Keeping Indoor Ferns Happy




     I am a firm believer in the addition of some plants into the home, not only to give a pleasing effect but to improve the air quality, and what could be more easy on the eye than a fern or two.  The Victorians loved them for their conservatories and, because coal fire smoke and gas fumes are toxic to most ferns, the ever resourceful Victorians had special glass cases constructed so that they could enjoy their ferns in the house as well. 

     Nowadays with clean central heating we don't have the same problems as the Victorians but we do encounter another problem and that is hot dry air. Ferns require a moist atmosphere and damp compost to thrive well.  The demise of most ferns is down to the air and/or compost been too dry.  Place ferns on saucers or trays of damp pebbles to increase air humidity and keep a trigger sprayer of water handy to give the plants an occassional misting. Keep the compost moist without waterlogging.   Brown tips on the ends of the fronds is a sure sign that the air is too dry.

     Although ferns will not tolerate a position in direct strong sunlight don't put them in a dull corner, they want good  indirect light, east or north facing aspects are ideal. 

     One of the most delicate ferns to look for is Adiantum Fragrans (Maidenhair fern), perhaps the one that most people have difficulty with but, if you follow the tips for growing as described earlier I think you may have more success.

     Nephrolepis Exaltata (Boston fern) is another one worth growing if you want a large impressive specimen, the arching fronds making it an ideal candidate for a pot on a pedestal.  This one would also look fantastic in a hanging pot. 

     Remember, moist air and moist compost and you won't go far wrong.

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