Types of Ferns to Grow Indoors

Ferns are a class of plants that include about 12,000 species in 150 different families. In their native habitats, most types of ferns grow on the moist, nutrient-rich forest floor where they receive little light. Some are epiphytes, nestled on the branches of tall trees.     

Just a dozen or so make their way into our homes. Their diverse forms offer plenty of variety to choose from, and make them fascinating to grow indoors in hanging baskets or perched on pedestals.

boston fern, types of indoor ferns

Boston Fern

In Victorian times, Boston fern could be found in many parlors and porches. Today, it's still a hands-down favorite in the home.

Caring for Boston ferns is easy. Just place your fern where it'll get indirect light (some direct morning sun is fine) and keep it moist. No pampering is required.


Cool types of ferns

Despite their tropical beginnings, most types of ferns grow best in average or slightly cooler room temperatures (70°F/21°C during the day and 60°F/16°C at night). Ferns don't like drafts, especially dry heat from heat vents, which can cause brown leaf tips and leaf loss.

maidenhair fern, types of ferns, indoor ferns

Maidenhair Fern

Intricately patterned leaflets make maidenhair fern (Adiantum raddianumone of the most stunning ferns anywhere. 

It's also one of the fussiest, preferring high humidity that's difficult to maintain in most homes. However, those dainty leaflets will thrive in a terrarium, surrounded in moist air.


crocodile fern

Crocodile Fern

Handsome textured fronds lend this Australian fern its common name. Crocodile fern also happens to be easy to please indoors -- as long as you give it the humidity it craves. Set a small humidifier near this rain forest native and you'll make it feel right at home.


button fern, types of ferns, caring for button fern

Button Fern

Trailing fronds densely covered with leathery, button-shaped leaflets make button fern a spectacular accent among other tropical plants. Put one on a multi-level plant stand with flowering plants -- or other ferns. 

Its care is easy -- just put this New Zealand native in a bright location and water regularly. It's adaptable to average home conditions.


It's not the heat, it's the humidity...

Forty percent humidity is considered "average" in most homes. Fortunately, that's a comfortable level for people and most plants.

However, many types of ferns grow best with 60-70% relative humidity. Short of turning a room into a misty rainforest, there are a few things you can do to keep ferns happy. 

Check out these easy ways to raise the humidity for indoor ferns.

bird nest fern, types of ferns

Bird's Nest Fern

Fronds that unfurl from the center of the plant give birds nest fern its common name. Lush and bold, the deeply veined fronds are spectacular, reaching 2 ft (60 cm) long or more. 

Less finicky about humidity and light, this is one of the easier-to-please indoor ferns.

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