7 Types of Ferns to Raise as Houseplants

Ferns are popular houseplants because of their elegant green fronds. Which ones should you consider raising?

Ferns are popular houseplants because of their elegant green fronds. They also add color wherever they are placed. Ferns are ideal for gardening novices and many are safe to have around pets. 

In this article, I’ve compiled a list of 7 types of ferns that make perfect houseplants!

1. Boston Fern

This is the most common type of fern houseplant. It has long, sword-shaped fronds and is one of the easiest ferns to care for. 

Boston ferns need a cool, moist climate with indirect sunlight to thrive. To maintain humidity levels, place its container or planter on a tray filled with stones and water. You can also spray your fern with water once or twice a week.

Another maintenance tip is to keep the soil moist. Dry soil is one of the most common reasons Boston ferns die. Check the soil daily and water it if it feels dry. 

This houseplant is also non-toxic to cats and dogs and can be hung in a bright area or arranged in a pot or basket on a table or shelf.

boston ferns houseplant in the living room

2. Maidenhair Fern

Maidenhair ferns have delicate fan-shaped leaves that are commonly gathered on wiry black stalks. In addition to being one of the most popular fern houseplants, the maidenhair fern can be found in nature on rock walls and in between rock fissures, where they survive on the trickling water. 

This fern thrives on moisture and requires a lot of it to flourish, which may make it difficult to maintain as a houseplant. Its fragile leaves can burn if exposed to bright light or direct sunshine, but insufficient sunlight leads to poor development and fading fronds.

To ensure that your maidenhair fern thrives, provide it with water from a variety of sources. Yellow leaves can be a sign of overwatering, so be careful not to immerse its roots in water to prevent root rot.

a fern plant sitting on a windowsill

3. Staghorn Fern

Staghorn ferns get their name from their resemblance to deer or elk antlers. They grow slowly, but when fully grown, they are massive and gorgeous. 

They can have two types of fronds: tiny, flat shield fronds that protect the root ball while collecting water and nutrients, or antler-like fronds that can grow up to 3 feet long (and longer in the wild).

This fern thrives in consistent, filtered light. Be careful not to allow too much direct sunlight to hit its fronds because it could burn them. Water it once a week when temperatures are warmer and every 2 – 3 weeks during colder months. Be sure to allow the base to dry out in between watering. 

Staghorn ferns also prefer warm, humid environments. Keep your fern in an area that maintains a temperature between 50 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit to keep it healthy and growing. 

This plant is also non-toxic to dogs and cats, so you can enjoy having it as a houseplant without worrying about the health and well-being of your pets.

a white dresser against a colorful geometric background

4. Rabbit’s Foot Fern

The rabbit’s foot fern gets its name because its fluffy fronds resemble a rabbit’s foot, but once planted in ideal growing conditions, a rabbit’s foot fern can thrive as a houseplant for many years.

This fern’s roots look like a furry ball, but they should never be buried in soil. They cling to surfaces, drawing moisture and nutrients from the air and surroundings. Allow the fern’s roots to grow unfettered until they cascade out of the container, providing a distinct aesthetic accent to your space.

Rabbit foot ferns require bright, indirect light. Keep it in an area that maintains a temperature between 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and water it frequently enough to keep the soil’s surface moist. This can be achieved by using a spray bottle. 

Treat it with a liquid houseplant fertilizer that’s been diluted to half-strength every two weeks. 

rabbits foot fern in a simple clay pot

5. Button Fern

Button ferns are little, low-growing ferns with spherical leaflets on arching fronds. These plants thrive in bright, indirect sun or half shade. To maximize their growth, keep it in a non-drafty area with temperatures between 60 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Button ferns make great houseplants because they tolerate drier soil and are non-toxic to animals. 

button fern plant in a tin pot

6. Crocodile Fern

Crocodile ferns have colorful leaves and are a popular pick among fern enthusiasts. Its leaves have a leathery appearance akin to crocodile skin, hence the plant’s name. Crocodile ferns are versatile in that they can be houseplants or planted in outdoor gardens. 

As a houseplant, ensure you provide plenty of water and humidity. This makes it an excellent plant to put in bathrooms and kitchens. Also, plant your fern in a container with soil that drains well, and water it until the water drains out of the bottom of the container.

This plant requires indirect sunlight, but not too much; excessive sunlight can burn the fronds. 

a crocodile fern plant in a simple pot

7. Autumn Fern

Autumn ferns require little to no maintenance. Avoid placing them in dark places or in direct sunlight to avoid burning the fronds. 

Like other ferns, it also thrives in humidity and moist soil. But be careful not to overwater to the point that there’s standing water in the container. During the winter months, when heater use is prevalent, consider placing your fern near a humidifier to maintain humidity levels.

Autumn ferns prefer cooler temperatures but can withstand temperatures as high as 90 degrees. When temperatures rise, we recommend using a fan to help circulate the air around the fern. It will also keep pests and fungi at bay!

Carley Miller
Carley Miller is a horticultural expert at Bustling Nest. She previously owned a landscaping business for 25 years and worked at a local garden center for 10 years.
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