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Delicate appearing lacy ferns are a great addition to any interior design. In spite of the fact that most ferns appear fragile they actually make tough, long lasting house plants that survive in unlit areas where other plants will not grow. The only demands a fern will have is humidity, warmth and lots of water. All ferns should be kept out of direct sunlight. They do best when grown at room temperature in filtered light.
Many types of ferns such as Boston fern, Venushairs and some maidenhairs work great in a hanging basket. Smaller ferns like button ferns and small table ferns can grow in a terrarium with literally no care at all. You can even attach the epiphytic stag horn to a piece of bark or cork and hang it on the wall where it will happily display its lush green foliage. The only care this fern takes is a simple immersing in water from time to time. With all ferns during the growing season you will need to water them generously with tepid water. You should also mist all the fronds daily when temperatures rise above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. During the hottest part of the summer the pots should be placed on saucers full of wet pebbles. Keep the pebbles wet during this time of the year so the fern will have the humidity it needs to thrive. About once a month you should feed your ferns with a nitrogen rich plant food diluted to about half of the recommended strength. During the colder months of winter allow your fern to rest. Do not feed it at all and allow the soil to dry out before you water. Most ferns have good, strong root systems but they should only be re-potted when the roots have filled the pot. Make your own soil mixture for ferns by mixing two parts sterilized potting soil, two parts peat moss or leaf mold, one part coarse sand or perlite and charcoal granules. If you ferns get crowded in their pots you will need to divide them or cut away some of the root growth and then repot them.
If you are unsure of how to identify certain ferns the maidenhairs are distinguished by having thin, wiry black stems and many small, firm leaflets with wedge shaped bases. The birds nest fern has fairly wide fronds, which rise in rosettes. This is a durable fern to grow indoors although it lacks the lacy charm that is most often identified with the fern. The rabbit’s foot fern has fur covered creeping rhizomes with finely cut, wiry fronds. The Boston ferns are a valuable group to indoor gardeners since they have rapidly growing fronds, which rise directly from the soil surface. Table ferns are known to grow very large and display irregular forking and cresting of the fronds.