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A Brief Guide to Decorating with Ferns

Written by Paige Vandiver

During the frosty winter, gracing your indoor garden with the delicate fronds of beautiful ferns will not only remind you of a tropical paradise, but will give your home a dash of ancient history. Having these primitive beauties as a part of you habitat don’t come without work, however. Ferns have a reputation of being very finicky and high maintenance, but they are well worth the attention. 

Ferns are some of the oldest plants to exist, so it’s no wonder they really know what they need to thrive and are a little picky about their environment. Ferns are a very diverse species, with looks ranging from dainty and graceful, such as the Boston fern, to strong and elegant, such as the Victoria fern.

The Fascinating History of Decorating with Ferns

The fern has been a favorite houseplant for centuries. During the Victorian era, decorating your home with ferns was in vogue. In fact, this home decor craze was so prevalent that the term “Fern-Fever” or “Pteridomania” was coined, as ferns appeared “on everything from christening presents to gravestones and memorials,” according to The Phytologist by John Van Voorst, published in 1844.

Why were ferns so popular in the Victorian era? Ferns thrived in the wetter, cooler parts of Britain, and began popping up in nurseries, greenhouses, and in plant collections across the western world. 

People kept personal fern collections in terrariums and as decorations on albums, artworks, and even pottery. Ladies decorated their homes with ferns, and gardeners kept ferns growing in their gardens. The era of “Fern-Fever” had Charles Kingsley muse, “Your daughters, perhaps, have been seized with the prevailing “Pteridomania” and wrangling over unpronounceable names of species (which seem different in every new fern book they buy) and yet you cannot deny that they find enjoyment in it, and are more active, more self-forgetful over it, than they would have been over novels and gossip, crochet and Berlin-wool.” 

Our love of ferns continues to this day, as we still love to keep a splash of ferns in our landscaping, and decorate our most beautiful flower arrangements with their delicate leaves.

There are two essential tips to keep in mind when caring for any indoor ferns: 

Hydration and humidity are so important to your growing fern!

Ferns like to stay moist but not wet, so you have to keep a close eye on them when they are acclimating to your home to know how often to water them. The more light and the higher the temperature, the more often they will need to be watered. If you only remember to water your plants after they become bone dry, then ferns may not be the best houseplant for you. 

Creating an environment humid enough to satisfy your ferns is often the most difficult task. The central air that is in most homes nowadays will dry out your ferns, so don’t place them over any air vents. 

Another way to quickly dry out your ferns is by placing them in clay or terracotta pots, which quickly soak up any water you are so graciously providing your plants. Opting instead to keep your ferns in plastic grow pots will help keep the soil moist.

There are several ways you can create humidity for your ancient beauties:

  • Use a spray bottle to mist the leaves of your ferns often.
  • Place the pot of your fern on a tray of water filled with pebbles. 
  • Use a humidifier for at least 6-8 hours per day. 
  • Place them in your bathroom (as long as they have indirect sunlight) so they can soak up the moisture in the air from the shower.

Use a variety of porous, nutrient-rich soil with a mix of peat moss which will allow the soil to be moist, but well-drained. Water them very frequently. The more light, the more you need to water them.

Let the Light Shine, But Not Directly on Your Fern

Your ferns will need plenty of indirect sunlight to ensure they are healthy and happy. Placing them in a dark corner will cause them to die fairly quickly. On the other hand, placing them directly in the sun will burn their lovely fronds.

There are so many winsome varieties of ferns to make your wintertime space delightful. Talk to the experts at Stockslagers Greenhouse and Garden center near Dayton  to decide what type of ferns are best for your and your home.

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