Types of ferns will be the right addition to your garden if you’re a novice gardener. They come in various shapes and sizes, so you won’t struggle to grow one, regardless of the weather and soil conditions.

13 Types of Ferns for Any Indoor or Outdoor Garden Setup Plant America

Keep reading this article to know more about the different types of ferns that you can grow with the right conditions that will make it grow to its utmost potential.

List of Refreshing Ferns To Plant

1. Ostrich Fern

Advantage of Ostrich Fern Plant America

Benefits and uses
  • This edible fern is eaten raw or cooked
  • A great choice to grow next to water features along with the crested buckler fern or Dryopteris cristata
  • It can protect the soil from erosion when planted with the creeping wire fern or vine
Distinguishing characteristics
  • The arching fronds of the Matteuccia struthiopteris resemble the feathers of an ostrich, giving the plant its unique name
  • Mature outdoor ferns grow to produce up to seven fronds
  • When it’s time to harvest, you should leave at least three of them to allow the plant to survive
  • It thrives in fertile, humus-rich, and slightly acidic soil
  • Don’t let the soil dry out, and use mulch to keep the rhizomes moist
  • It’s not prone to many pests, but snails and slugs are attracted to the moist soil
  • Although it’s edible, you should wash it and discard the water before eating it to make it safer

The fiddlehead fern is an excellent choice for partial to full shade, where it can grow under your tall soft tree fern or Dicksonia antarctica and king or giant fern. Although this plant tolerates several soil conditions, but it will grow in a fertile type of soil.

It thrives in USDA zones 3 to 7, like the royal fern, so you should consider other types if the weather is warm. It gets its other nickname from the emerging heads that look like the curved head of a fiddle.

You can pair it with another uniquely growing fern, the kangaroo fern, known as the kangaroo paw fern, or Microsorum diversifolium. When growing the ostrich fern, you must remember to keep the soil moist; for that, you can add bark to keep the humidity range; however, be careful because this matter may attract snails to live in the pot.

2. Maidenhair Fern

Maidenhair Fern Features Plant America

Benefits and uses
  • A compact and easy-to-maintain houseplant that requires minimal care
  • Used in traditional medicine
Distinguishing characteristics
  • It has delicate fan-shaped leaves growing on black stems
  • It slowly grows to reach its mature size within three years, reaching a size between one and two feet tall
  • This plant thrives in filtered or indirect sunlight, as too much light can scorch the sensitive fronds
  • This fern loves water, so adding compost or peat moss to the soil will help retain moisture and make the plant healthier

Maidenhair ferns are popular choice for container and rock gardens, as they’re resilient, and they are considered as ones that have an easy grow even in unfavorable conditions. It can be seen growing on rock walls and between rock fissures with the Adiantum capillus-veneris or southern maidenhair fern or the Adiantum pedatum, where other plants will struggle.

Unlike other ferns that prefer cool weather, the Asplenium pedatum plant grows in USDA zones 10 and 11. Other varieties, like the delta maidenhair fern or Adiantum raddianum, are best grown in a terrarium to provide the plant with the necessary humidity levels. However, it is distinguished from others because it struggles in dry and cold weather conditions, unlike the Tasmanian cup fern.

3. Japanese Painted Fern

Japanese Painted Fern Uses Plant America

Benefits and uses
  • A good foreground choice for shade gardens
  • It’s usually used to soften hardscape elements like walkways, curbing, and boulders
Distinguishing characteristics
  • It’s differentiated from other ferns by its outstanding silvery fronds
  • The midrib is purple-green, while the fronds themselves are usually gray-green
  • It’s pretty hardy and easy to take care of, as long as you keep it away from direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves
  • Grow this plant in moist and fertile soil
  • Slugs and snails can be seen feeding on the fronds, but you can easily handpick them and treat your plant with neem oil
  • The foliage can lose its distinctive silver color if this plant is kept in direct sunlight
  • The leaves’ browning is usually the result of insufficient watering

The Japanese painted fern, or Athyrium niponicum, is one of the easiest ferns to grow, as it can withstand full shade and very acidic soil. As most plants, including some ferns, will struggle in these conditions.

However, when you are growing it, remember to amend the soil before planting this fern to keep it healthy, and ensure that it will be a well draining one. This is the type of plant that will require you to water it properly, or else you will see the result of it when the leaves start changing color.

This slow-growing plant grows a single foot per year, reaching a maximum height of three feet tall, the same size as the button fern. Popular varieties include the pictum fern, characterized by its red-silver foliage, and the burgundy lace fern, which has noticeable burgundy stems.

4. Boston Fern

Boston Fern Adviced Care Tips Plant America

Benefits and uses
  • Most people grow this plant to add a tropical vibe to their homes
  • It’s a perfect choice for poorly lit rooms and bathrooms
Distinguishing characteristics
  • Also known as the sword fern, this type is one of the most popular house ferns because it’s pretty easy to care for
  • The fronds turn blue-green only when the plant grows larger
  • Grow this fern in well-draining, moist soil, and fertilize it regularly during the growing season
  • Regular pruning encourages healthy growth
  • Boston fern is a bit sensitive to fluctuations in its environment
  • In most cases, bringing an outdoor plant inside during winter will often result in brown and fallen fronds
  • Whiteflies and mealybugs can represent a problem for this fern

The Nephrolepis exaltata enjoys extra warmth and humidity and won’t tolerate cold weather, strong drafts, or extremely dry weather. This is why this fern is suitable for tropical gardens, as it thrives in USDA 10 to 12, however, when the condition gets extreme, you have to be careful because the plant may attract pests.

Mistreating your fern will be essential if you live in a dry climate; otherwise, it will become weak and will die. The lemon button fern is a dwarf variety, while the Nephrolepis cordifolia fern and Kimberly queen fern can be good alternatives if the Boston type is too messy for you because they don’t shed as much.

5. Australian Tree Fern

Australian Tree Fern Issues Plant America

Benefits and uses
  • A great addition to any tropical landscape, usually grown as a specimen plant
  • It’s a good choice for coastal gardens, as it tolerates salty winds
Distinguishing characteristics
  • According to the name, this is more of a tree than a fern, reaching 50 feet tall in its native habitat
  • The lacy and leathery fronds grow to be 10 to 20 feet tall
  • This plant thrives in dappled sun and tolerates some shade
  • It can grow in different types of soil, including clay
  • Browning fronds are usually the result from rapid temperature or humidity changes
  • Spider mites can attack this plant

This fern isn’t the easiest to get, but it will add an exotic tropical vibe to your landscape, in the wild, it may get very tall, but it is more likely to reach a height of 25 feet on your land. Moreover, it achieves its best growth in rich loamy soil.

Growing as a houseplant is challenging due to its massive size and particular growth requirements. Misting the fern regularly to maintain the desired humidity levels is crucial, but when the air is dry, the leaves will turn brown, and this is why you should keep the plant away from drafts and heating vents.

You can pair it with another unusually-looking fern, like the whisk fern. Even though there is a risk of having spider mite attack, but you can control them by spraying your plant with a powerful garden hose and then use neem oil to get rid of the bugs.

6. Lady Fern

Lady Fern Detailed Attributes Plant America

Benefits and uses
  • The fronds are edible with a taste that is a mix of artichoke, asparagus, and green beans
  • People use this fern plant with the western sword fern or Polystichum munitum in flower arrangements to add a pop of green
Distinguishing characteristics
  • The fronds are lacy and spiral, with a bright green color that changes to golden in the fall
  • The stalks can be purple, red, or green
  • This plant thrives in sandy soil and tolerates moisture more than other types
  • It grows in partial to full shade and needs protection from the hot midday sun, which will scorch the leaves
  • Although fertilizing this plant is crucial, too much fertilizing can cause browning of the tips
  • Despite its love for moisture and humidity, too much humidity can lead to the formation of powdery mildew

When the word fern pops up, you think of the lady fern. It’s usually grown to create a focal in poor or boggy soil along with interrupted fern or osmunda claytoniana, where other plants won’t grow. However, when the condition is great, it will change its color just like the royal fern or Osmunda regalis in autumn.

It’s an excellent choice for woodland and shade gardens, where it thrives near water features like ponds next to the cinnamon fern. Even when there’s too much moisture and the plant suffers, it can quickly recover to grow bright green fronds in the spring.

The Athyrium filix-femina is an excellent alternative to the water clover fern, which can quickly become invasive. However, you should be careful with the growth requirements, especially when you are adding minerals, the colors may change, and as a result, it’s best to stick to a slow-release fertilizer.

7. Staghorn Fern

Staghorn Fern proper Description Plant America

Benefits and uses
  • This unique fern is usually grown to enhance your wall decoration as a living wall art
  • A good choice for a vertical garden with other potted plants when you don’t have enough gardening space
Distinguishing characteristics
  • It belongs to a popular family of uniquely-shaped ferns with broad leaves
  • Growing from the base, this plant can be three feet tall, but it’s usually larger and taller in an outdoor garden
  • This fern thrives in shaded locations but can take more sun if you water it regularly
  • To water this plant, remove it from the mount, soak it in water for 10 to 20 minutes, allow it to dry, and then hang it again
  • This plant is considered somehow tricky to grow
  • It’s considered invasive in Florida and Hawaii.

The staghorn fern‘s unique shape makes it a prized addition to any internal space, despite being harder to grow than other ferns. It’s an epiphytic plant but not parasitic, and this is why it needs to grow attached to another object or plant for support.

There are two types, shield fronds that cover the root ball and pronged antler fronds that can be about three feet long in the wild. Platycerium bifurcatum plants are more tolerant of drought than other ferns and can be watered once every three weeks in colder climates.

What you can do is to start this plant in a traditional potting mixture and then mount it once it starts growing. Use compost or moss as a base for your mount, and make sure to soak it in water, then remove it and hang it from a basket. As you do so, it will add such a vibrant feature around your house.

8. Autumn Fern

Autumn Fern Maintenance Tips Plant America

Benefits and uses
  • It adds a pop of color to shade gardens, thanks to its brilliantly colored foliage
  • It doesn’t spread much, so it’s a good choice for compact spaces
Distinguishing characteristics
  • The fronds of this fern first appear in the spring
  • In the summer, the fronds turn bright green
  • It thrives in partial to full shade, and too much sun can kill it
  • Grow this plant in slightly acidic soil and ensure it’s rich in organic matter
  • It becomes more tolerant of drought as it matures, and you won’t have to water it in areas with regular rainfall
  • Potted plants can struggle in winter, so you might need to bring them inside or place the container in a sand-filled box for better insulation
  • Scales, aphids, and mealybugs can attack this plant, but they won’t kill it

The autumn fern is a plant that has several names, including Japanese shield fern, copper shield fern, and Japanese wood fern. It is also called Dryopteris erythrosora scientifically, and it grows to be between two and three feet tall.

The outstanding warm foliage enhances the color of your spring garden before it turns green, because in spring you will see it with shades of red, copper, and orange. It grows as a border in shade woodland gardens and container gardens, which is why it can also be a wonderful ground cover.

Despite being easy to grow as a ground cover, this plant is a slow grower. Brilliance fern is a popular cultivar with deeper coppery fronds. The alpine wood fern or Dryopteris wallichiana looks similar to this one, but the spring foliage is yellow-golden, like the fall color of the hay-scented fern or Dennstaedtia punctiloba.

9. Bird’s Nest Fern

Birds Nest Fern Complications Plant America

Benefits and uses
  • As a shade and moisture-loving plant, this fern will be a good choice for your bathroom
  • In your garden, the bird’s nest fern will soften hardscape elements, as it can be grown attached to the stems of large old trees
Distinguishing characteristics
  • The plant is named after the new-emerging leaves that appear from the center, like the nest of a bird
  • The fronds can be about five feet long in the wild
  • The fronds, especially the new ones, are sensitive and can be easily deformed or damaged when touched.
  • Growing in filtered sunlight will work for this plant, as too much sun will burn the delicate leaves
  • It thrives in loose, organically-rich soil and should be watered consistently
  • Too much food can deform the fronds or make them turn yellow or brown.
  • The yellowing fronds can also result from too much sunlight.

This epiphytic plant can be grown in a traditional pot or as an air plant. Several varieties from the Asplenium nidus include the Victoria, with tongue-shaped leaves, Osaka with narrow rippled leaves; and Crispy Wave, with sword-like ruffled leaves.

This plant also called the austral gem variety is quite popular, and when you grow it with the right requirements, indoors, it will be able to grow up to two feet tall. In order to do this, you must make sure that the soil is organic, and that the light it needs is filtered and not direct, or else it will burn the tips of the leaves.

10. Hart’s Tongue Fern

Harts Tongue Fern Setup Method Plant America

Benefits and uses
  • Low maintenance plant
  • It can be used as a border or edging plant
  • It’s deer and rabbit tolerant, so they will not barge in
Distinguishing characteristics
  • Unlike other ferns, the fronds aren’t divided, giving the plant its exotic, tropical-like appearance
  • The underside of mature fronds shows brown markings
  • Along with the licorice fern or Polypodium glycyrrhiza, this plant can tolerate brighter and drier conditions than most ferns
  • Growing this plant in limestone-based well-draining soil will work best
  • You need to water it regularly and add mulch to moisten the roots
  • Unlike ferns that tolerate boggy soil, this one will be prone to root rot if the soil doesn’t drain well
  • In low humidity, the fronds will turn brown and crispy
  • Overwatering the plant and allowing moisture to sit on the fronds can lead to fungal diseases

It’s an excellent groundcover for shade gardens, where it maintains its green foliage all year long, along with the Christmas fern or Polystichum acrostichoides. It’s also low-maintenance compared to other ferns, because you can add mulch to add moisture around it, and water it when it feels try.

Also known as Christ’s hair fern and burnt weed, this fern has an upright growth habit and straight fronds that give it a unique look. It is similar looking to the Equisetum arvense or horsetail fern and the Matteuccia struthiopteris or shuttlecock fern.

This plant is known as the Asplenium scolopendrium in botany, and it is an evergreen emerald-green fern with rosettes of broad leaves, like the leaves of crocodile fern or leatherleaf fern, which tend to be more leathery. It prefers to grow in slightly alkaline soil, reaching a height of two feet, which makes it a good ground cover.

11. Japanese Holly Fern

Japanese Holly Fern Guidance Plant America

Benefits and uses
  • Easy to grow
  • You can grow this fern as a container or border plant
Distinguishing characteristics
  • It grows as an evergreen plant in warmer climates, providing an all-year-round interest
  • May grow as tall as two feet tall
  • You can grow this plant in moist, fertile, well-draining soil
  • Protection from the harsh afternoon sun is crucial
  • It also works as a full-shade plant
  • This plant is prone to root rot and fungal diseases, especially if the soil doesn’t drain well
  • Yellow foliage and wilting can result from overwatering
  • Not giving your plant enough moisture can turn the fronds brown

This fern will grow in your garden’s darkest and shadiest spots, where other plants will struggle. Which is why it will be amazing if you pair it with an indoor plant with Phlebodium aureum or blue star fern. People usually grow it as a low-maintenance ground cover, especially since it maintains its green foliage in winter, unlike other fern varieties

It thrives in USDA zones 7 to 10, and in areas with mild winters, you can expect it to remain green. It’s a good choice for your coastal or rock garden, along with the marginal wood fern but won’t tolerate harsh winters. This is known as the Cyrtomium falcatum in botany, and it gets its name from the serrated holly-like leaves.

You must make sure that the plant is placed in a location where it will receive shaded light because the direct one could damage it in the long run. In addition to this, the soil has to be one that would drain well, or else it will have fungal diseases.

12. Brake Fern

Brake Fern Chronicle Plant America

Benefits and uses
  • People usually grow this plant in hanging baskets as the fronds cascade beautifully
  • It can be grown outside or inside the house if you provide good humidity levels
  • It’s a good choice for a bathroom planter, as it appreciates the extra humidity
Distinguishing characteristics
  • The Pteris cretica is a small fern with broad fronds and a pale center. The edges are slightly serrated
  • It grows to form compact clumps from wiry stalks
  • The plant can grow to a maximum height of 2.5 feet, but it’s usually kept as short as one foot tall
  • You need to grow this plant where it can receive some indirect yet bright sunlight
  • It can survive in various soil types, but a peat moss-based potting mix will work best
  • Dry air will cause the fronds to turn yellow or brown and then wilt
  • Too much sun will make the leaves pale

The brake fern is also known as the table fern, this plant isn’t picky about moisture and humidity levels like other indoor ferns. It’s a good choice for a novice gardener because it doesn’t die as easily when you leave the soil dry for a while.

Yet, it’s important not to deprive it of water for long periods, or the fronds will wilt. It differs from the bracken fern or Pteridium aquilinum, also known as cretan brake fern, which has broad and large fronds.

13. Rabbit’s Foot Fern

Rabbits Foot Fern Management Plant America

Benefits and uses
  • This is an excellent indoor plant for humid and warm climates, adding an effortless tropical vibe to any setup
  • It’s usually grown from hanging baskets or in a balcony or patio container where you can better monitor its growing conditions
  • In most cases, people pin the roots to the outside of a moss basket
Distinguishing characteristics
  • Mostly it grows when indoors
  • The plant grows to reach a height of about two feet tall
  • Daily misting and high humidity levels are essential for this plant
  • Grow ferns in a peat moss-based potting mix to be slightly acidic and water them regularly
  • The exposed rhizomes can die if you don’t mist them regularly
  • The fronds are sensitive to air pollutants and chemicals, including smoke and scented candles
  • Too much sunlight will scorch the leaves

The Davallia fejeensis fern has several interesting names like deer’s foot, squirrel’s foot, and hare’s foot. These names refer to the interesting scaly hair-covered rhizomes.

This is one of the epiphytic fern species, with compact and tight fronds and airy, feathery foliage, but not as delicate as the foliage of asparagus fern or Asparagus aethiopicus and carrot fern, also known as Onychium japonicum.

It usually maintains its small size, sometimes only six inches tall, but it can survive in your home for several years. Once you’ve established the best growing environment for this fern, it’s best to stick to it, as this variety is sensitive to changes.

Although it doesn’t like growing in boggy soil like the Japanese tassel fern, Polystichum polyblepharum, and the Chinese ladder brake, Pteris vittata, drainage isn’t a significant concern for this fern.

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