic matter.

Key factors:

  • Grows near streams and in moist, acidic soil
  • Rabbit and deer tolerant
  • Deciduous plant
  • Low maintenance and disease-free

Japanese tassel fern

Scientific name: Polystichum polyblepharum

Most commonly found in Japan and Korea, the Japanese tassel fern is an evergreen plant that features long, glossy, dark green fronds. With a shuttlecock-like spreading, its mature fronds hang like tassels which gradually straighten up like arches, hence the common name.

Japanese tassel ferns require little maintenance and thrive in partial to full shade and humus-rice, well-drained soil. This fern type reaches about 60 to 90 cm (23.6" to 35.4") high. They are widely used in flower arrangements and can make a great addition to your garden. Moreover, the fern is also resistant to deers and rabbits but is prone to gray mold.

Key factors:

  • Evergreen plant
  • Long, glossy, dark green fronds
  • Ornamental uses
  • Deer and rabbit resistant

Maidenhair fern

Scientific name: Adiantum

Maidenhair fern belongs to the Adiantum genus, which houses about 250 species of ferns. These tropical to subtropical ferns are native to North America and are characterized by their wiry black stems and delicate, fan-shaped leaf segments. The young fronds have a green and pink contrasty look, and they bloom into deep green, glossy foliage during spring.

Maidenhair ferns are best planted in partial to full shade and moist, well-drained soil. The fern comes in various sizes, from small to large, so it's essential to choose the right spot for them. The fern type can tolerate frost and is one of the most popular ferns used in landscaping and houseplants.

Key factors:

  • Frost tolerant
  • Partial to full shade
  • Fan-shaped leaf segments
  • Widely used in landscaping and as houseplants

Whisk fern

Scientific name: Psilotum nudum

The Whisk fern is native to Hawaii and is one of the two species in the Psilotum genus. It's a small, spore-bearing plant that lacks fronds and true leaves. Instead, it has bright green or yellowish stems with yellow spore cases on the upper stems.`

Whisk is easily recognizable due to its unique appearance and can be used as an ornamental plant. It's a primitive plant commonly known as Moa or skeleton fern and is famous in Japan. The Whisk fern prefers full sun to partial shade and humid climates. As far as the soil needs are concerned, it can grow in acidic to neutral, moist soil.

Key factors:

  • Small, spore-bearing plant
  • Lacks fronds and true leaves
  • Ornamental uses
  • Primitive plant

Licorice fern

Scientific name: Polypodium glycyrrhiza

The Licorice fern is a deciduous, rhizomatous plant widely distributed in North America. It's characterized by its glossy, green fronds that have a sweet licorice-like taste, and that's why native Americans chew it. Moreover, its stem is used in traditional medicine, and it's effective against colds, coughs, and sore throats.

The semi-evergreen fern grows by creeping rhizomes and remains lush and green from fall to spring. This fern grows about 15 to 30 cm (6" to 11.8") high, making it ideal for the front of a garden or in rock gardens. Licorice ferns prefer partial to full shade and well-drained soil. Still, they can also grow in several soil types, provided that adequate moisture is provided.

Key factors:

  • Deciduous, rhizomatous plant
  • Glossy, green fronds
  • Sweet licorice-like taste
  • Semi-evergreen

Eagle fern

Scientific name: Pteridium aquilinum

The Eagle fern is a large, deciduous fern characterized by its triangular fronds. It's native to the Northern Hemisphere and can be found at high elevations in the mountains from Europe to America. This fern is also known as the Bracken fern and thrives in well-drained, moist soil.

It prefers full sun to partial shade and can grow about 91 to 121 cm (35.8" to 47.6"). The fern is easy to grow and care for, making it a great addition to any garden. It's also an ornamental plant used in landscaping; they are highly adaptive.

Key factors:

  • Large, deciduous fern
  • Triangular fronds
  • Full sun to partial shade
  • Highly adaptive

Chinese ladder brake

Scientific name: Pteris vittata

This is a pantropical fern indigenous to East Asia and is introduced to North America, Australia, and Africa. It is a common feature in valleys and riverbanks in tropical Asia. The fern gets its name from its fronds arranged in a ladder-like fashion.

Chinese ladder brake is an evergreen plant with deep green foliage characterized by the pinnae on its fronds, which are long and spaced apart. They prefer warm climates and can grow about 91 to 121 cm (35.8" to 47.6") tall. Moreover, it's quite invasive with its growth but can be controlled easily.

Key factors:

  • Pantropical fern
  • Deep green foliage
  • Long, spaced-apart pinnae
  • Invades easily yet controllable

Giant fern

Scientific name: Angiopteris evecta

The Giant fern is one of the largest ferns in the world and is native to tropical regions. It's characterized by enormous fronds that can reach several feet in length. The plant is a popular ornamental plant due to its unique appearance and can be grown outdoors or indoors.

The Giant fern prefers warm climates and requires moist soils, and can grow up to about 609 cm (239") tall and 152 cm (59") wide. It has bright green foliage and dark purple-brown stems. This fern is also referred to as the king fern due to its massive growth. It easily qualifies in the tree fern category.

Key factors:

  • Glossy bright green fronds
  • Dark purple-brown stems
  • Extremely large ferns

Man fern

Scientific name: Dicksonia antarctica

The man fern is an evergreen tree fern characterized by its shaggy-looking trunk and fronds. It's native to Australia and is most commonly grown for its ornamental value. Most commonly found in Tasmania, it's also known as Tasmanian tree fern.

The man fern loves tropical climates with high humidity and moist, well-drained soil. It has rosette-like, dramatically divided fronds. The green leaves reflect a waxy texture that is most prominent during spring. This fern can grow up to about 609 to 914 cm (239" to 359") tall.

Key factors:

  • Shaggy trunk and fronds
  • Tropical climates
  • High humidity
  • Waxy textured leaves

Silver fern

Scientific name: Cyathea dealbata

The silver fern is among the most popular ferns and is native to New Zealand. It's an evergreen plant that's characterized by its silver-colored fronds. The fern is also the national emblem of New Zealand and is widely used in decorative landscaping.

This fern prefers moist, well-drained soil and can grow up to 914 cm (359") tall. It's a fast-growing plant that requires little maintenance and has a thick trunk, enabling them to survive in colder regions. The silver fern is also known as the ponga fern and is a common feature in subcanopy forests.

Key factors:

  • Silver-colored fronds
  • Native to New Zealand
  • Fast-growing plant
  • Thick trunk
  • Great for landscaping and gardening.

West Indian tree fern

Scientific name: Cyathea arborea

The West Indian tree fern is a large, evergreen plant native to the Caribbean islands and Central America. Their leaves are a glossy green color, and the plant has a distinct trunk with a closely spaced network of roots. When they are young, the leaves are rolled up, which unroll as they grow up.

With an average height of 914 (359"), it is one of the largest ferns worldwide. The tree fern prefers humid, tropical climates and can grow in various soils. It's a popular ornamental plant due to its size and unique appearance. The tree fern is also used in landscaping and gardening as it's known to be resistant to pests and diseases.

Key factors:

  • Glossy green leaves
  • Resistant to pests and diseases
  • Large, evergreen plant
  • Great for landscaping and gardening.

Indoor Ferns

Ferns make excellent houseplants as they help purify the air and require little maintenance. Many types of ferns can be grown indoors as houseplants. Let's explore some of the most popular indoor ferns:

Austral gem bird's nest fern

Scientific name: Asplenium dimorphum x difforme

The austral gem bird's nest fern is a hardy plant native to Australia. It grows slowly and has lacy fronds that have jagged edges. It has dark green foliage with waxy leaves, and the plant can grow up to about 30 to 45 cm (12" to 18") tall.

Seeds propagate this fern type, and it's best to plant them in a shady location as it needs partial light. However, it requires regular watering and well-drained soil. The austral gem bird's nest fern is a popular houseplant as it's easy to care for and does not require much attention. Moreover, they do not produce messy spores, which is ideal for indoor containers.

Key factors:

  • Lacy fronds
  • Dark green foliage
  • Slow-growing plant
  • Easy to care for
  • Great indoor houseplant.

Boston fern

Scientific name: Nephrolepis exaltata

The Boston fern is a popular houseplant often found in hanging baskets. This fern has lush, long fronds and can be grown indoors and outdoors. It has several common names such as Boston swordfern, tuber ladder fern, Boston blue bell fern, wild Boston fern, or fishbone fern. This popular fern is native to tropical regions and does best in humid climates.

It can grow up to about 40 to 90 cm (15.7" to 35.4") tall, and in some cases, it can touch 121 cm (47.6"). The evergreen fern prefers moist, well-drained soil and requires bright indirect sunlight to thrive. Moreover, they require regular watering and should be misted often to maintain humidity.

Key factors:

  • Lush, long fronds
  • It can be grown indoors and outdoors
  • Prefers humid climates
  • Requires regular watering and misting.

Cretan brake fern

Scientific name: Pteris cretica

Cretan brake fern is native to the Mediterranean region and grows abundantly in western Asia. It's a long-lived plant that can grow up to about 75 cm (30") tall and has a spread of 60 cm (23"). The fronds are long and lacy with a green-silver color, growing in dense, bushy clumps. Its swordlike leaves have an attractive color with a pale green middle texture and deep green edges.

The cretan brake fern prefers moist, well-drained soil and partial to full shade. It's a slow-growing plant that's relatively easy to care for. This fern is popularly used as an ornamental plant in gardens, and it's also known to be drought-tolerant.

Key factors:

  • Lush, long fronds
  • Slow-growing plant
  • Partial to full shade
  • Moderate drought tolerance

Delta maidenhair ferns

Scientific name: Adiantum raddianum

The delta maidenhair fern is a delicate plant native to South America. It has black, wiry stems with lacy fronds arranged in a circular pattern. The fern has dark green leaves and a glossy texture. In their natural habitat, coastal regions, they can grow about 43 to 48 cm (17" to19") tall and up to 56 cm (22") wide.

This plant prefers moist, well-drained soil and bright indirect light. Plus, the plant is hardy at 5 °C (41 °F), making it ideal for indoor growth. It's a fast-growing plant that requires regular watering, especially during the summer months. The delta maidenhair fern is a popular houseplant as it's easy to care for and adds a touch of elegance to any room.

Key factors:

  • Delicate plant with black, wiry stems
  • Fast-growing
  • Regular watering required
  • Elegant plant

Rabbit's foot fern

Scientific name: Davallia fejeensis

These are as adorable as the name sounds! The rabbit's foot fern is a slow-growing plant native to Fiji. It has long, furry rhizomes that resemble rabbit's feet, and these are covered with a multitude of green fronds. The leaflets are lacy and glossy, making them an attractive houseplant.

This plant requires moist, well-drained soil and bright indirect sunlight for optimal growth. They can grow indoors as long as you provide the required humidity. Rabbit's foot ferns are drought-tolerant and can go for long periods without water. However, they should be watered well during the growing season.

Key factors:

  • Slow-growing
  • Long, furry rhizomes
  • Requires high humidity
  • Drought-tolerant.

Asparagus fern

Scientific name: Asparagus aethiopicus

The asparagus fern is a fast-growing, evergreen plant native to South Africa. It has long, slender stems with needle-like leaves arranged in a fern-like fashion. The plant produces small, white flowers that turn into red berries. They can be invasive if left unchecked and grow up to about 60 cm (23.6") tall.

It's an adaptable plant that can be grown indoors or outdoors, though it does require regular watering. The asparagus fern prefers humid climates and should be misted often to maintain moisture levels. It's also a low-maintenance plant that requires minimal care and is ideal for novice gardeners.

Key factors:

  • Fast-growing and evergreen
  • Can be grown indoors or outdoors
  • Requires regular watering and misting
  • Low-maintenance plant

Horsetail fern

Scientific name: Equisetum

The horsetail fern is a drought-tolerant plant that's native to North America. Horsetail holds the title for the last remaining genus of the Equisetaceae family. It is one of the oldest ferns and can be dated back to the Paleozoic era. It doesn't look like a fern but resembles a miniature pine tree with its dense growth pattern. It has long, hollow stems with needle-like appendages.

Horsetail fern requires plenty of sunlight and well-drained soil for optimal growth. Though they are drought-tolerant, it's best to water them regularly in the summer months. Other than the appearance that separates them from the other ferns, they can survive where other types can't.

Key factors:

  • Drought-tolerant
  • Long, hollow stems
  • Needle-like appendages
  • Can survive in harsh conditions.

Cinnamon fern

Scientific name: Osmundastrum cinnamomeum

Hailing from East Asia and North America, the cinnamon fern is a large, deciduous plant. The cinnamon fern is considered one of the oldest types, and fossil records date its origin to 70 million years ago. It gets its name from the cinnamon-colored spore-bearing structures that it produces.

The plant prefers moist, shady conditions and can grow up to about 60 to 120 cm (23.6" to 63") tall. It has bright green fronds that are covered with brown scales. The fronds are large and spreading, with the fertile fronds being taller than the infertile ones. It is a popular ornamental plant and can be grown indoors and outdoors.

Key factors:

  • A large, deciduous plant
  • Cinnamon-colored spore-bearing structures
  • Prefers moist, shady conditions
  • Ornamental plant

Japanese holly fern

Scientific name: Cyrtomium falcatum

The Japanese holly fern is an ornamental, evergreen plant native to East Asia. In natural habitats, it grows in crevices and can be commonly found on stream banks, cliff faces, and rocky slopes. It has long, glossy leaves that are dark green. Their leaflets are arranged in a circular pattern and have serrated edges.

The plant prefers light to deep shade and thrives in humid conditions with moist, well-drained soil. Being pest and deer resistant makes it a perfect indoor fern option. However, it requires regular watering and should be misted often to maintain moisture levels.

Key factors:

  • Ornamental, evergreen plant
  • Long, glossy leaves
  • Prefers humid conditions
  • Pest and deer resistant

Staghorn fern

Scientific name: Platycerium

Staghorn fern is an unusual-looking plant that gets its name from the shape of the leaves. The fronds are shield-like in appearance and resemble stag's horns, and they are also called elkhorn ferns. They are native to South America, Africa, and Australia but can be found growing wild in tropical regions elsewhere.

The plant has a substantial root system that helps anchor itself on trees or rocks. They can grow about 60 to 90 cm (23.6" to 35.4") long and are considered among the easiest ferns to grow. The staghorn fern requires a cool, shady spot in the garden with well-drained soil. It is also essential to keep the roots moist at all times.

Key factors:

  • Unusual appearance
  • Large root system
  • Prefers cool, shady conditions

Aquarium Ferns

Aquarium ferns are a popular choice among home aquarium owners. This fern type is easy to care for and can thrive in the right conditions. These fern types can be grown half-submerged or fully submerged, depending on the species. They are undoubtedly a great addition to any aquarium as they help create a natural look and feel. Let's look at some popular types.

Java fern

Scientific name: Microsorum pteropus, Leptochilus pteropus

Also known as the Java fern, this popular plant is native to tropical and subtropical Asia. Java fern is named after its origin, the Indonesian island of Java, where it is commonly found. This hardy plant can grow in aquatic and terrestrial conditions.

Java fern has long, dark green leaves that can grow up to about 35 cm (13.7") in length. Their leaves have a leathery texture and are arranged in a rosette pattern. However, the plant is highly variable, and the size and shape of leaves can vary with geographical changes. The plant is popular among aquarium hobbyists and can be easily grown in home aquariums.

Key factors:

  • Hardy plant
  • Leathery leaves
  • Popular among aquarium hobbyists

Water clover fern

Scientific name: Marsilea crenata

The water clover fern, also known as the cloverleaf fern, is a popular choice for aquariums due to its beautiful and delicate appearance. It is a slow-growing plant native to coastal regions in Asia and Australia and can grow in deep water or on land. The simple ovate leaves grow in bundles and resemble clover leaves, hence the name.

Water clover ferns are low-maintenance plants that require minimal care and can thrive in a wide range of water conditions. Moreover, some Australian species are drought tolerant and can be grown outdoors in well-drained soils. Overall, the cloverleaf fern is a beautiful addition to any aquarium and makes an excellent choice for beginner gardeners.

Key factors:

  • Slow-growing and delicate
  • Can grow in deep water or on land
  • Low-maintenance and adaptable
  • Perfect choice for beginner gardeners.

How to Identify Ferns

There are over 10,500 species of ferns, and they come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. While most types share some common features, some have a unique look. Here are some key factors to help identify ferns.


Fern leaves, or fronds, are usually arranged in a spiral pattern on the stem. Fern leaves can be of different shapes and sizes but typically have a feathery appearance.


Fern stems are often thin and wiry, often branching out from the base of the plant. The stems may also have leaf bases or scales attached to them. Most types have underground stems that are called rhizomes.


Fern roots are usually thin and fibrous. Some types have larger, fleshy roots that help the plant store water.

Spore location

Ferns reproduce using spores rather than seeds. Mostly, these spores are located on the underside of the leaves and are often clustered together in groups.

Identifying ferns can be tricky as there are so many different types. However, with careful observation and a basic understanding of their characteristics, you can easily distinguish between ferns and other plant types.

How to Care For Fern Plants

If you intend to house one of the many types of ferns discussed above, you must learn how to take care of them. Whether indoor or outdoor, they require specific conditions to thrive. Ferns are not demanding, but you can make sure your fern grows healthily with the proper knowledge. Here are some tips to take care of your fern plant.

Temperature and lighting

Most ferns thrive in moderate temperatures and bright light conditions. It's suggested to place indoor plants near a window that receives plenty of sunlight. Outdoor ferns should be protected from the sun's harsh rays and placed in a shaded location.


Ferns love humid environments and will often wilt in dry conditions. Indoor plants can be misted regularly to increase the humidity, while outdoor plants should be planted in damp, moist soils.


Ferns prefer loose, well-draining soils that are high in organic matter. You can use a mix of compost or other organic materials in the soil to help improve drainage and promote healthy growth.

Watering and Fertilizer

Ferns need to be watered regularly but not too frequently. The soil should be allowed to dry out between watering to avoid root rot. Indoor plants can be fertilized once a month with diluted liquid fertilizer. In contrast, outdoor plants can be fertilized every two weeks.


Ferns do not require much pruning but can be trimmed occasionally to encourage new growth. Indoor plants can be pruned using sharp, clean scissors, while outdoor plants can be treated with a hedge trimmer.

Overall, ferns are easy to care for and make for great houseplants. They will thrive and bring beauty and elegance to your home with the proper care.

Interesting Facts About Ferns

Ferns are an incredible plant species with so many types and specialties. Here are some interesting facts about ferns that you may not have known.

  • Ferns have been around for over 360 million years, which means they existed even before the dinosaurs roamed the planet!
  • They are long-living plants, and some fern types can live up to 100 years.
  • Ferns were once used as food and medicine by many ancient cultures. They are still included in various traditional herbal remedies and cuisines
  • They need water to reproduce and can reproduce with sexual and asexual reproduction methods.
Posted by Pavneet Lobana

Pavneet is a home and lifestyle blogger with a passion for creating beautiful and functional spaces. A self-taught chef, she also loves to cook and share her recipes with others. Whether you're looking to create a cozy reading nook or upgrade your kitchen, she has advice that will help you get the most out of your space.