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How Often To Water Ferns Indoors – Here Are The Best Practices

How Often To Water Ferns Indoors - Here Are The Best Practices

Ferns make a great addition to your indoor garden, considering how abundant they are. Are you wondering how often to water ferns indoors for them to stay lush and keep thriving? We got you.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about keeping your ferns hydrated looking great.

How Often to Water Ferns

For the most part, watering your fern shouldn’t be a difficult task. Ferns make it obvious when they need more water.

Most ferns are from the tropics. They get a lot of rainfall, and the air is humid. If you want your ferns to flourish, make sure they have access to an abundance of water. Make sure that their soil always stays damp, but avoid oversaturation. As a rule of thumb, when the surface of your fern’s soil is dry, you should water it, but this cannot be a strictly visual check. You have to touch the soil to determine if it’s dry.

There are some exceptions to this rule, though. Some fern species can withstand less water. These include:

  • Brake ferns (Pteris)
  • Rabbit’s foot ferns (Phlebodium aureum)
  • Holly ferns (Cyrtomium falcatum)

For these types of ferns, let the soil dry a little more before watering them again to avoid oversaturation.

Tips for Watering Your Ferns

The answer to how often to water ferns is straightforward, but there are still different things you need to know about how much water ferns need.

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Here are some additional tips for watering your ferns.

Do Not Water From Above

Avoid watering your fern from above, as water can splash onto the leaves. Instead, aim directly at the soil, right above the roots. This way, the water trickles down into the roots and your fern quickly absorbs it and puts it to use. Ferns can only absorb water using their roots, so water that isn’t in the soil ends up serving no purpose.

When you water your fern from above, the droplets land on their leaves and eventually evaporate. Until they do, though, they may be risking your fern’s health. The sun heats the water, which can burn the leaves, causing damage. The extra water makes the environment too wet, which may increase the likelihood that your fern may contract diseases such as root rot.

Use a Humidifier

Just like how they love water, ferns love humidity. Their native habitat usually offers at least 70 percent humidity, far from the average 10 percent found in most modern homes. The Boston fern, staghorn, and maidenhair fern are especially susceptible to low humidity. On the other hand, holly ferns need less humidity than ferns.

To add the extra humidity that a fern craves, use a cool-mist humidifier to increase the indoor humidity to between 30 and 50 percent, which is the lowest level that ferns will tolerate while still staying healthy. Although they may survive at lower humidity levels, they need this higher level to thrive. Lightly misting the leaves of your fern is another good idea as this imitates the conditions of their native habitat.

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Ferns may show signs that they’re craving more humidity with brown discoloration at the ends of their leaves. You may also notice other areas of the plant die completely.

Use Room Temperature Water

Always give your ferns (and other plants) room temperature water, even when misting their leaves. If you mist your fern’s leaves with cold water, you will notice spots and discoloration begin to occur on their leaves.

Water More Often in the Heat

If the room you keep your fern in gets hotter than 75 degrees, you will need to water your plant more often. Not only does the extra water keep your fern cool, but the increased temperature will also lead to losing more water in the soil to evaporation.

On the other hand, on the unlikely occasion that the room your fern is in gets below 60 degrees,  you wouldn’t need to water it as often, at least not until the room heats up again. Under these circumstances, only give your fern water when the surface of the soil is dry.

Know the Signs

It is important to make sure that you know what signs to look for to distinguish between overwatering and underwatering. If your fern starts showing symptoms of either condition, you can immediately adjust your routine accordingly before it’s too late.

Ferns that get excess water may appear to have yellowed wilted foliage, or, in more severe cases, fungal diseases, or root problems.

Underwatering your ferns will cause them to wilt. Boston ferns are prone to wilting when underwatered.

Both underwatering and overwatering cause wilting. Check the soil’s moisture level to determine the problem. If wilting occurs when the soil is damp, then your fern is being overwatered.

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Use a Second Pot

If you still can’t keep your ferns well hydrated, you may want to use a second pot so there’s more moisture available.

To do this, find a container to place under the plant pot. Plastic pots are your best option for the bottom container.

For this to be effective, you plant container must fit into the larger container comfortably.

Line the container with moist peat moss. Keep the sphagnum moss evenly moist because this will be your fern’s source of water.

You can use a clay pot to hold the fern as long as the bottom pot it sits in is plastic. Clay pots are porous, which will benefit your fern. The moisture from the moss can soak through the clay pot, reaching the fern’s soil.

Type of Water

For some ferns, the type of water you use is important. For example, the rabbit foot’s fern (Phlebodium aureum) is vulnerable to any salinity if it’s soil or water. For this reason, it’s better to water this type of fern with soft water.


Ferns are a beautiful, lush, indoor plant, and proper watering is an important component of their care to keep them looking that way. Most ferns should be watered relatively often, with some exceptions, but just like any other plant, it is important not to overwater your ferns to avoid root rot and other fungal diseases.

Using these tips will help you establish a proper watering routine for your fern and have it thriving throughout the year.